Interviewing Jamie Kilstein isn’t exactly a walk in the park. First, he tends to be quite sweary, emitting a torrent of unprintable words in a monologue so rapid-fire that you worry he’ll asphyxiate. Then there’s his preferred subject matter: poverty, reproductive rights, Noam Chomsky.
“I’m the least funny person in interviews,” says the New York-based political comedian, who’s taking his manic, indignant standup routine to the U.K. this month. “I’ll be going on about the war in Iraq and then I’ll remember, Oh, right, I’m plugging a comedy show.”
Kilstein allows that being a die-hard lefty isn’t necessarily the best starting point for a comedy act. “It’s hard enough to make people laugh,” he says. “If you want to make them laugh while convincing them we shouldn’t be bombing civilians, the material had better be funny.”
There is one advantage to Kilstein’s political slant: He’s gotten a ton of publicity sparring with Glenn Beck, Jonah Goldberg and other right-wing pundits. But even this has a potential downside. “At first I was nervous,” he says. “I thought I’d get all this crazy online harassment. It ended up being 15 confused old people on Twitter who didn’t really know how to use it. You could almost hear them—’How do I hang this thing up?’”
For tour dates, go to jamiekilstein.com.