Q&A: 'Dork Forest' comedian Jackie Kashian

Podcaster, comic, and writer of erotic fan fiction will be showcasing all of her talents this weekend at Hawthorne Theater.

By John Chandler July 11, 2013

Los Angeles comedian Jackie Kashian (recently featured on the Conan O'Brien show) is a true road warrior, logging about 25 weeks a year at comedy clubs near and far. Even so, she's got a busy weekend ahead of her with two shows on Saturday night at Hawthorne Theater followed by an appearance as a competitor (also at Hawthorne Theater) at the Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction contest Sunday night. Kashian was kind enough to take my phone call and talk about her weekly podcast Dork Forest, her admiration for Portland's comedy scene, and her own TV ambitions.

Culturephile: Wow! Three shows in two nights. You've got a live taping of a Dork Forest podcast with Carrie Brownstein, then a standup set, and the next night you have to put your erotic fan fiction up against the best weirdos Portland has to offer. That's a lot of work! Are they going to have you bus tables and spray for bugs, too?

Kashian: Yeah, maybe. I was also asked to be on two local podcasts, one of which involves me eating a habañero. I'm going to be in town for 50 hours, I don't think there's going to be time for medical attention! I'd need at least three hours to recover.

On this podcast guests are required to eat a hot pepper?

Yes, it's called 'Spicy Interviews.' The guy told me "It's dumb and hilarious and we'd love to have you." I said, "Yes it sounds dumb and hilarious but I cannot be a part of it at this time."

For those unfamiliar with your podcast can you give us the rundown on Dork Forest?

Sure. It's essentailly dork on dork dialogue. I am a chameleon dork and I'm fascinated by the things people love. It's an hour-long interview show with people about the things they obsess over and love. It could be bees. It could be comic books. It could be perfume. It could be Elvis. The next one is about the DC comic book hero Green Lantern. And then there's going to be one about Elvis. And the one after that is about psycho geography.

I'm sorry, what?

You blindfold someone, take them into the woods, and create a frustrating geographic situation for them and see how it affects them psychologically.

Oh, a snipehunt.

Yeah! But everyone's a consenting adult, and no one is armed with a bag. And you can't bring a map and you can't access a map with your phone.

OK, that's a new one.Jackie Kashian
Sat at 7 & 10
Hawthorne Theater

That's the greatest thing about Dork Forest, there's always some new form of Dorkdom to discover. The show is one hour and my favorite episodes are the ones where I start asking guests questions about where they're from and stuff, and they're like "You said I could talk about Rose Kennedy for an hour!"

Do you like performing in Portland? Have we improved our stature as a comic-friendly city?

I love Portland as much as the next guy, as long as the next guy isn't from Portland. 'Cause you guys are crazy. I think Helium Comedy Club and Bridgetown Comedy Festival have done amazing work to bring a lot of credibility to Portland. Everyone always said that Portland audiences are amazing! They "get" everything and they want to go on whatever weird journey you're willing to go on. So where's the comedy? I think Portland's always had the potential to have comedy nerds there, a thriving comedy nerd community. But it needed a business person to encourage that and to figure out how to make money doing it. And with Helium you have the best of both worlds.

And at a lot of clubs, I've noticed comedians on the bill where there used to be like, opening bands. Maybe comedians are more economical because instead of a whole band, it's just one person who gets the money.

Yeah, and you also get your own hotel room. It's one of the few perks. It might be a La Quinta or a Super 8, with blood on the walls and cigarette holes in the bedspread, but it's all yours.

Can you tell me what you and Carrie Brownstein will be discussing at Dork Forest?

You know it's funny, because I emailed her a list of all the topics we've done, and I haven't heard back from her. But I also added that I'm perfectly willing to dork out about her. About Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia, her new band (Wild Flag). I told her we can do this two ways: I can dork out with you, about you, or you can tell me about your … secret Japanese sneaker collection or whatever. I did a Dork Forest last year in Portland with Chelsea Cain, who was hilarious.

Yeah, the serial killer writer.

Yes, I told her "You have all these terrifying books about a serial killer—and I will not be reading them because they're terrifying." But it turns out she's a big Dungeons & Dragons nerd.

Now that is terrifying. The game that dare not speak it's name. But getting back to Carrie Brownstein …

I'm hoping she has some super obsession with a certain kind of guitar strings, or something.

And you could always try to angle a guest spot on Portlandia.

I'm always willing to work.

Speaking of which, have you got your erotic fan fiction ready to go?

Yes I do. I am going to competitively fan-fic erotically. But I don't think I'm supposed to tell you my subject. There's two different rounds to the show and I'm doing the one where we have our fan-fic already written. There's also going to be topics from the audience, and competitors have a half-hour to come up with something. The last time I competed, I won with a mashup of J. Peterman catalog descriptions. … I thought about doing Wuthering Heights fan fiction, because I always wanted those two to date, instead of just living their horrible lives to get revenge. But I tried to reread it and it made me sad. It was like trying to watch Schindler's List on a Sunday afternoon.

Do you harbor any desire to do an autobiographical TV show like Louis CK or Marc Maron?

Yes! Yes I do! I'm willing to do anything. If they want an autobiographical show about me I'll open a vein about anything, whether it's my mediocre childhood or my hilarious adulthood. Actually, I wanted to do an action movie with me and Wanda Sykes where we play a couple of employees at Target. And at the end, we foil a bunch of bank robbers by using our Home Alone-like skills with whatever items are laying around at Target. Want to hear some more pitches?

Any advice for someone who's watched a lot of standup comedy but been too chicken to do it?

Yeah. Just do it. Stop talking about it. Look, at first you're only going to get three minutes anyway. All you need are like three ideas that you think are funny. So just get up and say them. And you'll know right away if this is something you really want to do.

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