Jackie Kashian cherishes her friendship with fellow comedian Maria Bamford.
“We support each other comedically and when we're down,” Kashian says. “We bounce comedy premises off each other and tag each other's work. And then, we get to go to lunch and coffee and talk about real life too. It's the best.”
A comedy veteran with several specials to her name, Kashian will visit The Comedy Attic in Bloomington from Dec. 13-15. Beforehand, our Seth Johnson interviewed her via email, discussing podcasts, The Bob & Tom Show, and more.
NUVO: I always like asking comedians this question. What people or places were crucial to your development as a comic in your early days? Why were they impactful?
JACKIE KASHIAN: I started at college in Madison, Wisconsin, and I did stand-up every night for eight months (until the club closed). I got a 1.8 that semester, but it was an immersion program that was worth about two years of open mics. [I did] at least seven sets a week in front of normal people…not other comics.
NUVO: When did you first develop a relationship with The Bob & Tom Show? What work have you done with them, and what have you enjoyed about that work?
KASHIAN: I've been on the show for probably 10 years. Jared at the Attic got me in, and we hit it off. They are enormously supportive of stand-up comedy.
NUVO: I know that you and Maria Bamford are good friends. How did you two first meet?
KASHIAN: Maria and I have been friends since open mics and shows in Minneapolis in 1992. She's a delight, isn't she? She supports me in my journey (that's what her merch t-shirt says), and it's specifically true of me. I, too, support her on her journey.
NUVO: You got into podcasting back in 2005 before the whole podcasting craze hit full force. What was it like starting a podcast when you did? Are things at all different now?
KASHIAN: The Dork Forest is like every career I've ever had. I fell into it, and I was lucky enough to want to do it for the fun of it. It’s a great way to meet fans. And I get to hear about what people love. I say it every time before the show starts, to whoever the guest is, "We talk for an hour, and it's over almost immediately because you're talking about something you love.” Here's a fan starter cheat sheet. It's just a list of guests and dorkdoms.
I just started another podcast with Laurie Kilmartin (The Jackie and Laurie Show), and it's entirely about stand-up. We just celebrate and bitch about the wonderfulness that is stand-up comedy. There are a million comedy podcasts where middle-aged white guys talk alone (Bill Burr) or with others (too many to name) but not two middle-aged white women. I wouldn't call it a step forward…more a lateral move.
NUVO: What are some things you've recently been dorking out over?
KASHIAN: Books. I'm buried in historical romance novels. I'm into N.K. Jemisin's Hugo-winning sci-fi/fantasy series. I'm playing a lot of Marvel Puzzle Quest. I'm into cooking Vietnamese food a bit. I continue to love a lot of comic books. I just wrote my first one, and that was neat. I read mostly Marvel but some DC and a bunch of indie stuff.
NUVO: As someone who's been in comedy for a long time, how are things different now from when you started, particularly when it comes to gender equality?
KASHIAN: Essentially, the biggest thing is that there's another woman to make eye contact with in the green room when some guy makes some gang rape joke. Fun! We can look at each other for exit plans if the joke isn't funny. Or we can laugh together at the funny gang rape joke.
NUVO: In what areas would you like to see the world of comedy improve as a whole (whether that relates to my previous question or not)?
KASHIAN: Because of the internet and 24-hour TV, the U.S. has been enjoying a golden age of comedy. In 1999, it was "alternative" comedy that didn't have to be setup/punch [joke format].
15 years ago, there was a rush of really, really funny bearded white guys. We're currently learning about a pile of 30-year old women that are unique to comedy and are so funny. Overqualified Black/brown and Asian men and women have forced their way into both of those groups by being more interesting than everyone else. I'm looking forward to the next wave of super specific humanity! It might be anyone!