Jackie Kashian has performed standup for over 35 years. Her albums have been #1 on Amazon and iTunes and have over 10 million listens on Spotify and Pandora. She has two podcasts: The Dork Forest (hosted since 2006), where she talks with people about what they love to do, think about, and collect; and The Jackie and Laurie Show, where she and Laurie Kilmartin talk about the thing they both love to do and think about: standup comedy. Jackie’s comedy specials include This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux (named one of Vulture’s best stand-up specials of the year) and I Am Not the Hero of This Story. She has appeared on Live from Here with Chris Thile, CONAN, MARON, 2 Dope Queens, and This American Life with Ira Glass.
We had a chance to interview this incredibly funny lady and talk to her about how she got her start, where she got her “funny” from, some of her experiences in the world of comedy, what she thinks about the current state of comedy, and where you can find her out in the wild.
Scott (GNN): Hello, Jackie. How are you?
Jackie Kashian (JK): I’m good.
GNN: Well, thanks for taking the time. Jess always gets me– she introduces me to people I would never know otherwise. As I’ve asked other content creators, there are more ways to be seen and heard than ever before. But on the flip side, there are more ways to be seen and heard than ever before, so the marketplace is so damned crowded. And if not for Jess asking if I wanted to interview you, I might never have discovered you. I listened to some of your stuff and you’re funny as hell!
JK: Oh, thank you very much.
GNN: But again, there are 10 billion people that people also find funny, so it’s hard to find people. So how do you get seen in this kind of day and age?
JK: Well, you know me. You don’t actually know me, (laughs) and most people don’t, because I think of myself as a very well-kept secret in show business. And I’ve been doing standup for over like a million years. I started in ’84. It’s so long ago. And then I’ve just been playing along, having a good time doing standup comedy.
Before the internet, right, you just go do clubs and see if anybody cared. And everyone would care, but there was no way to build sort of this…because there are people who now have like 1.6 million followers on Twitter. They’ve been doing standup for two years. And you’re just like…right? And they’re funny or they’re not funny or whatever it is, they have 1.6 million followers. They’re going to get work. It’s all going to work out for them.
The Dork Forest
I started a podcast in 2006 called The Dork Forest. All it is I interview people about what they love, their “dorkdom,” right? And it’s called The Dork Forest because I had a joke about how far into the dork forest would I have to go to find someone I wouldn’t hang out with because I’m a huge dork.
But the term, “dork forest,” was super fun, and I was like, “Well, let’s do a podcast called that.” And that’s when I got some fans in different towns because podcasting is worldwide, right? People had iPods, and they would download their podcasts and listen with their iPods. And now nobody has iPods anymore. But we still call them podcasts. Because it used to be like you do late night, you do Johnny Carson or Letterman or something like that. And then there were many, many places, and they’re even more now to do standup sets on television, Late Night. And I finally did a couple of Conan’s, and that was amazing and super cool. It’s all cumulative, right?
JK: Because there are so many different ways to…I’m on TikTok. Yes. Yes, TikTok (laughs).
What I did was I– we were in lockdown, and so I took a bunch of videos of my standup, TV quality, most of them, and cut them into 30-second one-minute clips and then just put them on TikTok. And I did it every day for like 35, 40 days until I ran out of clips (laughs) and the will to live. But in that month and a half, I ended up getting like 50,000 followers because people like a short standup joke. And, so, it drove me, marketing-wise, I don’t know how to do it, but all I know is that there are jobs. And I can do the one where I do standup comedy. And then I try to do the other– I can do probably three or four other jobs. But that means I’m leaving five jobs on the table. So, my law degree has lapsed. I don’t have a law degree (laughs).
GNN: So, that’s the present. Let’s hop in the way back machine and shoot back to your beginnings. Wisconsin, I believe you were born.
GNN: Youngest of six kids?
JK: Youngest of six kids in a little factory town outside of Milwaukee, sort of in-between Milwaukee and Chicago. And on the lake, on Lake Michigan, and could be bucolic. Wasn’t particularly, but it’s funny because when my husband came, I said, “I’m going to give you the Norman Rockwell tour.” Then when we went to his tiny town, which is Oroville, California, I was like, “You have to give me the Norman Rockwell tour.” And he said, “There is no Norman Rockwell tour.” And I said, “Every town has a Norman Rockwell tour.” I can give myself the meth lab tour of any town as well. You don’t need to do that for me. I would like to see where the Little League Park is, please. I would like to see where you rode your bike.
GNN: There has to be a little ice cream parlor…that kind of stuff, right?
JK: Is there a Dairy Queen? Let’s see it!
GNN: That’s so funny. This town that I live in in Florida has exactly both ends of the spectrum as you said. That’s very damn funny. I didn’t even think of it that way. You’re right. I could take someone on both of the tours you mentioned!
JK: Either way, you can go either way.
