Jamie Kilstein: Using Comedy As A Back Door For Vegan Activism

By Published On: 14 May 2013Last Updated: 17 January 2017

Jamie Kilstein, headliner of the Cleveland VegFest After Party, discusses the role that comedy plays in activism.

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Jamie Kilstein: Using Comedy As A Back Door For Vegan Activism

By Amanda Crow, Guest Contributor

For the vegan, vegetarian, and veg-curious folk of Ohio, Saturday, June 1st, will be one of best days of 2013.  Why?  Cleveland VegFest and the Cleveland VegFest After-Party is that day!

We already gave you ten reasons why the Cleveland VegFest is not to be missed. After a day full of wonderful speakers, food, and exhibitors, it will be hard to resist the urge to immediately go home and dream of vegan cake (is that just me?).  Don’t!  Come to the Agora Theater for the official Cleveland VegFest After Party for free food, cash bar, music, and entertainment, with featured comedian Jamie Kilstein.

Recently I had a conversation with Jamie discussing what role comedy plays in veganism.  Often, people do not realize the significance of comedy in a social movement.  Jamie has made a name for himself as seen by the praises of famous comedians/actors, but ranting about serious and depressing issues won’t get you an hour-long special on Showtime or invited back to Conan O’Brien’s show to talk about drones.

Jamie has been a stand-up comedian for over thirteen years and has accomplished what most dream of.  With the help of a self-built podcast platform (Citizen Radio = comedy + politics), he has gained an international, diverse, dedicated following while pushing the boundaries of his material.  As a long time fan of Jamie and Citizen Radio, I have always admired their impact on people of all ages and backgrounds.  The change they inspire is truly noteworthy. Most notably, Jamie shatters the ridiculous notion that vegans aren’t funny.

“Jamie Kilstein is amazing and I will be spreading the word. He has the spark that energized my conscience. We need more comedians kicking it hard the way he does every night.” Robin Williams

“Watching Jamie reminds me of why I got into comedy. It is like watching a combination of George Carlin and Bill Hicks.” – Janeane Garofalo

“Jamie’s unique style of stand up is artfully thoughtful and powerfully funny. His balls are so big that must be where he keeps all the funny!” – Paul Provenza (Creator and Director of The Aristocrats)

It was fascinating to listen to Jamie describe his evolution from using humor to redirect upsetting situations as a child to now, where he uses humor to address veganism, LGBTQ rights, feminism, etc.  The time in between wasn’t always as subversive.  During his process of becoming more political, he asked Dr. Cornel West for advice on improving his writing.  They key wasn’t a time of day or jazz CD as Jamie had hoped; West told him to read voraciously. He heeded his words, and it changed his life as his treasury of knowledge deepened, allowing him to passionately discuss issues.

Jamie believes the best comedy comes from honesty. His life and career embody the significance of comedy in activism.  Jamie knows well the power of making someone laugh.  Laughter is a primal urge, can decimate sadness and tension, and, for many, is a coping tool for dealing with a sometimes awful world.  This is why comedy is a back door tool for activism.  Through the use of laughter, Jamie infiltrates people’s thinking.  He makes them laugh at something they disagree with or something that is serious, and all of the sudden, they are open to discussing alternative ideas.

Don’t miss the Cleveland VegFest all day and the Cleveland VegFest After Party all night on Saturday, June 1st, 2013 and your chance to see Jamie Kilstein live!

Check out Jamie Kilstein’s tour dates if you don’t live in the area, and follow him on Facebook and @JamieKilstein on Twitter.

This post is part of our on-going coverage of the 2013 Cleveland VegFest. Be sure to check out all of our coverage to keep up on the latest news!

Photo credit: matthewfilipowicz

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HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…