Jackie Kashian: Punching Up!


jackie kashain 2One of America’s greatest unsung comedians is Jackie Kashian. Last time SUSC did an in-depth origin story on Jackie (http://www.standupsantacruz.com/jackie-kashian-better-with-a-punchline/), but this time was a bit more off the cuff. A comic book buff (listen to her podcast The Dork Forest), Jackie has a new project writing her first comic book for STARBURNS (Dan Harmon’s company): https://www.comicscomicskickstarter.com/. But it’s on the stage that Jackie shines. From Comedy Central to entertaining the troops, Jackie is a must-see! She will be in Santa Cruz on September 8th. Tickets here. https://www.facebook.com/events/661382160902200/


Jackie: How’s it going?

SUSC: Good. I’m excited because we have already covered the early years, so let’s jump in.

Jackie: When did we last talk and what did we talk about?

A couple of years ago. We talked about your early years, how you worked for hippies, how the alt. comics rebelled against the traditional format.

Now it’s been co-opted by the man. Now everybody is alt. What’s the alternative to the alt? You gotta buy a ballon? I’m unsure.

Right. Exactly. You have great podcasts, and you’re a guest on a bunch of podcasts, you’re writing for an upcoming comic book, you have TV appearances and comedy specials, in fact you are doing everything that is required of a multi-platform comic these days. And we talked last time about how the Alt. comics brought comedy out of the clubs and into coffee shops, furniture stores and anywhere a mic can be put. Now, here we are, full circle, with comedy shows flourishing in new and strange locations.

Oh yeah. Essentially somebody thinks they are going out to dinner and they are not. They are going to a comedy show, whether they want to or not. My favorite one is a friend asked me if I would do her show in West Hollywood in a bar. Two days before she said, “Hey, I forgot, I have a paying gig that night, can you host my show?” I said OK and she gave me the list of comics, none of whom I recognized, besides one. When I showed up I realized it was the first night of her show. I asked the bartender if the people there knew there was going to be a show and he said, nope. I went table to table and said, “Guess what’s going to happen in 10 minutes? I can’t tell you what the other comics are going to be like, but I’m hilarious!” It all worked for at least the first 10 minutes.

Have you done dispensaries?

I did a weed shop the other night. The show is called Wake and Bake and next to a Boba Tea place that isn’t owned by Thai’s but by Whitey McGoo’s. The Boba Tea place has a bunch of people hanging out writing screenplays and it’s in this gentrified area in the Valley. I bought coffee at the Boba Tea place and brought it into the Wake and Bake store and realized they had coffee too. I apologized to the girl working there and she offered to replace my coffee with cannabis coffee.

Did you do it?

No. I had a show to do. I walked through a locked door into their back garden and it was quite a nice show.

I did a weed store in San Jose that was like a prison yard. Folding tables, dominoes and blow torches. People couldn’t remember set-up to punchline. I think they got raided the following week.

Right! Well outdoor rooms are different from playing a really big theatre, which is different from playing a tiny room, which is different from playing to stoned people. When you play a big room, you have wait for the set-up to hit the back and move to the punchline, and when that hits the back, move to the next joke. But with the weed people, the Stoner McGoo’s, you have to slow down the set-up, give them a second, maybe repeat the set-up. . . .and I talk fast. So I think maybe they’ll just “get it” tomorrow? “Hope you had a good time, cuz I’m leaving.”

This is a tangent, but I remember going to marijuana parades in NYC in the 70’s and how radical it was, but now it’s so prevalent. This is personal, but 5 months ago I had a conversion, I just decided that weed wasn’t for me. It spikes my anxiety, gives my body dysmorphia and I feel much better not doing it. I know this must be true for so many people. I know it’s available, and “cool” but it’s not for everybody.

I’ve never been able to smoke it. Oh, I’ve tried, don’t get me wrong. I used to do a bit how you had 7-9 minutes to talk to me and then I would fall asleep and then wake up under a pile of coats at a party. I’ve never been the demographic and physiologically it never took for me. My husband, hilariously, refers to the right-hand lane on the highway as the stoner lane. Because everybody goes super slow. “Just get highway speed!!” Nope, they are very careful and very high.

Comedy-wise there is very little education. The only guy I know that lays it out is Shane Maus.

He’s got it. He’s a Boston guy, but he’s from Wisconsin. I’m from Wisconsin. We have so little.

Comedy gives you such an interesting skill-set, where you’re able to walk into any environment and put on a show.

