During a particularly trying afternoon of putting together a piece of Ikea furniture, I listened to Jacqueline Novak and Kate Berlant’s podcast POOG and felt enlightened. The joy of hearing two women sharply and hilariously dissect brands of bottled water brought me back to long nights I used to spend (actually face to face) with friends and talk about mundane yet important life issues. For years I’ve turned to Jacqueline Novak as a source of humor and honest reflections of womanhood in her incredible one woman show Get on your Knees, her book “How to Weep in Public” and her always captivating tv appearances. It’s such an honor to have her answer some of our questions and learn a little more about what she’s been up to.
You have successfully traversed two notoriously very difficult career paths – writing and comedy. Can you tell us about your journey into these fields and if this was always something that you thought you would end up doing?
As a kid I wanted to be “an actor and a freelance writer” so I sort of did plan on this. Regarding difficulty, I require a large amount of enthusiasm to overcome low energy and have found that bigger challenges stir me into action more than supposedly manageable tasks do. Whenever a successful artist of any kind refers to their work as their job, or draws metaphors to doctors, I find that a bit much.
I’m thrilled you found it comforting. It just quietly came out on audiobook! I recorded it in my apartment during quarantine. We had to stop when you could hear the neighbor showering. It was challenging revisiting and re-animating the depressed voice. The weird thing with that book being my first piece of work out in the world is that it’s in one sense not my voice. It is my voice through the dense filter of depression. That was essential to me, because I wanted depressed people reading it to feel like they could trust me as a fellow depresso, to keep their company, to be on that vibration with them. A depresso might not let you into their mental space if you’re doing the literary equivalent of barging in, opening up blinds, and yelling for them to cheer up, charlie.
Your show Get on Your Knees was just so hilarious and unique! I love how you spoke about things like your first sexual experiences that we usually go through so privately, in a room full of people. Is performing like this therapeutic for you?
THANK YOU! I always reject the idea of stand-up comedy as being therapeutic to the performer. I think it devalues the art of it. And stand-up probably taxes the psyche as much as it heals it. At the same time, if you can write something for yourself to say that expresses exactly how you feel or what you believe, then shouting it to the heavens nightly has some personal value.
I heard you moved to Los Angeles recently… what motivated this move and how is it treating you?
I love Los Angeles. I grew up on the east coast and its four distinct seasons are too emotionally destabilizing. My body has its ups and downs, I don’t need the weather knocking me on my ass. Because all of my knowledge of los angeles is based on images from television, moving here has felt like stepping into movies or tv of my childhood— that’s fun.
These days I’m loving...
I ordered the Momofuku spice kit and have been putting it in most things. Sensational. Rebel ice cream. An amazing turkey from Uncle Ray’s via goldbelly. I’ve been making casseroles. Trying to recreate the childhood comfort of Stouffers Turkey tetrazzini.
Jumpsuits and sweatsuits at the moment.
I’ve been watching Homicide Hunter on the ID network. In each episode Lieutenant Kenda recounts a murder case he solved during his long Colorado Springs career. The man’s magnetic. There are 9 seasons so as you start it and and inevitably love it, you can relax knowing there’s a massive harvest of episodes to carry you through your days.
Squalane oil is my favorite - I use the Biossance oil multiple times a day. Then I’m into SPF and visors. I’m on a retinol at night, Vitamin C during the day thing. We discuss skin care a lot on my NEW PODCAST with Kate Berlant called POOG so I’ve been upping my vigilance. I keep all skincare by the couch and I do extended regimens while watching tv. Poog is obsessing over wellness products and practices, etc. The exciting recent splurge was the Victoria Beckham/Augustinus Bader Serum via Violet Grey. On the cheaper side, Cosrx Snail Mucin is very satisfying in that it’s texture is different from other products. I’m now looking into snail venom mimicking synthetic peptides. I’m not even that concerned about my skin, but I enjoy experimenting and seeing what happens.
Check out @theantoinettethomas on instagram. Brilliant comic strips.
“Me time” activity
Reading in the tub. I like the noise of when the bathtub is filling up, so I get in right away and let it fill up around me. Do I sound like a douchebag with my answers? Eh, mustn’t worry.