You know her as a stand-up comedian, staff writer and regular on E! Chelsea Lately
and After Lately. In her book, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy
Life without Kids, Kirkman reveals the reasons behind her decision to not have children.
(Is it bad that I, a mother, can relate?)
She’s been donned one of the top comedians to follow. Last week I had spasms in my
cheek muscles and tears streaming down my face from uncontrollable laughs watching
Jen’s stand-up at the American Comedy Club, here in San Diego.
The following day, I got to interview Jen. While I did laugh, I also found myself surprised
at how much I related to her and eager for the sequel to this book.
SF: Okay, first I have to tell you… I have not laughed so hard in my life to the point where I could not stop. I was actually crying.
JK: Oh my god! Thank you so much! That means so much!
SF: So, what is the hardest part about taking care of yourself?
JK: I’m horrible with time management and prioritizing. Like, it’s bad. I take a load of laundry in my dryer as seriously as a deadline. I am very easily overwhelmed. I’m like, “Oh my god, I have so much to do!”
I don’t really need to do it, because I’m totally, like, you know, self-diagnosed OCD and so I have to have everything done before I feel settled. So I think something that would be hard for me, if I was a mom, is having someone follow me around the house and basically undo everything I’m doing every second.
SF: How do you go about the writing process when time management is hard?
JK: Well, when I was writing the book I had to schedule out time. I don’t know if it’s true for everybody, but for me it’s like you get rebellious, even if you’re the one setting the deadline. I want to rebel against the deadline. I don’t know why. It’s inherent in me. So when I was writing this book, I was working full-time as a writer on Chelsea lately and filming After Lately and I was going on the road one or two weekends a month. So I had to get up at 6AM and write for an hour in the morning and I had to write on the nights that I wasn’t filming, when I got home at night. On the weekends, I would write all day.
With the book, it was my own thing, so when it was time to sit down and write. I was like, “I don’t want to! I haven’t had a day off!” I would procrastinate and the days that I was supposed to write from 9 to 5, I was definitely sequestered in my room or at a coffee shop writing, but did I write for 8 hours straight? No, maybe an hour. I’d write a paragraph and then outline what I was going to say. For me, I was making notes and I would have to trick myself. Like, “Why don’t I just pretend I’m writing this down in a blog or something that’s a less high-pressure and more fun.” I would have to play tricks on my mind.
But then there were times I’d wake up in the middle of the night and feel like writing. And I would be like, “What is wrong with me?” So I’d get up and write at 3 in the morning for like an hour. And that, actually, for me, was the best. When I woke up or felt like writing, that’s when… good stuff happens.
SF: What made you say, “Okay, I’ve got to write this book?”
JK: Well, I’ve always wanted to write a book, since I started doing comedy about 15 years ago. And with every different agent I had, I would always pitch a book idea. Sometimes it wouldn’t be even to the level where the agent felt comfortable pitching it to a book publishing company. They’d say, “No, I don’t think anyone is going to buy that.”
So I’ve been trying forever to write a couple different books. Usually they were about what a kind of weird kid I was growing up and stuff like that. And then when I started going on the road with my material, I had some jokes about how I don’t like kids and even though the jokes are very much on me, people would come up to me after and go, “You’ll change your mind. You say you don’t want kids, but I said that too.” And I thought it was so strange that strangers would say that to me.
But it kept happening! And I was telling my manager about it, and she was like, “Why don’t you write a book about that?” And I was like, “That’s a great idea.”
The publisher from Simon and Schuster, who ended up buying the book didn’t have kids either and people were always asking her this stuff and she was looking for something like this. She also watched Chelsea Lately so she knew me already from the show. It was all just a perfect storm.
SF: How do you stay grounded and centered and so optimistic all of the time?
JK: Well, I’m really healthy and I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke. I drink so little. And I go to acupuncture and I’m like kind of a hippie dippy spiritual kind of person and I exercise so I take really good care of myself. But the perspective stuff—I’m having the time of my life now. I did stand up for 16 years, since I was 21. And I did it while working a series of day jobs that I didn’t enjoy. So I had like 13 years of completely being broke. So now I’m … so happy. I don’t have to stay positive or anything, or hopeful, because I’m right in the middle of doing what I love. And I think, actually, the more you do what you love and the more you’re loving it, then I think the more good things keep happening. And then I stay grounded because of the standup. Like I can put on the best show of my life at 7:30 and then at 9:30 the whole crowd hates me. So there’s no staying humble that I need to do, it’s part of the job that I get kicked down plenty.
SF: Tell the truth, how do you feel about married people with kids?
JK: I don’t have any judgment on people married with kids. To me, I understand that’s the normal thing to do in society. My whole take is more like, I know everyone else is normal, but I thought we lived in a time period/country that we’re getting more used to people that don’t do everything that we do.
It’s funny though because I live the life of someone who’s married with kids. Like I go to bed at ten. I don’t go clubbing or anything ever. My married friends do that. They’re like, “My girlfriends are going to dinner at, like 9, and then we’re going to a club.” And I’ll just think, “But then you have to get up in the morning and your kid is jumping on your head and that sounds awful.”
SF: If you could pick one celebrity to share a whole weekend with, who would it be with?
JK: I know this sounds really cliché, but my reasons are different. I’m going to say George Clooney. Because he would have enough money to take me wherever I wanted to go and I’m not really attracted to him, like he’s a little too old for me, but I would love to go out with him and be each other’s wingmen. All the girls would come up to him and I’d be like, “Totally, you can have him,” and then all the guys would be like, “Oh my god, that lady doesn’t want George Clooney?” Then… I don’t know, we’ll go to his place in Lake Como and then he’s going to tell me if he’s gay or not.
Sounds like a great plan to me!
Jen’s book will be released April 16th, but you don’t have to wait till then to buy. You can pre-order now! In the meantime, keep watching Chelsea Lately and After Lately for more laughs with Jen and the crew.