Jen Kirkman

Prior to taking the stage at Chicago’s Thalia Hall on Oct. 6, Jen Kirkman told Rebellious Magazine why she loves performing at the venue. “I’m so excited to be returning to Chicago, and I love Thalia Hall,” Kirkman said in the interview. “I played there last year, and the acoustics are great. It’s really great when you have a venue where the laughs actually make it to you on stage and they don’t fly up into the rafters.”

Laughs soared across every corner of the hall on show night throughout Kirkman’s 90-minute performance – as well as during Chicago’s own Paul Farahvar’s opening set – as she shared hilarious new insights into some of fans’ favorite topics, including meditation, women’s rights and the male feminist conundrum. Upon diving into what would prove to be one of the night’s primary themes — what’s got Kirkman so fired-up these days — one audience member sitting in the venue’s upper tier learned a difficult truth regarding the consequences of heckling during a performance. “Kick her out,” said the comedian after the disruptor repeatedly shouted, “no politics,” amidst the first five minutes of her set.

Jen Kirkman“We have Nazis marching in the streets, and you don’t want to talk about politics?” Kirkman questioned over unanimous cheering and applause. Moving on, the comedian detailed real-life moments of personal harassment, from a man who called her a witch at the airport and online attacks from paid political trolls that have resulted in tarnished business relationships.

Yes, we are living in troubled times, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t seek out a peaceful sanctuary every now and again. Kirkman recently tried to find tranquility by going on a five-day silent retreat in honor of her 43rd birthday. Her retelling of the experience was entertaining from start to finish as she found bits of hilarity in every aspect of the quiet vacation. From her internal monologue analyzing the lives of her fellow retreaters to her rage-filled meditation session with a raucous rule-breaker to her multi-faceted experience with a turkey, Kirkman had the crowd bowled over with laughter throughout the long-form story.

While the entirety of her retreat reflection was downright hilarious, what truly sent the crowd into fits of laughter was her aggravation at the contents of the kitchen, which she shared with three other women. Even carrots provided comedic inspiration for Kirkman as she became increasingly riled up by the root vegetables.

“Every generation thinks that the world is ending,” said Kirkman later in her set. “But, I really think this could actually be it.” She went on to analyze the logic of having children in Trump’s America before questioning the ferocity of modern dictators. She also hilariously told fans of the fury she feels for young men when they insist, “Bernie would have won.”

Jen Kirkman

Kirkman had no problem finding humor in the stressful state of the country, but she closed things out with some funny and friendly advice on how to cope with the never-ending negative news. “On election night, I watched a Hallmark Christmas movie, and I would like to tell you about that film,” she said, revealing that the feminist, albeit not inclusive, genre perfectly showcases that women can – and deserve to – have it all.

Kirkman’s All New Material, Girl Tour will continue through Nov. 17, and she has additional stand-up dates scheduled in December. Head over to to stay up-to-date with her latest news and events.

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...