Comedian Jen Kirkman is back with her annual Dysfunctional Xmas Show! But this year things are looking a little different. The production, which usually takes place in Los Angeles, will now be streaming right from Jen’s living room, due to the global pandemic. Audience members will have a 48-hour window, starting December 4th, to join in on the holiday fun, including comedy, stories, sketch, music, and surprise guests! We had a chance to catch up with Jen to get the latest scoop on her long-running holiday show.
Tell us a little about the 9th Annual Jen Kirkman Dysfunctional Xmas Show, and what viewers can expect.
It’s hosted by me, but it’s not an hour of my stand-up. It’s a true variety show with other (surprise guest) comedians who will be joining me to tell stories, be in stupid sketches I wrote (like a big spoof of a Hallmark movie – this year it will be about Lori Loughlin being in jail), there will be music, and both merriment and mayhem. I love the Christmas season, but I know it can bring up complicated feelings for people, and that’s why I’ve told my special guests to come equipped to tell stories about dysfunctional things – so that we can all laugh through our pain. And what’s more dysfunctional than a global pandemic keeping us all from doing the show live?
What was your original inspiration behind producing a dysfunctional Xmas show?
December is a tough month to travel on the road as a comedian. You can run into weather snafus that will cancel a gig, not to mention the fact that I already travel in December (not this year) to see family and so I wanted to do a show that I could do in Los Angeles where I live. And I figured – why not make it a Christmas show? I love Christmas. It’s a great special event and I always bill it as the one Christmas party you actually want to go to this year. Even though it’s a show, not a party – which is better than a party because you won’t be trapped in a corner talking to your husband’s weird boss. You just sit and laugh! I also wanted a break from traditional stand-up. By the end of the year, I’m usually sick of hearing my own act and it is fun to break from my own tradition and do other things.
This show has been successfully running for 9 years now, how has it evolved over the years?
It truly hasn’t evolved! I think that’s a good thing. The one thing this show is about is tradition. I always start the show by singing along to the Elvis song, “Santa Claus is Back in Town” while standing on a piano and throwing candy at the audience. Sadly, this year it will evolve past that because of, have I mentioned there is a global pandemic preventing us all from doing anything? Yeah, so this year it’s devolved into being online. I’ll be doing the show from my living room, in front of my Christmas tree. No standing on a piano. And I won’t be throwing candy. But people are free to buy their own candy and throw it at themselves at home!
This year is extra dysfunctional with everything happening remotely. How have you adapted your show? What has the production process been like?
Well, besides the throwing candy at people and having a sing-along at the end, the heart of the show remains the same so only truly technical stuff has to be adapted – like working with a company like On Location Live to run the show for me. The production process is the usual. I procrastinate writing the sketches, but I’ve already picked out my outfit. I always wear a fabulous garland of tinsel like a feather boa. I got some at CVS today. (Yes, I wore two masks while shopping.) Otherwise, nothing will be too different. One thing that’s awesome is that the audience can buy a ticket and watch it whenever they want, so if they’re busy at 6pm/9pm on Friday December 4th, they can tune in any time within 48 hours of the show to catch it!
Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?
Yes. It’s going to see my family at Christmas – in Massachusetts. It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me if I’m not in the snow or sitting in front of the fireplace. I won’t be doing that this year. I joke that while visiting family usually makes me homicidal, I don’t want to actually kill my family, so I won’t be getting on a cross country flight to see them during a pandemic. My second favorite Christmas tradition is decorating for Christmas on Halloween and watching made-for-TV Christmas movies. That tradition is already going strong.
Finally, in your opinion what is the key to surviving a dysfunctional holiday celebration?
This year – just SURVIVE by not gathering indoors in groups unless you already live with them. But in general, I think the new way to survive a dysfunctional holiday celebration is to pull out your phone and record your family members who are driving you crazy, put it on Tik-Tok, and then get famous and all of your problems will be solved.
Follow Jen and check out The Dysfunctional Xmas Show on December 4th at 9 pm!
Image: Nick Larson