To this familiar with Jen Kirkman’s “I Seem Fun” podcast, it’s hard to imagine this being done live. It’s one of my favorite podcasts because it’s so very personal. It’s essentially stream of consciousness musings from Kirkman’s home. There is nothing else quite like it, but I can hardly imagine it being done in front of an audience. I would be worried that we’d lose that sense of intimacy with an audience on tow.
Our evening began with a short set by singer/songwriter Brendan Hines. It was a really fun set! He had the chops of a young Jonathan Richman. He stood alone on stage playing acoustic guitar, and did two incredibly clever songs that told very clear and absurd stories. His guitar playing was a bit syncopated and jazzy, creating some very colorful sounds. He’s definitely got the skills to handle a full length set, and I can’t wait to hear more from him.
Kirkman came out in a whirlwind of energy, singing along to the Jonathan Edwards’ song “Sunshine,” while completely re-working the stage. She moved an ottoman with several magazines on it to the center. Then dumped the magazines on the floor to dance on the ottoman. I feel bad that the podcast listening audience isn’t going to get to see this wonderful bit of silliness that Kirkman kicked off the show with.
After she was finished with the song, Kirkman introduced the show while still standing on the ottoman. She explained that, since the predicted posting date of this podcast was February 12th, she wanted to do an “Anti-Valentines” themed episode. She admitted to not being a fan of the holiday, and then opened up a copy of The New Yorker in order to discuss major changes happening in Saudi Arabia. Most specifically the fact that Saudi Arabia lifted their ban on women working in retail. (She noted that, prior to this, only men could help women try on underwear!) It wasn’t exactly relevant to the over all topic at hand, but that didn’t matter because Kirkman is pretty passionate and articulate when it comes to politics. I could listen to her do a full hour on the lives of women in Muslim countries, and it would be the best hour ever.
In order to avoid alienating the whole audience, she moved onto a topic that is a bit more universal: “The Bachelor.” Much to her surprise, when she polled the audience asking who watched the show, the room was silent. Probably because San Franciscans won’t admit to watching any TV that isn’t Parks & Recreation or Breaking Bad. Nonetheless, Kirkman remained witty and insightful this whole time. Not to give away too much, since you will have the joy of listening to this on your own, but she made plenty of note about the hypocrisy of the show. Like, we are supposed to respect the single mothers for working so hard, yet overlook the fact that they basically left their kids to fend on their own for two months straight.
She then told us of her best Valentine’s Day, which consisted of her boyfriend dumping her because she’d rather see The Ramones on V-Day than spend the evening on a run of the mill Valentines’ date. This is a decision that I respect greatly. I didn’t have to make this choice, but if I was dating somebody that didn’t have any interest in a Ramones show, I would also be questioning whether or not I should be in said relationship. It may have been the most heartwarming break up story ever. Next she pulled out a listener email where a married man asked advice on what to do about his crush on a coworker. Again, you’ll just need to download the podcast to get the meat of this story. You may need to listen two or three times to decide whether or not we should sympathize with a guy that’s basically asking if he can cheat on his wife with a coworker. Kirkman was so puzzled by what to do that she actually called her Dad to help with advice.
The show closed out with Hines coming back for him and Kirkman to sing a rousing rendition of The Bee Gee’s “More Than A Woman” to a lucky woman in the audience. Kirkman is not the most comfortable singer on Earth, and it was a bit sillier than it was good. Hines did one more song while Kirkman ran through the audience, trying to sign as many books as she could before getting kicked out of the theater to make room for the late show. None of my worries about the live show lacking the intimacy of the podcast were founded. In fact, the audience only made for a much more personal and enjoyable experience. (I was really mad that I left my copy of “I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself” at home. Jen- if you actually are reading this, I’d really like a copy signed. I’ll even mail you my copy to sign and send back to me if you are willing to do that. My email address is [email protected]. Let me know if we can make this happen)
Do yourself a huge favor and subscribe to I Seem Fun. You will not regret it.