GNN: So, crazy question. When did you find out you were funny?
JK: Any day now. But the thing is…
GNN: I guess I’m assuming a lot there. You’re right!
JK: Well, here’s the thing. So, I’m the youngest of six, and my father is a salesman, right? He sells aluminum siding and windows and doors and all the things. And he is a big fan of the pitch, right? So, he taught us all that the sales pitch is very important. So, we were born learning how to pitch; talking was a big deal. It wasn’t particularly funny. It was okay, but it was more…my sense of humor, I got from my stepmother, who was actually very, very funny. And my dad…I get my timing for my dad.
And when I started doing standup comedy, I was 19 and I told my stepmother and she hilariously said, “You’re not the funny one. Russ is the funny one.” And I was like, “Russ doesn’t get to be everything.” Because Russ is also the golden child. He was also very smart and also very handsome. And I was like, “Enough. Enough with Russ. I’m going to do standup.”
Several times during her life, she passed away probably three years ago, no, 10 years ago. But she said her favorite standup comic was Norm McDonald. And I said, “I do Standup Comedy and I should be your favorite standup comic.” And she was like, “You’re my second favorite.”
GNN: That’s brutal.
JK: It’s a caricature of parenting. Anyway, so yeah, so I didn’t really know that I was funny. Like, I wasn’t the class clown or anything. I was super sarcastic as a child. But sarcasm is just a teenager being a teenager. You’re just like, all right. And I would occasionally get laughs with that sarcasm as a child, but in junior high, not high school.
But when I started doing standup, it was…because standup is so different than being funny in real life, right? Because I think everybody’s funny in real life. Standup just has to, for me, needs some sort of structure, even if it’s no structure, even if you’re just on stage, sort of like Judah Friedlander, like a lot of comics right now are doing this unscripted sort of crowd work, kind of work and they end up being funny at the moment. And it’s– they call it standup. So, it’s standup. If you call it standup, who am I to say it isn’t standup, right? Whether it’s storytelling or one-liners or unscripted riffing with the audience, if you call it standup, that’s fine. And if you have a guitar or a tall stick, whatever you’ve got going on while you talk to the audience, the whole stage knows it is standup.
If you think about it, standup comedy, isn’t just being funny, right? It’s also writing the jokes; it’s also performing the jokes. There are comics where you’re like, “Well, that joke is dumb.” But when you hear a specific person who wrote the joke tell it, you can’t help but laugh. You’re like, “I laughed against my very will to some extent.Jackie Kashian
Diving Into Stand-Up
GNN: Absolutely, there are all different types of performers. So, what was your first get-up in front of people and be the funny occasion?
JK: Open mic.
GNN: Was that like a talent show in school, or at a club?
JK: Oh, it’s an open mic in Madison, Wisconsin. There was a comedy club, and I just did an open mic. And here’s the thing people are always like, “I want to do standup. How do I do standup?” And I’m like, “Oh my God, attainable goal, my friends.” Every town, every city has an open mic. It might be a music-open mic. It might be a poetry open mic, but you could go do standup. You can go try to be funny and most larger cities have a club with an open mic night.
And this was a this was Madison, Wisconsin. I was in college. I saw standup and then like three weeks after I saw it, I had never seen standup before and three weeks after I saw it, I did an open mic. And it literally felt like falling into a well. I didn’t want to do anything but stand up.
GNN: Really? So how did it go the first time?
JK: Oh, blessedly, it was 1984, and we’ll never know, Scott, because it wasn’t recorded. But I must have gotten a laugh because I came back. And then probably I would say, three or four weeks into it, the club was so small and so new, and I was the only woman of the seven local comics that did an open mic. And the guy who owned the club didn’t want to pay anybody. So, he was like, “You could all go up every night.”
So, I did standup comedy for eight months every single night. And it was invaluable. I could have put a value on it and the guy who own the club did, it was $10, but it was $10, and I got a 1.8 that semester.
I mean, literally, it was all I wanted to do was stand up comedy and hang out with these six guys who I barely liked. I didn’t even like them, right? I mean, they were essentially– well, we could look back and we could call them my, “work friends.”
GNN: Right. Okay.
JK: Yeah. But the thing is, is they were…so the club ended up burning down. Standup comedy, especially in 1984 in the middle of Madison, Wisconsin is just the sketchiest pile of dingbats in the world, sometimes. Right? Oftentimes they’re a front for some other money laundering experience. And back in those days and still, to this day in certain markets, there are places that are attached to strip clubs, and they’re attached to casinos, and they’re attached to dirtbags. Right? And standup comedy, I don’t know if it will ever be considered a classy event.
They tried in the late ’90s to turn it into alt-comedy. Remember alt-comedy? It was better, but when it really…I mean, when it came right down to it, it meant that you were doing standup at a hat shop. Right? It just meant that you’re going to a coffee shop talking about an espresso machine.
