Picture it: a flurry of activity, surrounding a single chair- hair, makeup, calming voices and heartfelt reassurances. At the center of it? Comedian Jackie Kashian, who even after four (and a half, if you ask her) albums, still insists she is not the hero of her story. In fact, her latest album is titled exactly that. Her solution (and one of the best jokes on the new album)? “I Need A Team.” As we chatted about the new hour, how she developed it, and how it’s been received so far, we also take some time to assemble her dream team.
I Am Not the Hero Of This Story is an album that dives into Kashian’s personal interests, relationship with her husband, and her family life growing up. Put another way by women who saw the hour on a “nerd cruise” recently, the material comes across as “a resumé for how to be her friend!” Given her eleven years as the host of The Dork Forest podcast, this characterization makes sense. “I love nerds, I love dorks, I love geeks!” Another surprising topic, that has garnered equally surprising attention? Armenian genocide. It comes up – oddly hilariously – over the course of the album, and has gotten Kashian attention from media outlets wanting to interview her about the shrouded events of 1915-1917, which her grandmother survived. “There’s a movie coming out about it, with Christian Bale,” and so she may gain some additional attention for that! But ultimately, this latest album was about taking the time to record and share an album that resonated with people, one that is “as great as I can make it.”
I Am Not The Hero Of This Story was recorded, as her other albums have been, at Acme Comedy in Minneapolis, MN. Jackie loves the atmosphere of Acme, noting that the audiences there know comedy well and are willing to go with you, even if the material is a little risky or uncomfortable. That came in handy as she recorded this new hour, featuring some new, but essential material – as it was recorded six weeks after the election. “I don’t do political material, but I do now I guess, because I’m human!”, she says as the set opens, and thus begins a relatively new ten minutes of material that didn’t get the road testing that the remainder of the special did. But the audience stays with her, and for that, they and Acme have earned the role of the team’s home.
On Hero, Kashian shares a number of jokes about her family and admits that several of her siblings have guaranteed spots in the lineup. Her team needs someone who will get her out of her own head; that’s her sister Darla. Someone to give her emotional support when she needs to be lifted up? That’s her brother Phil. And her brother Russ also gets a spot, for being a good blend of Darla and Phil’s personalities. But Darla gets the edge in this bracket for having the same sized feet, thus doubling the shoe options for any given trip.
“Moccasins,” a bit on the album chronicling one of her favorite Christmas gifts, gives a bit of insight into one of her other team members- Legolas from The Lord of the Rings. Those moccasins came with a bow and arrow (“I got a Hunger Games kit for Christmas!”), and she figures it’s only wise to carry such items to the grocery store if well trained. Going to Legolas for training feels like “going to the top,” so he earns a coveted spot in the lineup.
Lest you worry that Legolas gets this space at the expense of Jennifer Lawrence- worry not, she makes the team too, as the person who Kashian would want to play her in a film about her life. And to get her into Jennifer Lawrence-level shape? Her dream trainer, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson makes the cut. “He’d be so supportive!”, she insists.
I also asked Kashian who the funniest person in her life is, and if she’d want that person to join the team as well. Her answer? Maria Bamford. She calls her humor “inclusive, and yet brutally funny,” and loves that so often you don’t see the joke coming. She has served as a motivational force many a time, something all teams need.
Only with a team this strong could Kashian have stayed on the comedy scene this long, continuing to tour successfully and record albums that entertain audiences all across the country. Her highlight since this album’s release? Being on the iTunes and Amazon best-seller lists for the first time. She recognizes that people “famouser” than her have also earned this honor, but it’s new for her and she’s proud of it. “My humility manifests itself in other ways, so [for this] it’s gonna be ‘Hooray!’” Not bad for someone who insists she isn’t the hero!
In addition to the new album and The Dork Forest podcast, check out Jackie alongside Laurie Kilmartin on The Jackie and Laurie Show, part of the Nerdist Podcast Network.