After all of the difficulties 2020 has unleashed, we all can use a healthy helping of yuletide spirit. No one knows if there’ll be snow this holiday season, but you can count on Jen Kirkman to serve up a cup of comedy cheer in the form of her Annual Dysfunctional Xmas Show on Friday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. CT.
Due to the pandemic, the comedian/writer/podcast host moved the ninth annual event from its previous home at the Hollywood Improv in California to her living room where it will be beamed to fans across the world via a virtual platform. Sketches, songs, special guests and more will give comedy fans the gift of laughter.
“I always say this is the one holiday party that you want to go to,” said Kirkman by phone last month. “It is my chance to do a variety show which I don’t normally do. In the live version, I always come out singing this Elvis Christmas song called “Santa Claus is Back in Town” and then I jump up on the piano at the Hollywood Improv and I throw candy at the audience. Obviously none of that will be happening, but I will still sing an opening song badly. I’ll do a little monologue about – oh I don’t know, something – and I have surprise guests. They’re all comedian friends of mine and people will be delighted by it.”
Each special guest is set to share a dysfunctional story about the holidays. Kirkman also teased that she plans on including a Hallmark Christmas movie spoof that will incorporate the fact that Lori Loughlin – a one-time favorite of the Hallmark Channel – is in jail.
“The show is less than 90 minutes of good fun. I know people will love it because they always love it when it’s live. If you can watch it with your sweatpants on and you don’t have to drive anywhere, I imagine that will be even more fun,” said Kirkman later adding that her “beautiful, white Christmas tree” will be featured in the background.
Kirkman has been reluctant to perform stand-up in the virtual realm, but she believes the variety show format of the Dysfunctional Christmas Show is ideal for the setting.
“I think this kind of show is perfect for online because it’s way more personal,” she explained. “It’s ever-changing. What you’re looking at will change every five to 10 minutes and it will keep your interest. I’ve been reluctant to stand in my living room with a microphone doing one-hour of stand-up for people and I think this lends itself really well to online.”
Throughout the pandemic, Kirkman has remained in contact with fans on social media. She is also offering to send anyone in need of anxiety tips or techniques a now-63 page PDF file based on her experiences.
“I remembered how it felt when I didn’t know where to turn and I felt that anxiety was way more serious than it was,” she explained of putting together the PDF. “I thought, ‘I actually have a lot of information here. I know how to help people. I know how they might be feeling. I know the weird little thoughts we have when we’re anxious.’”
She also offered relaxation classes for a time and she converted her tour dates email list into an “Anxiety Bites” newsletter, as well.
“I started teaching these classes on Sundays – I’m not doing it any more right now – but they were just to help people relax. I shared relaxation tips, breathing tips, muscle relaxation, learning the basics of what I call a “brain vacation.”
She added that anyone who is able should consult with a professional.
“I think everyone should get a really good therapist if they can, but if they can’t right now there’s so many free things you can read online that are written by therapist that can really help,” Kirkman said.
So, how does Jen Kirkman relax? Currently, she has been enjoying quiet nights at home writing postcards to encourage Georgia voters to head to the polls for the state’s Senate runoff election on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
“That’s my new favorite thing to do because I’m not really great with phone-banking. I’ve done it. I don’t love it. So, all throughout the election I signed up with different organizations to write postcards – I’m a democrat so you write to other democrats to try to get them to vote. It’s all people who’ve agreed to have their address on this list. It’s really just encouraging people to have their voting plan,” she said. “It’s really relaxing. You get this script and you write the same thing over and over on a bunch of postcards. Most people would find that monotonous. For me it’s oddly soothing. I’ll pour a glass of wine. I’ll start writing my postcards and it’s a very relaxing night for me. I’m doing it again right now for the Georgia runoff making sure people know when the voting date is, to actually get out and do it and that voting actually could turn the Senate blue if that is of interest to people. If not, then they should not do that.”
Kirkman has two stand-up specials currently on Netflix, I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine) and Just Keep Livin’?, the latter’s title borrowing from the iconic Dazed and Confused line delivered by Matthew McConaughey. A fan of the Interstellar actor, Kirkman explained that she has been enjoying McConaughey’s recently released memoir though she is less than thrilled about headlines announcing a could-be foray into stand-up comedy.
“I love the book,” Kirkman said. “It’s really well done and it’s got some crazy stories from his childhood. His dad was a real wild man. It’s so funny because I just saw this headline – I didn’t click to read the whole article – but it said that Matthew McConaughey is going to start doing stand-up. Headlines can be misleading so I don’t know if that’s true, but I was like, ‘Just stay in your lane dude. I know your book is funny, but it doesn’t mean you can do stand-up.”
“And, I’ve already taken Just Keep Livin’? as the title of my Netflix special,” she added with a laugh.
Enjoy stand-up, sketches, stories and more with Jen Kirkman’s 9th Annual Dysfunctional Xmas Show when it streams live on Friday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. CT. It will be made available worldwide for 48 hours after the date of the show to accommodate any conflicts.
Click here to pick up a ticket to the show and reach out to Kirkman at anxietybitesweekly at gmail.com – title the email “Anxiety Help” – to receive her anxiety resource PDF. “No Fun: The Jen Kirkman Podcast” can be listened to wherever you get your podcasts.