Especially in Los Angeles, if you’ve ever tried…for a little while there if you ever tried to go out to dinner, there would be a pop-up standup comedy show. And I remember I had to host one when I first moved there. And they were like, “Hey, it’s the first night of this.” And I was like, “So these people who have come to this restaurant or bar don’t know that there’s going to be standup comedy.” And they’re like, “No.” And I said, “Well, allow me to go alert them and give them the opportunity to run.” So, I had to go table to table and go, “I know you just thought you were coming out for a beer and maybe a light meal, but in about 10 minutes, I’m going to be hosting a standup comedy show right on the dance floor, right there. I can promise that I’m going to be funny, but I didn’t book it, so I don’t know what’s about to happen. I don’t know what your emotions are about jokes. So…”
GNN: Hold on. I thought your dad taught you about the pitch. That’s not a good pitch, “I’m funny. Thank you so much.”
JK: Oh, it was an excellent pitch because they all stayed for my set.
GNN: All right. Yeah. You sold your set! There’s a guy I listen to on the radio that says “You gotta sell the sizzle.”
JK: Well, you sell the sizzle, not the steak. But the thing is, I’m the steak, right? So, what they’re seeing is they’re like, I’m riffing with them. So, they’re going to laugh as I riff with them. They’re like, “Oh, she probably is funny.” And then they last through me and then, on like two more comics, then they bolted because everybody was doing 10s. A standup comedy is uneven. I don’t know if you’ve seen a lot of standup comedy, especially if it’s showcase stuff like showcase nights where everybody is just doing 10 minutes. It varies from person to person quite a bit.
GNN: So, I asked one comedian I interviewed about what it takes to get up in front of people and be funny. You know, I like to think I’m funny and my friends will tell me how funny I am, and I’m like, “Of course.” But, there’s not one chance in 500 hells that I’m going to get up in front of people I don’t know, and they’re going to judge my funniness. I’d like to think my friends care enough about me even when I’m not funny, they won’t say it. And that’s what one comedian said. There’s a big difference between being funny in front of your friends and being funny in front of total strangers. Would you agree?
JK: Oh, very much so. If you think about it, standup comedy, isn’t just being funny, right? It’s also writing the jokes; it’s also performing the jokes. There are comics where you’re like, “Well, that joke is dumb.” But when you hear a specific person who wrote the joke tell it, you can’t help but laugh. You’re like, “I laughed against my very will to some extent.
I saw Jay Leno do standup in 1987, and I saw two shows and he did the same set of both shows and I watched it as a comic, and I watched it as a person, right? But there was that other level as a comic where I was like, “Is he really? He’s sticking the beats and everything. He’s doing the same jokes and it’s awesome. It was awesome to watch.” And the guy was a monster. He destroyed.
So, that’s the difference, I think because sometimes when you’re hanging out with friends and you’re riffing, you’re just– and one of you will say something super funny…my husband doesn’t do standup. He makes video games for a living. Sometimes the things that he says, I take them and use them in my act, because I’m like, “I could put that in a joke.” And then all of a sudden, I have another tag because you’re very funny. And, so, someone who is just funny in real life, you can take some of those lines, but you have to build something around it.
By ’92 or ’93, I was doing probably 20 weeks off-road where it was just weekends, and I had a day job where the first year I worked at Kinko’s, the worst job I’ve ever had in my life.Jackie Kashian
Kinko’s by Day, Comedy By Night
GNN: Right. That makes sense. So, speaking of jobs, so you said you were in college and you’re totally tearing up college with a 1.8 GPA. When did you decide…that’s another thing I’ve had comics say…you probably had a “real job” to pay the bills, but when did you decide you wanted comedy to be your, “real job”?
JK: I cannot stand uncertainty, so I kept my day job long after a dozen really good friends of mine quit their day jobs. But I’ve been pretty lucky with my day jobs, and they’ve been very flexible.
So, I started in ’84. I wanted to quit college after that 1.8 and just so stand up. And my sister, who it turns out, is the boss of me, was like, “No, no. You have to graduate.” And, so, I graduated in 1988. And then I spent two years wandering around the Earth. I went to Europe for six months backpacking and being drunk and having a shitty job over there. And then I came back, and I moved to Minneapolis in 1990 to do standup comedy. Well, I had done a little bit of road work in Wisconsin during my college years, but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills. I could have tried to grind it out, but when you go to it…when you move to a new city as a standup comic, nobody knows who you are unless you’re famous. So, you have to sort of reinvent the wheel a little bit, right? You have an advantage if you’ve been doing it already. And, so, if you get a chance, you can at least prove much faster that you’re funny.
