A year ago this week, I was trying to convince Kyle Kinane to submit to some spontaneous video interviewing during the TBS Just For Laughs Chicago comedy festival. Perhaps I should have asked him to go to Wendy's with me instead?
Because last night, Kinane was on Conan talking about the perils of taking a taxi to a Wendy's (fun fact related reading? Judge John Hodgman's podcast episode on the matter of taking a taxi through a fast-food drive-through), and how he doesn't exactly have life by the balls. So to speak. Roll the clip! And make sure to hang in for the final moments when Conan O'Brien congratulates Kinane on his set.
Comedian/actor T.J. Miller came back to Chicago this week and brought some of his Windy City comedy friends back with him for a stand-up show billed as "Drinking Buddies," and the buddies certainly believed the drinking part was mandatory for the evening, in back-to-back shows that went well into Wednesday night at the Lincoln Lodge.
Host James Fritz complained early on that the Lincoln Lodge and JFL hadn't gotten with the program. "All they have for us backstage is water!" Fritz made do with the cash bar.
Mike Bridenstine (pictured) opened by commenting on Fritz and the fellow Chicago comedy scene and how gross they are. As for his drinking story, Brido shared that he had gotten drunk as a sixth-grader when his eighth-grade sister held a houseparty when their parents were away. "Aw, hell, no!" On a more sobering note, he also has written a great TV ad for a karate place that could join the pantheon of infamous local TV ads, whether in Chicago or anywhere.
Kyle Kinane was ready for "Showtime!" "I buy my beer in 12-packs so I'm not such a boozebag," Kinane claimed. "I like to get my exercise, so when I'm done, I can walk back and get more." He joked with the crowd about being so drunk, that he has pretended to take a cell phone call to mask his puking. But he's not built for drinking, apparently. "I'm not good at it," he joked. "But I keep coming back, because I think one of these nights, I'm going to figure it out. I'm like Rudy!"
Headliner Miller joked that his buddies may have taken the show's title a bit too literally by getting drunk before the show, although as he noted, with beer mugs as large as the ones the Lincoln Lodge sells, it's not that difficult. He said those mugs are big enough to expose your loneliness to the world. "Do you have another one that I can get into?" he asked. Miller also shared stories about filming the upcoming Yogi Bear movie, which he said is coming out in 3-D and features a song by Justin Timberlake. That prompted a reply from a female audience member in the back of the room. Only the Lincoln Lodge isn't that large. "Yes, ma'am, I am serious, and I can hear you when you say, 'Are you serious?'" Miller responded.
Remember how I said just the other day that Kyle Kinane's new stand-up comedy recording, Death of the Party, is funny and that you should buy it? Here's another bit from the record, now animated, of Kinane talking about how people and bunnies brightened one of his days. Note: Includes some profanities and NSFW content. Roll it!
I remember when I first met Kyle Kinane three years ago at the HBO festival in Aspen. Kinane wasn't so happy about how he had performed at his stand-up showcases, but all I could see was a young man with creative flourish and colorful punchlines. I liked this guy from the get-go.
Kinane, based in Los Angeles but a product of the Chicago/Blerds scene, reappeared on my radar not too long after that, showing up looking like a lumberjack on Last Call with Carson Daly. And now Kinane has released a wonderful new comedy CD, Death of the Party. It could be the funniest thing I've heard in a while. I'm not the only one who has noticed Kinane -- Patton Oswalt, who had Kinane opening up for him on the road, said on the Comedy and Everything Else podcast: "This guy Kyle Kinane that I have open up for me. He’s gotten so good now (laughs) that I don’t really know if I want him opening up. He’s getting hard to follow — but in a way that’s good because it makes me work harder."
When I saw him co-headline an evening at Comix here in NYC last week, I was blown away by how sharp he is for a younger comedian. He reminded me of a younger, slightly less dangerous and thereby more accessible version of Doug Stanhope. Combined with a younger, slightly less cynical Marc Maron. Mixed liberally. The way Kinane is able to observe the human condition, whether it be his own or ours, and through self-deprecation, wit and that same creative and colorful flourish I'd seen in 2007, produce laugh after laugh. At one point last week, Kinane told the audience: "It's like I'm living in a vacuum where I've got all these genius ideas that nobody can appreciate." Well, somebody should start appreciating him soon. It's not all mining dark coals of life for diamonds. Kinane also can draw out an amusing story, whether it's a menu flyer that appeared at his door out of nowhere, or the night he had to use the bathroom in a dangerous bar (track 3 on the record, "The House is Rocking"). As he says on that track, this isn't just a story about toilet humor. "It's about the triumph of the human spirit." Spend a little time with Kinane and experience the triumph together.
Here's a clip of Kinane, telling a variation on the opening track from Death of the Party.
Buy this disc!
