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First Person

The Experience Questionnaire: Karen Kilgariff

Karen Kilgariff is a comedian, writer, and co-host of the podcast “My Favorite Murder.”

Where do you come up with your best ideas? 
If I exercise in the morning, I get good ideas in the shower afterwards. 

What is the best non-material gift you’ve received?
Well, it exists in material form, but it didn’t cost any money: when my niece Nora was in kindergarten, she made me a drawing of the sun with this huge smile on its face and underneath she wrote, “This is for you. It is a sunny day.” 

What is the best non-material gift you’ve given?
Picking up friends from the airport.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Losing my mom to Alzheimer’s. It’s a really degrading disease and watching her suffer through it was incredibly sad and horrifying and awful. And it went on for 12 years. The good news is, that kind of life-altering shit clears away all the other “challenges” you think you’re facing. 

The proudest I’ve ever been is when someone throws me their keys in front of other people and I catch them. 

If you had to choose a different profession, what would you do?
I would genuinely love to cut people’s hair. 

What is the most useful mistake you’ve made? 
I had to quit drinking when I was 27 because I started having seizures. At the time, it felt like I’d ruined my life. It was so humiliating and shaming. But after a while, I realized it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. My life became much, much easier without booze in the equation.  

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had?
When I was in college, I had a very realistic bad dream about a mother and daughter with braids being chased by a man and hiding on our front porch. When I got up and opened the door to my bedroom, I woke up my roommate who was sleeping on the couch. She gasped and looked scared, then said, “I just had the worst dream.” 

So I said, “Was it about the mother and the daughter with braids hiding on our front porch?” and she totally freaked out and started crying and saying, “How did you know that?” Turns out, we’d had the same bad dream. That house was very haunted. Lots more spooky stuff happened before we moved out.

What opportunity do you regret passing up?
I’m old enough to believe that everything happens for a reason. So like, no regrets, baby.   

How do you relax?
That’s none of your business.

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
To the movies.

What is your most indelible childhood memory?
Being driven to school in my dad’s VW Bug with 5 or 6 other carpool kids, no seatbelts, lots of laughing and yelling. 

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in school?
If you got moderately good grades and kept your mouth shut, you could get away with almost anything.      

When you’re stuck how do you get unstuck?
No idea. I think I just wait it out. But I don’t recommend it.

What is your proudest moment?
This is tough. I’ve had a lot of genuinely amazing moments in my life, but I’d say the proudest I’ve ever been is when someone throws me their keys in front of other people and I catch them. 

What would you like to experience before you die? 
True love. 

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Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

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