By ’92 or ’93, I was doing probably 20 weeks off-road where it was just weekends, and I had a day job where the first year I worked at Kinko’s, the worst job I’ve ever had in my life. FedEx office, too. Then I got a job at this hippie T-shirt shop in Minneapolis. T-shirts, posters, whatever, still around, probably. They were such hippies that they wanted to support the art, man. And, so, I would be like, “Hey, I got a gig in Minot, North Dakota. It starts on Thursday or Wednesday.” They’re like, “Well, do you want to work three 10-hour days? And then maybe when you get back on Sunday, you could work, you know?” And I was like, “Yeah, I do.” So, they let me do that for the next until like ’96, ’97. ’96, ’97, I’m doing 40, 42 weeks a year. So, I’m working the day job and then I’m going on and I’m driving.
Then I moved to Los Angeles in ’97, where I get another day job. And the day job I get in Los Angeles is at a closed captioning company where I’m the admin. It’s a traffic position where I would just schedule and help everyone who had the real jobs.
JK: Right, and so I was completely and entirely replaceable, in my opinion. And my boss was such a nice woman. She was like, “Here’s what I’ll let you do. You can either go on two six-week tours a year or one 10-week tour? We will hire a temp, but you can keep your insurance.” And I was like, “You’re the best person in the whole wide world.” So that was it like from ’99 to 2003, right?
So, in 2003, I got my half-hour special. And I was like, “I have to commit to this.” That’s what I…this is the longest story ever, but that’s when I quit my day job. And I went to my boss in my closed captioning company and said, “I’m going to do standup full time. And then see if I can get some acting work here in Los Angeles and whatever. But I’m going to quit my job.” And she goes, “Are we not being flexible enough?” (Laughs) And I was like, “The only way you could be more flexible is to just keep paying me. And then I would show up whenever I want.” So, yeah, so 2003.
GNN: Yeah, so you talk about doing 40 or 42 weeks on the road. When I interviewed another comedian, I watched a documentary he was in called I Am Road Comic.
JK: Yeah, I heard about that one.
GNN: And, my God, I don’t know how you do that. Traveling is fun for work is fun for me for like a week or two a year and that’s about it!
JK: Yeah, and if you’re traveling first class (laughs)! When you’re driving in a 1990 Toyota Tercel through the Dakotas and Nebraska and Minnesota and Wisconsin and Iowa, and there’s black ice…
GNN: Not always the Norman Rockwell roots? You’re not always taking the Norman Rockwell roots?
JK: Exactly, it’s more of a meth lab moment for sure (laughs)! And then you’re working, you’re at these one-nighters in these weekend rooms, and oftentimes, everybody’s very nice. But rarely, the people are not nice. The owner of the club is a gross person. The staff is unhappy. You can always tell if a club is well-run or not well-run if the staff is happy.
GNN: No, 100%, yeah. Absolutely.
JK: Yeah, because if they’re unhappy, you’re just like, “Oh, man, what is she doing to them? What is he doing to them?” when you meet the owner.
I was in Peoria, Illinois, at the Jukebox Comedy Club. But it’s next to a place called Gentlemen’s Club. There were no gentlemen. There were just dudes. And then across the street from a stock car racing track. And so Saturday, they would have stock car races and you could hear it entirely through the show, like roar, and you’re like, “So anyway, got married…roar!”
I come out in between shows and one of the waitresses is talking to the bartender who has free tickets to the strip joint. And he’s trying to give them to…if he can get enough people to go over to the strip joint, 50% off the door. So instead of 10 bucks, it’s 5 bucks. Remember, it’s Peoria. This is not an expensive strip club. And he’s talking to one of the waitresses, and he says something so gross to this waitress that I said, “The hell’s going on over there?” Because why not, right? I mean, it’s always nice for…quite honestly, I would have killed for another woman to have had someone to make eye contact with on the road ever when somebody said something gross. But the best I could do would be some decent dude who was also in the room who was made uncomfortable as well. And I would be like, “Can I sit next to you, Jim?” And he’d be like, “Yes, can I sit next to you?” And then let’s go hang out with the club owner anyway because we all need the work. And so sometimes it was gross. Then you learn to deal with gross and weird people (laughs).
I’m going left, I’m going right. I go back to his side of the room. He’s got his phone back. It’s back in his face. That’s the most passive heckling in the world, except for that, it’s your phone and it lights up your face.Jackie Kashian
The Worst Gig
GNN: Ever done a 180? Walked in, saw the place or the people, and said, “Uh, no,” and left?
JK: No. But, as a matter of fact, I should have! I have friends who did one show and they’re like, “Oh, it isn’t going to work out.”
I did a gig in Albuquerque. I should have left immediately. They had this thing called the “comedy condo,” which is just an apartment that they rent instead of paying for a hotel room. They make one of the waitstaff clean that apartment and that waitstaff doesn’t care, so it’s gross. It’s not clean. I was sharing it with the feature. I’m in Albuquerque, 2008. Might have been earlier, who knows. 1,000 years ago. So, I come in. I have met the guy who was featuring me. It was a mutual friend. So, he’s a good guy. He’s got one room. I’ve got another room. I’m looking around. I’m like, “Is there an ethernet cable?” Because there’s no Wi-Fi at this point. We’re using ethernet cables. And he’s like, “I do not believe so, but there’s a telephone. We can do AOL.”
