Jamie Kilstein's list of fans is pretty impressive. Janeane Garafolo, Paul Provenza, Brian Eno, Noam Chomsky... Yes, you read that right. Noam Chomsky.
Chomsky called Citizen Radio, the political talk show Jamie hosts with Allison Kilkenny,
"An important political radio show that balances humor and unreported news. At a time when media conglomerates dominate the airwaves, independent media like Citizen Radio is vital to national discourse."
Not bad, considering Chomsky is one of the greatest political minds of our generation.
In addition to constantly touring the globe, Jamie’s been seen on Comedy Central, the BBC, and GritTV. He’s also a contributor to a little newspaper called the Onion.
I recently sat down with Jamie, via email, to ask him a few questions about his stand-up, his radio show, and his upcoming gig tomorrow, January 21, at the Lakeshore Theater in Chicago.
MATT: So, in addition to doing stand-up, you also co-host Citizen Radio. How'd you get started with that?
JAMIE: We started it because there were political topics that I couldn't really talk about on stage. I mean, I talk about them but I could not go into as much detail as I would like. It's hard enough what I do with out being like "So the military industrial complex teamed with private mercenaries are really perpetrating a myth of security while murdering innocent Muslims and escalating the conflicts, all the while using it as an excuse for the government to take away our civil liberties AM I RIGHT FELLAS?!
We started it really on the cheap. We did it from our cellphones in our studio apartment in Queens. We couldn't even be in the same room with each other because of feedback. It was so insane. Somehow the show got a really big following, though, cause we weren't talking down to people. I had lunch yesterday with Ralph Nader’s running mate, Matt Gonzalez, and finally confessed to him that when we had him and Ralph on the show, claiming to be professional, I was pacing around in my kitchen on my cell phone while doing it, occasionally running into the bedroom to give Allison the thumbs up.
Then we had a meeting with CNN and Breakthru Radio, an online station that plays free indie music, on the same day. CNN was such a fucking nightmare that we decided to make less money but stay closer to our roots so that's where we are now. I think I'll tell the CNN story this week on stage.
MATT: Was it an easy transition from stand-up to radio?
JAMIE: In terms of the transition, it is all improv. So it was really a new muscle for me but I think once I got used to it, they both started to compliment each other. So I'm really excited about that. The show is at wearecitizenradio.com.
MATT: Who've been your favorite interviews, so far?
JAMIE: Howard Zinn, by far. He invited Allison and I to his house, which was fucking nuts. I mean A Peoples History Of The United States has changed countless lives. This guy is a fucking hero. His home looks exactly how you would picture it. Old tucked away modest wrap around porch. It was like going to visit your grandfather. The second we walked in he offered us juice. It was fucking adorable. So we sit down with him and he is 6 inches away talking about the war, talking about history, making fun of himself. The dude had has laughing more then most comics. Just a genuine fucking hero.
MATT: You're well known for doing political standup. What topics can audiences expect in your Lakeshore show?
JAMIE: Old, out dated George Bush jokes. I'm kidding. I don't mention his name.
Without giving too much away, it's very political but I'm trying some new sorta risky things that so far have been getting the best reaction I think I have ever received.
MATT: The Democrats are in power... shit's as fucked up as ever. Go. (I know this isn't technically a question...)
JAMIE: Ha. I think it's disgusting that liberals are not willing to criticize their own team when they are in power. We are supposed to be the party of reason and of inquiry. I go after them hard.
MATT: Your latest CD, Zombie Jesus was actually recorded at the Lakeshore. Why’d you choose to record it here in Chicago?
JAMIE: Lakeshore is the only venue I would have done it at. No fucking drink minimum. No puppets. It's about comedy, not joke stealing hacks who want another shit balled sitcom. If you are reading this and you think I sound like a preachy cunt then go see someone else, some other time at Lakeshore. It's one of the only places that's going to save and keep comedy alive and we need to support it.
Matthew Filipowicz is a comedian, cartoonist and satirist whose work can be found at http://matthewf.net.