Jena Friedman Is Proud to Be an ‘American C*nt’
If you’re one of those people who can’t find the humor in a good old-fashioned abortion joke, then Jena Friedman’s comedy is not for you, and honestly, it’s your loss.
Friedman, who’s worked for The Daily Show and David Letterman, has a brand of comedy that could be described as “dark,” “feminist,” and “blunt,” which is exactly what you would expect from a comedian who named her her first comedy special, which just came out on Seeso yesterday, American Cunt.
Basically, she’s your new favorite comedian.
I talked to Jena about how abortion jokes are like snowflakes, why she doesn’t talk about her personal life onstage, and the very credible source she knows who swears that Donald Trump doesn’t have a penis.
What are five things you can think of off the top of your head that are scarier than ghosts?
Oh um, climate change, what’s going on with Syria, Russia threatening us with nuclear war if Trump doesn’t win, Zika, and just New York City being like a death trap. The building across the street from my building exploded, there’s always something going on here. Terrorism.
Ghosts aren’t scary. I think ghosts are like, just to go on a little tangent, I do feel like people who see ghosts is like a peanut allergy, only some people have that ability. I don’t think they’re scary.
I had a feeling that you were gonna bring up Trump. So last week I heard my roommate have a very long conversation to try and convince her aunt not to vote for Donald Trump and believe it or not, it didn’t go very well. Do you have any tips for liberals who want to try and make their conservative family members realize that voting for Trump is a bad idea?
I think maybe we need to just drug them for the day or kidnap them or tell them to vote on November 9th. I’m not kidding.
I have a distant relative, he’s actually an uncle, but I call him a distant relative because this election has made me so mad at him. He’s not necessarily voting for Trump but he’s not automatically voting for Hilary. I haven’t checked in with him for the past month but he lives in a swing state and it was so infuriating talking to him over the summer. Things, I think, have changed for him because its become so ridiculous at this point, but to me its always been ridiculous and frustrating to get people to not elect a racist rapist with no experience, but you know, this election is a culture war [and] not really about logic at this point.
What’s something that you think everyone’s ignored in this election that’s really pissed you off.
It’s changing because there are so many think pieces, and if you go on Twitter in our little media bubble everyone’s dissecting everything, so I don’t think people have ignored it, and I am guilty of this too, but I want to say that we need to reach across the aisle to understand people who are voting for him. I think we’re dissecting everything, but maybe we’re just chewing the weeds, I don’t know, it’s just a weird schizophrenic election. I don’t think that schizophrenic is the right word, its definitely not the right word.
I get what you mean though, its crazy.
Yeah, it’s crazy.
Here’s one thing, and I don’t think people are ignoring it, but the effect that its having on me as a woman in my 30’s, like I’m like I’m not even kidding, the other night I just started cutting my hair. It doesn’t look bad, it looks cool, but like, I never have cut my own hair. I went through all middle school and high school without like a really angsty face and I’m like, is this election making me feel like I’m like a product of divorce?
And if that’s what it’s doing to me, then think about what it’s doing to not just women in your 20’s, but teens and children. Hillary mentioned it, but I honestly think that this election is really confusing them a lot because [Trump] is the antithesis of everything they are taught to be. So, uh, we’ll see how it comes out, but that’s really something we aren’t paying enough attention to, just the Trump effect on kids and teens and adolescents.
If you could some how make a deal with the devil, where all you had to do to make trump not become president would be to fuck him would you?
Would I fuck Trump? A very credible source told me that Trump doesn’t even have a penis, so you can quote me on that.
Well lets talk about your new comedy special, American Cunt, which is a great title that I’m sure nobody has ever or will ever get offended by. Why did you decide to call it that?
I first did a version of the show in the UK, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it was a play on the word cunt, which in the UK is a very innocuous word. People kind of throw it around endearingly, but [in the US] it’s such a harsh word.
It was like, if you call the show “American Cunt” then you’re self selecting your audience. You’re getting people who aren’t going to be offended so you can kind of say what you want. Its not like you’ll have to be on eggshells in the show.
Is there anything you think is off limits in your own comedy?
Um, I don’t think so.
I kind of don’t talk about my personal life on stage, just because it started off as a thing I didn’t want to do as like an active protest. I do think that women in their 20’s coming up in comedy are encouraged to talk about sex because, you’re at an open mic or you’re at a show. I remember going up on stage and they would say my name and the whole front row would get up to go and just get beer unless you talk about sex.
Its true, like people, men particularly, will listen because everyone kind wants to be a fly on the wall of like a 20-something sex life, so that’s what you’re encouraged to talk about.
But in terms of like taboo subjects, I don’t think so. I think if you can find a way to say something responsibly you can talk about anything, and it’s obviously a really ambiguous word “responsibly,” but I don’t think anything is off limits or should be off limits because the things that we tend to shy away tend to be what we need to talk about.
What’s it like when people who aren’t in comedy try and critique what you do?
It doesn’t bother me, like I have a hyper-critical Jewish mother so it just makes me feel totally at home.
How tired are you of the women in comedy conversation?
I’m not tired of it! I know everybody else is but unfortunately it’s something that we need to talk about.
I think its important to talk about inequality or to talk about gender, race, all sorts of things because when we don’t talk about it, it kind of recedes from our consciousness.
Do you have a favorite abortion joke?
I like the most the ones that are less than three months gestation, they’re my favorite. It’s so hard to choose. Every abortion joke is its own snowflake.