So, it must have been the early 2000s, like 2001 or 2002. And get this. The iron was chained to the wall (laughs)! That was the biggest red flag I think I’ve ever seen in my life. I was like, “he’s booking comics that would steal a $12 iron. We got to go.” It lasted the whole weekend. It was a nightmare. Anyway, it was the worst gig I ever did.
GNN: I have another question I always ask comedians because I’ve noticed it more during the shows I go to. Some comedians say they don’t really notice it, but I have. How do you deal with hecklers, bad behaving audience members, or do you not have an issue with that?
JK: When I was doing one-nighters, you have to do crowd control because there is no bouncer, there is no staff to walk over and go, “Hey, you have to shut up or I’m kicking you out”. So, the best clubs and the best rooms have staff that does that.
JK: The worst clubs do not. And some comics like it. Right? I mean, there’s probably 3% that do. I do not, because I’ve written some jokes. I was hoping to tell them. If you could pretend that we’re you’re at a theater event, which you are, that’d be great. And, so, the last heckler I think I had to deal with was a guy at the Hollywood Improv who was on his phone. And at first, I thought he was on his phone because he was doing the QR code to order.
GNN: Sure. Okay.
JK: It turns out he was playing a game while in the front row. I play a game in comedy clubs, I sit in the back row. I have the screen nice and low. And I’m also at work. But this guy had paid $17 to sit in the front row and play a video game and listen like he’s in his living room, right? And it’s a Zoom show.
So, I was like, “Hey, man! Put that away”. And because he wasn’t ordering. I finally figured it out. And then he was with these two women and one of the women stole his phone and I was like, “Okay, good”. And, so, I go back to the crowd and I’m working the room, right?
I’m going left, I’m going right. I go back to his side of the room. He’s got his phone back. It’s back in his face. That’s the most passive heckling in the world, except for that, it’s your phone and it lights up your face.
JK: I mean, you’ve got to sit in the back. So, I didn’t say anything. And then I go back and there he is again, right? And finally, I’m just like, “Dude, give me your phone!” He said, “no.” And I said, “I’ll give it back to you after class. Just give me your phone”. And he’s holding it off to the side (laughs) because he’s right against the stage.
JK: So, I walk up to him and he’s sitting here and I’m like, “Just give me your phone”, and he’s holding it away from me. So, I start pushing his beer with my finger towards his lap.
GNN: Nice. Well played.
JK: And I was like, “Oh, what’s happening with your beer? What’s happened with your beer? Is it going to spill? Is it going to spill?” And finally, he grabs his beer and I grab his phone and I finish my set and then I give his phone to the bartender. So, I hate hecklers.
GNN: I know, right? I mean, I’m a talker. I love to talk and hold court when I’m out with my friends, but when I’m paying to see a show, I don’t want to talk! I’m not holding court. I paid another person to hold court. I want to see a funny person and I’m going to shut up. I want to listen to this funny person so I can steal some of their jokes later.
JK: Exactly. And then afterward, you’ll be hilarious! You’ll go out to eat or you’ll do something and you’ll be like, “Remember this bit? This was hilarious. That was hilarious”. Yeah.
The new album comes out on the 16th, but a week from Monday, I’m doing an album release party that’s online, November 15th, 6 PM Pacific, live stream album release party, where a couple of people are going to do standup.Jackie Kashian
Moving Into Comedy Albums
GNN: Okay, let’s move on. You’ve done all of this work and Cake is Not My Downfall is your first album. Right?
JK: Cake is Not My Downfall was an album that was from ’99. I recorded, edited, and burned that myself on my lap…on my desktop. But then in 2004, It’s Never Going to be Bread came out.
GNN: Okay. I might have mixed up the dates…
JK: Oh, wait. No, that was 2006. Wait, maybe you’re right because here’s the thing about Cake, that is my first album, ostensibly, except you can’t find it anymore because I burned it on my computer and the CDs are corrupted. So, if you ever see it on sale, make them put it in, and all you’ll see is sort of a secret embedded text file. Somebody told me that they found it in a store in Nebraska.
Anyway, It’s Never Going to be Bread, was my first album that was done by my professionals, shall we say.
GNN: Okay. Gotcha.
JK: So, Bread is great, and then Circus People came out in 2007. Anyway, Circus People’s is the first one. Bread had the stuff from Cake. I just did a bunch of material that was on that first album that was now gone. I put it on my second album with a bunch of other new stuff. So, It Is Never Going to be Bread might be my best album just because it is more than 10 years of material.
GNN: Oh, wow, okay.
