laurie kilmartin
Laurie is an Emmy-nominated writer for CONAN on TBS, and a stand-up comedian. Laurie Kilmartin has been doing standup since 1987 and has appeared on CONAN, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Comedy Central. Her Seeso special “45 Jokes About My Dead Dad” made Vulture’s list of Top Ten Comedy Specials of 2016. She’s written two books, Shitty Mom (a NY Times bestseller) and her recent release Dead People Suck.  Laurie Kilmartin is currently a writer for CONAN on TBS, and previously wrote for Tough Crowd w/Colin Quinn (Comedy Central) and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS). She has appeared the Montreal Comedy Festival as a New Face and, 12 years later, as a Master.  Please enjoy my interview with Laurie Kilmartin.

How do you describe your occupation?

I just say I’m a standup comedian- everything comes from there, for me.

heart berriesTalk us through a typical day for you…

I write monologue jokes for CONAN on TBS. I get in around 9:30, and write premises til 10. From 10-11:30 I write jokes for the monologue. At 12, I read the jokes with the other monologue writers. 1-2:15 write more jokes. 2:15-2:45ish, we meet with Conan. 3-4 write more jokes. 4-4:30- finalize monologue. 4:30-5:30 the show tapes. 5:30-7 prep for the next day’s show. From 7pm onwards – standup set.

What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?

I just finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I didn’t like it, but I kept thinking it would turn around for me. It moved REALLY slowly. Then I watched the movie and had the same result. It was not my style, I guess. I just started Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot.

Can you remember the first book you read by yourself?

I can’t remember which one, but it was definitely a Nancy Drew.

Are you a page folder or a bookmarker?

Page folder, forever.

If you could gift yourself books at age 16 and age 25 – what would they be and why?

For 16, I think I’d give myself The Secret Scriptures by Sebastian Barry. I’m not sure my 16 year old self would appreciate it, but I’d like her to know that life can be very long, and this too shall pass. For 25, perhaps Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I found that book way too late.

When did you fall in love with making people laugh?

In 4th grade, when I read a story that I’d written out loud. I got a laugh from a girl named Jackie Snyder – she was always mean to me. She stayed mean to me, but I felt since like I’d gotten her to laugh, I won.

If you could invite 5 authors (dead or alive) to a dinner party – who would they be and why?

Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, JK Rowling, Zadie Smith and Edna O’Brien. I love a group of women, especially when they don’t have to be careful around men.

What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?

The aforementioned Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot. It was recommended on a Twitter feed about Native female writers.

What is your favourite thing about reading?

Silence. Nobody is talking to me or asking me to retrieve something. I’m allowed to escape.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?

I just re-read Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls with my son, I loved it again.

If you could insert yourself into any book, which would you pick and why?

I would insert myself into Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and sneak into Hailsham and tell all the kids to run.

Who would you say your three biggest comedic influences are?

Conan O’Brien, Colin Quinn and this weird comedy duo from the 90s in San Francisco called Lank and Earl.

feeding the hungry heartWhat is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?

I think Geneen Roth’s book about compulsive eating, Feeding the Hungry Heart. She explained me to myself, it was such a relief. I read it in my early 20s and it changed how I ate and felt about food and my body.

What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring comedian?

Get up onstage almost every night for 10 years. It really takes that long to be any good. And start in a medium size town, like Austin, Minneapolis, Chicago. Save LA or NYC for when you’re good.

Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?

I just finished listening to I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. IT IS SO GOOD.

Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I read the excerpt in the New Yorker and I didn’t sleep for 2 days. It’s about a serial killer who was murdering in my neighbourhood, when I was a kid. I had no idea this was happening at the time.
If you’d like to learn more about Laurie Kilmartin, you can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.
Image credit: Mindy Tucker