Bonus: If you're reading this today, and live in NYC, you also can hear/see Kyle Kinane tell jokes for free at Whiplash (11 p.m. tonight March 8) at the UCB Theatre.
The Bentzen Ball opened its inaugural comedy festival in our nation's capital last night, and The Comic's Comic was there for what seemed like a flash (because I was only there for about as many hours as I actually spent on the bus back and forth between NYC and DC from yesterday afternoon to this morning). But there I was in the shadows alongside Kyle Kinane, enjoying Rory Scovel's "country bumpkin" act during the Patton Oswalt and Friends show that served as the ball's opening gala at DC's Lincoln Theatre. Did I say country bumpkin? Yes, I did.
I'm fairly sure few people in the audience knew what kind of a show they were getting from Scovel, who joked about needing to smoke pot to enjoy this summer's rash of 3D animated movies, about fulfilling the WWJD motto, and at one point, telling the audience: "This is like Christmas, but I'm eating it!" Oswalt may have been the big draw for opening night -- and certainly did his part closing with a 50-minute set that touched upon routines from his latest CD/DVD, as well as a few memories about his start in stand-up in D.C. clubs, plus a rant about the Christmas song, "Christmas Shoes." He also encouraged the crowd to check out many of the not-so "famous" comedians performing at this weekend's fest. Not that they had to go very far, for they got treated to sets from Kinane (he received prolonged spontaneous applause after his performance, which closed with an adventure in a Chicago public bathroom -- so no need for him to be consoled by one of the festival's organizers, Andy Wood, afterward (as pictured!)), Ian Edwards (who provoked them into rethinking their attitudes on race and sex, and even made them gasp during his closer), and sets by the more famous acts of Todd Barry and Mary Lynn Rasjkub, and host/curator Tig Notaro. For a full set of photos from last night, check out Dakota Fine's full collection courtesy of fest organizer Brightest Young Things.
I also checked out the late show at the Bohemian Caverns, which has a basement set up to look like a cave. Nice touch? Maybe, but the stage lighting was a bit off, and the upstairs had turned into a dance club, factors that made it tough for many of the performers Thursday night -- although Seth Herzog and Morgan Murphy both seemed to get the crowd's attention in a good way. The local comedians, meanwhile, were showcasing over at HR 57, and there was an open mic advertised at Ben's Chili Bowl, which I don't remember seeing when Barry, Herzog, Reggie Watts and I went over there to sample the local institution's Chili Half-Smoke (online, the menu says it's named after Bill Cosby!).
Oh, did I mention that the Question Mark Suit Guy (informercial guy Matthew Lesko) was there, opening the festivities with a horrible comedy sketch that he and DC Councilman Jim Graham planned out? You can see that and more in this short highlight reel I put together from my brief sojourn to DC:
Friday in Aspen: The 2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival
Stand Up D
Hosted by Hyla Matthews, who had a recurring bit pretending to go through all of the relationship steps with a guy in the front row. And now for your comedians.
Kyle Kinane. I met this guy the first night I got into Aspen and he wore a bizarre beret that he even said was not a beret. That’s the bizarre part. But when he grabbed the mic and said, “What’s happening, snowflakes and fingerprints?!” I knew to expect some comedy gold. And Kinane delivered, with a sharp self-deprecating style. He might have thought his volcano barbecue bit didn’t go so well, but he shouldn’t worry so much. Good job.
Hari Kondabolu came next, and (full disclosure: condo roommate) he impressed me with his social commentary on the diversity of white people, selling people to India, and immigration.
Then Dan Boulger came up. So rewarding to see him just slay an audience of complete strangers (and important industry types). The audience slowly rose to a boil, and as soon as Boulger’s Bush/Hitler joke landed, they were roaring til the end. Nicely played. Boulger told me the audience reacted similarly the previous time, and he wondered if he should move the Hitler bit up. I said no no. You’ve got it timed just right. Let ‘em warm up to you. By the way, I love Boulger, and I hate him, because he made me stay up way too late Thursday night (so if you were lacking for blog posts, now you know). And now for your next comedian.
Michelle Buteau. Heyhey! What? Hello! The Jamaican/Haitian lady says, “You know how I got so light? It’s called colonialism.” Heyyy!
Owen Benjamin. Opened with a joke about how silly it is that people couldn’t distinguish between Superman and Clark Kent. Followed that with a joke about how he’s tall, so people think he plays basketball. Um, yeah. He did rebound (ahem) with material about his gay and gayer parents. And a good diamond joke. And I found some funny videos of him. So that makes up for his opener.
Lavell Crawford delivered some spot-on jokes about Aspen. “Heated sidewalks?” he said. “I’m telling all the homeless people I know about this!” His closing bit about Subway dragged on a bit, though. Just saying.