JK: So, Circus People was before that and Cake Is Not My Downfall was before. Cake Is Not My Downfall, now, out of the running. Circus People, a pretty good album, but just two or three years of me working on bits, right? And then Bread came out, and that’s 10 years of material, which is good.
Then, This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux comes out in 2014, and it’s a lot darker because it would make an excellent Horcrux! That one did very well. I mean, it was on all the charts. I mean, it did Amazon on iTunes number one for a couple of days.
Then, I Am Not the Hero of This Story was recorded six weeks after the election in 2016, and I was terrified. I had never really done political material before. I did sort of sociopolitical, but I Am Not the Hero of This Story, the first 10 minutes is me panting while I’m just like, “What do you think is going to happen, you guys?” And so that one was number three on Billboard.
GNN: Oh, wow, nice.
JK: I never made Billboard before. And now, coming out in two weeks on November 16th is my new album. I was supposed to do it in the spring of 2020, but I had to keep practicing on Zoom shows because of lockdown.
So, I did three to five Zoom shows a week when we were on lockdown out of my garage. And then I just recorded it in July, and I filmed the special too, so.
GNN: Now we’re talking about Stay-Kashian, your new album?
JK: That’s it. That’s it. It’s called Stay-Kashian, yeah, because my last name’s Kashian, and I live in hope that people will pronounce my name correctly.
GNN: Yeah. That’s another thing I always do. I always try to find audio of someone pronouncing someone’s name when it’s not obvious. Yours was one of them. My last name is Muller and people get it wrong all the time and yours is a bit more complicated.
JK: People like to ethnic it up. They’re like, “Cashion. Cashjian.” What’s happening? And I’m like, “Just Kashian like staycation, like vacation, yeah, altercation.”
GNN: You could basically name all your albums like Sue Grafton, who does all the books with, “N for this and V for that.” You can just go with -cation words like Altercation.
JK: Right. This album was going to be called Alter-Kashian, because during the lockdown, the bit that was an altercation, which was a six-minute bit being at the Delta Sky Club and then me at the grocery store. It was a great bit. It may come back: we don’t know. So, I could name the next album Alter-Kashian, but hopefully, I won’t have any more altercations. How about that? Yeah.
GNN: So, here’s the stupid cliche question. Has comedy gotten harder or easier?
JK: Well, that’s an interesting question. Personally, comedy’s gotten easier. Comedy itself, I think it’s also easier just because it’s easier to get up. It’s easier to get stage time. It’s easier to start. It’s easier to get a following.
Here’s one of the coolest things that I’ve noticed in the last…it has to be 20-odd years now. And remember, I’ve been doing it for 36. Too long. A long time. But in the last 20-odd years, there have been several golden ages. We’re in a golden age of standup comedy, wherein in the late ’90s, it was that all that old stuff. And Janeane Garofalo and Patton Oswalt and Paul F Tompkins and Karen Kilgariff and all these people who became very popular out of that, where it was more storytelling…David Cross and Bob Odenkirk and all this.
It became storytelling. It became more interesting. It went back to both an old-timey kind of funny storytelling thing with also strong punchlines and super dark, right? And Zach Galifianakis and Sarah Silverman doing ironic racism. And then there was a terrible time when a lot of people thought, “Oh, ironic racism.” And you’re like, “Haha, skilled labor. Oh, best of luck. Oh, please be very careful.” And but the thing is, after that old up and down, right, the next thing that happens, in my opinion, is the bearded youth movement toward 2002, 2003. Kyle Kinane, Bill Burr was part of it, I think. And then there was a bunch of names that I’m spacing. And then in the latter part of it, like Sean Patton and stuff.
But in the last like five or six years, it’s all women. All of these young women in their late 20s and early 30s who are super smart, super dark, and really, really…I mean, there’s the famous-y ones, right? There’s Nikki Glaser and Iliza Shlesinger and Amy Schumer, right? If you get a chance to see, Brandie Posey or Erin Jackson, or Erin Foley…there are so many great comics that are women.
GNN: Yeah, my wife and I recently watched Fortune Feimster’s special. She was hysterical. It was so good.
JK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. She’s outstanding. And she’s like that because I think now she’s in her mid or late 30s. But it’s like there was that way Brandie Posey is part of that with Barbara Gray and Tess Rafferty, not Tess Rafferty. Tess Rafferty’s closer to my age. But there are also the people that kept doing it, right, that kept writing are better today than they’ve ever been. There’s always going to be dinosaurs, right? People who stop writing who are still doing their closer from ’96 and you’re just like, “You’re exhausting. Why aren’t you evolving because it’s still happening to you? Why won’t you do your job?”
But there are people my age that is still writing. Like, right now, I am in Minneapolis on the 30th anniversary of my home club’s opening. So, Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis. And I’m with some of the greatest working comics right now. And last night I got to see Derek Hughes, who’s a magician and a comic, amazing. And in the ’90s, the words “magician” and “comic” will make you want to retch yourself. So, the fact that Derek Hughes has risen essentially above both of those things too, again, meld and makes something gorgeous.