Mostly because you desperately want to make that 75 bucks. “I was promised $75, but I was told that if I didn’t do at least 30 minutes I wouldn’t be paid.” I never had this experience, but I heard there were clubs in the 80s and 90s, where if you went over they would dock your pay. I did experience where if they would pro-rate you if you went under. Best case scenario you would get “talked to”, worst case scenario they would cut your cash. I did a festival in the last year and this guy was supposed to get off stage and he did another 22 minutes.

That’s rude.

He did it for the time honored reason we all do it, his set wasn’t going well.

And he tried to dig himself out a hole. Especially with festivals, it’s precision oriented. You need to get off the stage on time so it doesn’t throw all the other sets off.

Right. I had another set after that one. I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but he finally got off. It all worked out.

You don’t have to mention any names. Who was it?

Actually, I don’t know his name. He’s the darling of the NYC scene. He’s funny. He has a goomba style, but he’s only like 35. “It was like dis, you know the ladies are like dis,” and that I didn’t like, because it’s not for me. But then his family stuff was very funny.

It’s like if Tony Soprano did stand-up.

More like one of the younger guys. . .

Like, Chris. . .

Like, Chris, yeah. Or Fredo did stand-up.

Would you agree there are more really good stand-ups than ever before?

There’s a boom right now because there are so many more outlets. I get to see more comics and I am blown away every couple of months, I’ll see like four new comics and at least one of them is really funny. The others are plugging along and doing what we’re all doing. For the last 15 I’ve said we are in a golden age of art creation in stand-up comedy. You ever read Watership Down.


There’s a chapter about the rabbits that the farmer kept. The Shining Wires is the name of the chapter. They were the only rabbits that created poetry. I think there’s kind of a captive feel to stand-up right now. We’re creating all this amazing art, but, I’m talking out of my ear now, but all this art is happening because it’s a way to block out the horrors around us. I don’t know if you remember that in that chapter the farmer had snares set up in their warren and they never addressed it. But the rabbits made amazing poetry about their nihilist situation.

What I find more and more is how many shows I do where nobody mentions Trump. We know it’s there, but let’s do more dick jokes.

It looms over us. There are comics that go there and have to deal with the response of the audience. In the case of the shows that I do, it’s a cheering kind of response. “There’s a republican elephant in the room and I’m glad you’re talking about this.” Did you see Ben Gleib’s video?

Not sure.

He had one joke about Trump and it was pretty benign, in passing he referred to how Trump is a bit of a monster and some very drunk woman yelled, “Don’t talk about The Donald.” So obviously, she is a reality TV fan and that’s why she voted for him for office. Ben then did two or three minutes just to get her to shut-up. After his set, some weird dude came up to him and told him he could get a bullet in the back of his head if he kept talking about Trump onstage.

Where was this?

Chicago, Illinois. Not a caricature of where you might think it might have been.

Unless Trump fans are just trolling comedy shows now.

Possibly. Very possibly. I do headline sets all over the place and I also open for Bamford (Maria) so if I do any of my political stuff I always say that I get walked to my car and I’m going to say what I want because this is my 20 minutes. And, “You’ve come to see Maria Bamford, so everything is going to be fine. And if you are a Trump supporter, who talked you into coming to this?”

The day we are doomed is the day the Republicans have a comic that is actually really funny and not just spewing hate.

There’s a great article today on Crack. 5 Awful But Revealing Examples of Conservative Comedy. I never read these things because I don’t think it’s fair when somebody watches your comedy with a pen in their hands. If you look at something critically and try to figure out what makes it tick, you’re not in the mood and enjoying it as much as you could. So these click-bait articles like What Makes Comedy Funny might suck me in, but I rarely finish them. One reason is because they are rarely never funny themselves. Never written by somebody who “get’s it” or is hilarious. But this guy on Crack and his handle seems to be SeanBaby. He talks about the people who claim to be conservative comics have to create a narrative to make a joke. So if you do a joke in support of Roy Moore, you are doing a joke in support of 40-year-old guys who date 15-year-olds. In general you lose most of the audience except for other people who are creepy.

In general, the “left”, us have so many brilliant comedians and the “right” has no sense of humor.

I don’t mean to turn this interview all about this Crack story, but the first line of the article is, “Most people aren’t familiar with conservative comedy because it’s usually indistinguishable from ordinary racism.” I posted it on my fan page and people thought it was mean and snarky.  The catch-phrase of stand-up comedy is “you have to punch up”. You don’t do that because you’re a nice person, you do it because that’s where the funny is. I am not a saint, I want to get laughs. So I don’t make fun of a homeless woman, who is destitute and has one leg. It’s already disaster, why would I go after that?




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Local Comedy Shows

Show Photos

© 2021 StandUpSantaCruz.com