One of our least favorite beginnings to a comedic premise is “Back in my day…” An overwhelming majority of the time, the sentiment is followed by older generations reminiscing in the glory of their hardships or the simplicity of their younger years. Jeff Foxworthy’s latest special The Good Old Days functions almost entirely on that singular well-worn, dull theme to the point where “…in the good ol’ days…” becomes the latest crutch of a catchphrase, a follow-up to “You might be a redneck if…”
Jen Kirkman embarks down a somewhat parallel path in her latest and last(?) album OK, Gen-X, but then veers off to explore the transition between generations with less focus on value judgments and more on how there are always people trying their very best no matter what time they’re born into. There is so much truly beautiful vulnerability on this album, which may be in part as it’s supposed to be Jen’s valediction from comedy. Examining the finer points of how different of a world she lives in now than when she grew up and, often times, being pro-millennial or Gen-Z is refreshing take, both for its affirmation and how rare it is in comedy.
If we’re to go by generational stereotypes, Gen-X often gets pegged for being endless cynical and sarcastic and this hour is almost a love letter from Gen-X to young people all while weaving a charmingly loose Jen still at the height of her comedy powers. It’s only March and this is undeniably one of the best hours of comedy that’ll come out this year.
Also, Jen sticks it so well to Louis CK by telling her story in full as an amazing parting salvo and gives a stiff reminder (full of great punchlines) how far we still have to go for parity between women and men in comedy (and the world in general). We can only hope that Jen is pulling a Hannah Gadsby and just saying that’s she quitting only to change her mind in a few months or a year or two.
In the meantime, have a really swell time listening to one of the best of our time, Jen Kirkman, and what will be her final comedy record for now, OK, Gen-X, available now wherever you get your comedy albums.