Comedienne Jen Kirkman, funny minus the buzz | Comedy Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Comedienne Jen Kirkman, funny minus the buzz 

The "Drunk History" alum and Chelsea Lately writer headlines the Hideout.

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Jen Kirkman

Jen Kirkman

Robyn Von Swank

The first time most people met Jen Kirkman, she was drunk. She narrated two installments of the Funny or Die video series "Drunk History," in which people intentionally get slurry, spitty, and heavy-lidded to explain some aspect of history that will later be acted out, right down to the dialogue, by other really funny people in period garb. (An aside: "Drunk History" is slated to premiere as a Comedy Central series this summer—way to stay current, guys.)

One of Kirkman's episodes, maybe the funniest "Drunk History," features Will Ferrell as Abraham Lincoln and Don Cheadle as Frederick Douglass. Kirkman lies on a sofa, eyelids at half mast, and drifts in and out of lucidity, skipping like a record when she forgets what she's talking about ("about . . . about . . . about"). She accidentally calls Frederick Douglass "Richard Dreyfuss." Since then—roughly 2,997,397 views later—Kirkman's had the opportunity to be a funny sober person.

She's a regular on Paul F. Tompkins's Pod F. Tompkast and her stand-up gets a lot of online play. A favorite topic: female masturbation, in particular the difficulty women have cultivating fantasies that are plausible enough to not be distracting. Elsewhere in her routine she talks about her decision to not have kids and the frustration of forever being told, "You'll change your mind." She jokes, "I just never had that instinct . . . to ruin my life." She fleshes out the premise in her new book, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids. These days she writes for Chelsea Handler's E! talk show Chelsea Lately—and also appears on the horrifyingly self-indulgent spin-off After Lately—but we won't hold it against her.

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