Episode 399: Kelli Dunham


At 19, Kelli Dunham was living in Haiti in the midst of a Civil War. From there, it was a fairly straightforward path to becoming a nun — albeit one that also required a conversion to Catholicism. These days, Dunham lives in New York City as a genderqueer nurse and standup comedian. It’s a natural combination for an artists who happily draws the line between comedy and tragedy, drawing on material from her own life for both. Experience as a hospice nurse and the death of two partners who died of cancer have left her uniquely positioned to grapple with the darkest subject matter in her comedy routines. What’s more, she manages it all with an unwavering sense of positivity, no better exemplified than in the track “Deep Biological Optimism” from her new standup album, Not the Gym Teacher.

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