There’s also Mary Mack, who is squeaky-voiced…she does a lot of animation voiceover stuff. She’s from northern Wisconsin. Weirdly enough, 40 miles from one of my best friends, Maria Bamford. And Maria Bamford grew up in Duluth. Mary Mack grew up in Superior Wisconsin, and so they both have the same accent. And they’re also both tiny, very thin women and have high voices. So, people get mixed up and you’re like, “You’re wrong. Their material diametrically– I mean very, very firmly opposed.”
And then Chad Daniels. One of my favorite things about Chad Daniels is there’s a certain age and a certain kind of male comic, boy comic, right, who does a standup comic that’s like, “I’m dumb. I do dumb things.” And then here’s a punch line. With Chad Daniels, it’s, “I am not dumb. I do dumb things,” and then a punchline. He is the most…it’s a delight. You will enjoy all of this always.
GNN: I’ve definitely been checking out a lot of comedians that other comedians recommend. This job has at least led to so many entertainment things, whether it’s Wayne Federman or Jim Florentine or Fortune Feimster. So, yeah, I’m definitely going to Chad Daniels. Now, before I ask any more questions, let me make sure they can get Stay-Kashian on– it’s not iTunes anymore. I keep calling it that. Apple Music.
GNN: Apple Music, Amazon. Can they go on Amazon and get it?
They can’t go get a CD in their local CD store anymore…
JK: No. They could get a CD from me!
GNN: Oh, on your website. They can go on your website and get a CD. All right, so. And you have a very cleverly named website.
JK: jackiekashian.com or familypetancestry.com, which I bought because it made me laugh. I used to joke about how, if you want to know if your cat came over on the Mayflower, and yeah. Or if your dog’s part of the dogs of the American Revolution.
GNN: Seriously, are you shitting me right now? Do you really own that site?
JK: I do. If you go to familypetancestry.com, it will take you to jackiekashian.com. It made me laugh, and if something makes me laugh, I will spend $11 a year.
Anyway, here’s the thing. With Stay-Kashian, you can listen to it streaming for free on Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM. You can get the CD and download and buy it, and I think I get more money if you do, from Apple or Amazon or…I think there’s one other place to buy stuff, isn’t there? It’s iTunes, Amazon. No. Just, I think, those are the two.
GNN: Those are the two I use.
JK: Right. And Pandora and Spotify are streaming services. Sirius XM also has some sort of streaming business. And then if you want the CD, you can buy it from jackiekashian.com.
I’m also getting DVDs made because…and the only reason I got CDs and DVDs made is because my father is 84 years old. Every one of my albums, there’s at least 10 to 20 minutes of material about my dad, and he loves it. Sometimes he calls me and goes, “I missed you, so I put in one of your DVDs.” And I was like, “Did you miss me, or did you miss me talking about you?” And he was like, “I think the second thing.” So, I will have DVDs on my website, but it will be available just on YouTube, where you can just watch the special on 800-Pound Gorilla’s YouTube channel.
GNN: Okay. That’s all the places they can find your stuff. And in addition to that, if that is not enough Jackie, then you’ve got two podcasts. You’re on not one, but two podcasts. Dork Forest and The Jackie and Laurie Show.
JK: Yeah. Dork Forest. Jackie and Laurie Show. Jackie and Laurie Show…if you love standup comedy, Laurie Kilmartin is an amazing comic. She wrote for Conan until Conan ended just now, and a road comic. She has a new album out. Allow me to plug it.
JK: It’s called Corset, and it is available everywhere I just mentioned, but not my website. It is also streaming, and you can listen to it on Pandora and Spotify. But Laurie Kilmartin is one of the darkest, best joke writers I’ve ever met in my life.
GNN: And on The Dork Forest, basically, you just have people on and talk about, “dorky dorkdoms,” as you mentioned in air quotes. Who’s your favorite guest you had on that show?
JK: Oh my God, there are so many great episodes. Currently, I don’t know. Greg Proops was just talking about the Negro baseball league.
GNN: So, here’s the real question. Here’s the real brain bender. Dream guest on The Dork Forest, dream guest, and dream topic?
JK: I do have dream guests. I’m working right now trying to get Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction. They’re comic book writers. Kelly Sue DeConnick famously wrote Captain Marvel and her husband, Matt Fraction, weirdly enough, famously wrote Hawkeye. But they both have independent books as well. I’ve had several great comic book artist writers on. I had Mark Wade on. He talked about Superman. It was amazing. I’ve had Laraine Newman on from SNL. I’m spacing. National Lampoon’s Vacation, who played the mom? Beverly D’Angelo. I had Beverly D’Angelo. I’ve had to Zappas on. I would kind of like to complete the series with Dweezil.
