MONTREAL — Dressed head-to-toe in sleek black, Jen Kirkman performed the conclusion of what would be our Just For Laughs coverage, and yes, I did allow myself to be dazzled. Part one-woman show, part straight up stand-up (in Kirkman’s own estimation), her adorably neurotic, conversational style was in full effect, and the intimacy of the venue fit the performer like a velvet glove.
As part of the spunky alternative Off JFL series, Kirkman seemed more like a rock star than ever as she riffed on marriage, divorce, babies and death. Though she and her husband of two years have since split, she wants us all to know that she’s happy about it, and we “shouldn’t be sad. “Divorce is just a legal term for no one’s farted in my bed for 2 years,” she says. “There was no ceremony.” The Chelsea Lately regular devoted a good deal of show time to engaging the audience, at one point asking any black people in the audience to reassure us whiteys that it was ok for her to affect a black TSA agent’s accent. She also gave out copies of the audio version of her book, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself to a few lucky fans – one to a married couple, as a reward for enduring her “married people are the worst” bit (which was hilarious); one to the black guy who helped with the reassurance part (sorta); and one to the first actually gay guy she could find (because you gotta watch out for those faux-mos.)
It’s not surprising that she worked so well under these particular settings: I’ve always been tempted to assign her some indie attributes, and her work does strike me as being reminiscent of the early performances of Janeane Garofalo or Margaret Cho. Still, Kirkman is very much her own woman with a distinctive voice.