Funny Lady

Comedian delivers humor from the home front


Standup comedian Jen Fulwiler knows where the best material lurks. It’s in those messy moments that, at the time, don’t seem all that funny. It’s in the inconsistent attitudes and judgments of other people. It’s in the places life unexpectedly takes us.

“I’m constantly surprised by my life,” she admits, “every single day.”

In fact, growing up as an only child in a household her mother kept “very organized” and “perfectly clean,” she had her mind set on pursuing a sensible career. Motherhood wasn’t part of the plan.

“But,” she says, “life did not turn out that way.”

She and her husband — also an only child — had six kids in eight years, and no twins. Whatever challenges that posed, it apparently wasn’t enough, because she also decided to homeschool her children.

As one might imagine, Fulwiler’s is a life rich in source material, and her comedy routine clearly draws on that source. In fact, she describes her style as “domestic comedy with a fresh twist.”

Sometimes, that means pointing out the ironies of daily life. Sometimes, it means the collision of very different worlds.

Once, a friend of Fulwiler’s mother — a “really classy friend,” a woman who was no doubt familiar with the orderly household her friend kept and expected her daughter to emulate — paid a visit.

“And my house was just a complete disaster,” Fulwiler admitted.

The visitor seemed surprised when she saw the kids playing with Barbie dolls, probably because the dolls were, shall we say, unencumbered by clothing. The tiny outfits had gotten lost, but that was no reason Barbie shouldn’t go about her business like always.

“It’s Nudist Colony Barbie,” Fulwiler quipped, seeing the woman’s expression. “Those are the only kinds of Barbies we can have in this house, because I cannot keep up with the clothes.”

Sometimes those one-liners set up themselves and simply fall into place, but as most standup artists will tell you, effective comedy is the result of hard work.

“A good comedy set has about two to three laughs per minute,” Fulwiler said. “So, you’ve got to just keep it coming and keep it coming and keep it coming.”

And the lines have to be finely honed if people are going to find them funny.

“You have to be almost surgical with what you’re saying up there,” she said.

The only way to know if a joke is working is to perform it. Fortunately, Fulwiler has abundant opportunities to try out her jokes on live audiences because Austin, Texas, where she lives, has a booming comedy scene with venues aplenty.

She will take her family-friendly routine to bars patronized by young singles, people who are not normally her target audience.

“If I can make them laugh with a clean set, with material that has nothing to do with the lives that they’re living, then it’s going to work really well,” she said.

Something More

W. C. Fields once called comedy serious business, and though he didn’t mean it this way, there is a bit of a serious side to comedy like Fulwiler’s. People sometimes see their daily struggles in her humor and find it helpful to know someone else has been where they are.

“My fans email me all the time, and they tell me what’s going on with them and their struggles, and that is a great motivator to me in my comedy,” Fulwiler said. “Of course, I want to make people laugh. That is the primary purpose of the show. But I do try to provide a little encouragement. You would be amazed at the stories of the people who sit in those theaters.”

She recalled hearing from the parent of two children with severe special needs and the difficulty in finding a babysitter so that mom and dad could go out for an evening. Fulwiler thinks of these people when she writes her material and takes it onstage.

She hopes to encourage parents to say, as they leave the show, “I feel a little better about my life and a little better about returning to the chaos that is my life.”

Road to Comedy

Initially, Fulwiler wanted to be a writer. She started out writing a blog, which generated enough readership to lead to some book deals.

She wrote three books. The first was a memoir on her journey from atheism to finding faith. New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz called “Something Other Than God” “a lovely account of a spiritual journey and a charming memoir.”

The second book was a memoir about writing her first book and launching her career as a writer while being a six-time mom.

“My husband teases me that my second book is a memoir about writing a memoir,” she said. “Who writes a memoir about writing a memoir?”

Her third book is a how-to, but also a kind of “permission slip.”

“So many women, whether they’re mothers or not, feel guilty about pursuing work or hobbies or anything that they simply enjoy and really highlights their talents,” she explained. “So, I also meant for that book to be a ‘permission slip’ for women to really create a life that they’re genuinely excited about.”

Publishing those books opened the doors to Sirius XM radio, where until 2020 she had a daily program, “The Jen Fulwiler Show.”

Finally, it clicked: standup comedy was a kind of synthesis of writing and public performance, as she had practiced on the radio. She produced her first tour herself, booking theaters across the nation armed only with a Google search and her credit card. Her kids helped her out, stepping into the roles normally filled by staff members, which she didn’t have.

Today, Fulwiler continues “The Jen Fulwiler Show” as a podcast available on all podcast apps and on her YouTube channel. While the podcast employs some humor, it does dive into serious life issues.

“Like: What do you do when it feels like your life is falling apart?” Fulwiler said. “I talk about everything, like surprise pregnancies when you’re broke. What are you going to do?”

She described the content of her podcast as things she has learned that she wishes she’d known 10 years ago.

‘Maternal Instinct’

Fulwiler will present her new show, “Maternal Instinct,” Nov. 1 at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall as part of the Florida Theatre “On The Road” series. Showtime is 7 p.m.

“The ‘Maternal Instinct’ set is funny stories and hopefully relatable moments of my life and my husband’s life, just trying to keep it together as modern parents who often do not feel very equipped to be modern parents,” she said.

Though her humor is built upon her own experiences, you don’t have to be a mom — or even a woman — to enjoy her show.

“I work hard to make this show one that is relatable to everyone,” she said. “Everyone takes something away, whether or not they have a life exactly like mine. I’m a big believer that good comedy is good comedy. Period. End of sentence.”

Tickets can be purchased via credit or debit card with valid ID at The St. Augustine Amphitheatre box office, and at

For further information, go to