GNN: That sounds awesome. And they can listen to that on…
JK: They can get to it from jackiekashian.com.
GNN: I’m going to have to listen to these.
JK: Yeah, you can cherry-pick too. If you Google the words cheat sheet dork forest 2021, you will get the top,
I’ve had more famous people than you’d imagine, right, or people that I don’t even think of them as famous because they’re just comics in my head, right? Like Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan and Kathleen Madigan.
So, I mean, comics are easy for me to get at because I know them. You just go, “What are you doing?” Maria Bamford has been on at least five times, and she used to do it every year. I’ve been doing the Dork Forest for 16 years. Yeah, so there are a thousand episodes, feel free to cherry-pick, you guys.
GNN: I was about to say, that’s some time. That’s a long car trip.
JK: Yeah. No need to be a numerologist. Feel free to just scroll.
GNN: The last thing I want to ask…when I get someone with some cool geek, nerd, pop-culture cred, especially during the pandemic is still kind of kicking around…what do you geek out on? What have you been geeking out on lately? Recommendations for books you’ve read or shows you watched or movies you’ve gone to see. What’s on the list?
JK: Yeah. There’s been a lot of amazing television that I have not watched. Here’s a list of the things that I have. There’s an Australian murder mystery show that is on Amazon Prime or BritBox called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It’s set in 1928. There are 21 books. I have currently read 14 of them. There are only three seasons of the TV show. I’ve watched all of the TV show, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
If you ever played D&D, her character is maxed out. She is beautiful, rich, she can ride a horse, she can fly a plane, she can do acrobatics, she is also on the right side of history every time, she is smart, she is– Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is the greatest. The movie which came out several years afterward is terrible. Avoid that.
JK: I also fell in love with called The Brokenwood Mysteries. It’s a Columbo-esque murder mystery show. And there are, I think, six seasons of that. And this is not a theme at all, but one of my favorite things that happened in the show is that we find out that Brokenwood, New Zealand, a fictional town, is supposedly one of the only towns in New Zealand that were never used as a shooting destination for Lord of the Rings. Very funny. One of the episodes is kind of about that. Anyway, but the whole show is adorable and super fun.
JK: Third show and final show. HBO Max. Not the American version, which just came out. I don’t know how that is. But I will tell you that the British version is hilarious. And it takes you three episodes, they’re 30 minutes each, it’s a sitcom and it’s called Ghosts. Plural.
Get this. An improv troupe in the United Kingdom sold themselves, the whole improv troupe, as an ensemble cast for a sitcom. There are nine of them or something. A couple inherits a mansion in the British countryside. They go. All the ghosts that have ever lived there, all the people that have ever died there, still live there, the ghosts. So, there are five ghosts. There’s a boy scout leader who has an arrow in his neck. There’s a member of Parliament without pants from the ’80s. There’s the lady of the manor who jumped out of a window in the 1600s. There’s a Regency poet. Oh, and there’s a Neanderthal. And then there’s a couple of other people. And the entire basement, where the fuse box is, is packed with ghosts because it was a plague trench.
JK: One of the couples that inherit this thing, knocks her head and she can now see the ghosts. And at first, I was like, “Contrived. Contrived.” I love it. And three seasons, Ghosts, try to make it to the third season.
GNN: So, we got what you’re geeking out on. Before we go, let’s remind people how they can find you. They can find your albums on Amazon Prime, any of your albums, and the new one Stay-Kashian or any of the previous ones. So, Amazon, and Apple Music, and…
JK: Sirius XM.
GNN: Sirius XM and Spotify to listen to your comedy…and then your podcasts?
JK: The Dork Forest and Jackie and Laurie. Yeah. You can watch them now because they’ve all been zoomed, so they’re on YouTube. Or if you go to JackieKashian.com literally and @JackieKashian, yeah, literally things are happening…links galore.
GNN: You’re also on Twitter and Instagram as well. If people want to find you there.
JK: I’m also on TikTok.
GNN: Right, little bites of funny!
JK: Oh, yeah.
GNN: Anything else.
JK: The new album comes out on the 16th, but a week from Monday, I’m doing an album release party that’s online, November 15th, 6 PM Pacific, live stream album release party, where a couple of people are going to do standup. Mary Lynn Rajskub from 24. Guy Branum and Maria Bamford, they’re all going to do 10-minute sets, and then we’re going to show clips for my new special. And with the ticket, you get a free download. You get the download with the ticket. You can get tickets at https://rushtix.com/events/jackiekashian/.
GNN: Well, that is all the time I’m going to steal from you.
JK: I appreciate it. I’m off to play D&D over Zoom right now.
GNN: Nice. Nice. I think I’m going to go bust out some Fallout 4…I’m feeling nostalgic.
JK: Oh, cool.
GNN: So again, thank you. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and thank you for your time.
JK: Take care. Have a good one.