On Thursday night at Durham’s Carolina Theatre, I’ll see Maria Bamford live for the fourth time and it will be the third time I’ve seen Jackie Kashian do a feature set before Bamford’s headline act.
My second Bamford show at Charlotte’s Comedy Zone several years ago served as my introduction to Kashian’s comedy and after one set, I became an instant fan.
Their styles don’t fit into an easy-to-describe stand-up box, but I think that only adds to their appeal. In addition to often performing on the same bill, Kashian and Bamford are longtime friends and during a Wednesday morning email interview, I asked Kashian about how their friendship continues to evolve after 25 years.
We also discussed how sobriety has affected both of our careers, Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin’s outstanding podcast “The Jackie and Laurie Show” and more.
Enjoy the interview, follow Kashian on Twitter and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: You and Maria have known each other for more than 20 years now. What’s it like being close to her?
Jackie Kashian: The thing people probably think about being friends with Maria is true: She’s always working on being a better friend. So we’ve been acquaintances since 1992, but our friendship is still growing. She’s great obviously. It’s fun to hang with her and, because of how she’s trying to be a better person, the conversations are more interesting than with people you aren’t that close to. And she reads and loves the home improvement, what I call self help stuff, books so much that it makes me reevaluate what kind of human I am working on being. So, win/win!
TC: I’ve heard you mention the meetings you and Maria have where you do each other’s bits or do your own bits for each other or something like that. What do you call that exercise?
JK: Joke Machine. We run joke ideas and finished bits at each other in the hopes to get new lines or new insight into the material. The only rule of Joke Machine is you can’t say, “Why would you want to talk about that?” Just go with, “There’s something there” and try to think of angles to help flush out what’s funny about anything.
TC: I’m closing in on 500 days sober and since I stopped drinking, I’ve gotten a new job in a new city that I love. Things started improving for me almost right away after I quit boozing. Do you think you would have been able to build the career you’ve built if you had kept drinking?
JK: It would certainly look a lot different. I’ve had a couple DUIs and that’s no secret and I do stand-up 4-5 nights a week so me still drinking and driving — if I were still alive — I don’t know that the successful comics I get to open for — Maria and Brian Regan — would want me near them. While I always showed up for the gigs, learning how to live without the self medication of getting drunk all the time had definitely sent my material in an interesting direction. Who knows what it’d be if I were still drinking? It would be a different career for sure.
TC: “The Jackie and Laurie Show” is, I think, the best podcast about stand-up comedy that there is. I love to hear you two talk about your sets, new material, road gigs, different crowds, all of that. It’s great. Was that the idea when you started it, to have two experienced, talented stand-ups talk mostly about stand-up?
JK: Oh, thanks! I think so and there were/are so many dudes podcasting about stand-up and people think or used to think of women comics as unicorns so it might even look like we had a different angle. Laurie says that she was inspired to do the show when I was bellyaching about some booker guy who told me he wasn’t booking any women in their 40s for this TV show. I only remember her saying to me, “You know that lame question that is always asked of women comics? What’s it like being a woman comic? Wanna answer that damn question every week?” Which is what we inadvertently do only because it’s the perspective that we have to come from. But it’s not a conscious perspective. No one is truly aware of the water they’re swimming in all the time. They just have expectations and adjust for it, as it’s always been.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
i will achieve total comprehension of string theory before i can grasp the thought process of people who push already-lit elevator buttons
— andy levy (@andylevy) September 19, 2017