Sketchfest Q&As Pt 1: Jamie Kilstein

Categories: Comedy
jamie small.jpg

Their backgrounds are as different as their comedy styles, but Jamie Kilstein and Reggie Watts should give dynamic, thought-provoking, and hilarious performances this week when they hit the Punch Line with Mary Van Note as part of Sketchfest. Kilstein is a subversive political comic who addresses social issues with insight, depth, and sharp comedic timing. Watts is a musical comedian who matches humor and beat boxing for a show unlike anything you've seen.

SF Weekly was lucky enough to snag Kilstein and Watts for a Q & A session before their shows (tonight at 8 p.m., and Friday at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.). Below is Part 1 of the Q&A, with Kilstein, who was Punchline Magazine's "One Comic To Watch in 2009." He has appeared on Comedy Central and MTV, and he's the producer and co-host of the popular political podcast "Citizen Radio."

When did you get your start?
I moved from New Jersey to New York when I was 17, because I thought that is where you get your big break. I got trampled on. As a starting comedian in NY, the comedy clubs make you do these awful things for stage time. I would have to - for no money - hand out fliers on the street in the rain, snow, whatever, for like five hours just to get a chance at five minutes of stage time. I did that for a couple of years. I worked at a bookstore during the day with my girlfriend. She was a writer. We just wanted to be artists.

[My girlfriend and I] decided we could Kerouac it around the states. The goal was to drive around until we got good and discovered and we refused to get jobs again. It was great. We decided we wouldn't move back to NY until we could pay for it by writing and being comedians, with our art. We moved back to NY four years ago.

How do you describe your act?
100% political. I started getting political when I was a road comic. Once [my girlfriend and I] went on the road and we started actually talking to people, it affected both of us. We became very political, because we'd become friends with a gay kid who would ask us, "What am I going to do when I grow up and I want to get married?" We would meet people who had family members in the war. Almost everybody we met on the road didn't have health insurance. Being on the road just made it more real. Once we started meeting people that were directly effected by these issues, we were like this matters - and we should really be talking about it.

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