LIVE: Kyle Kinane @ The Egg, 10/22/2021
Sometime in 2008, I was living in Los Angeles, working through the post-art school malaise of trying to figure out what the hell I would attempt to do next. I lived in a small house in the San Fernando Valley with a few similarly dispositioned friends and we’d go on outings to support each other’s varied artistic endeavors. Sometimes this would include things like trying to eat a 4-foot pizza in under 2 hrs to win money to pay rent or attending comedy shows in random locations like laundromats and arcades. One particular such outing led us to a dimly lit, unassuming arcade bar in West Los Angeles. A few friends were performing and rumor had spread that there was some great new comic from Chicago that was going on later “so we should probably stick around.” Kyle Kinane ambled through the arcade crowd after a less-than-enthusiastic introduction and plucked the mic from the stand. Grumpy yet undeniably hilarious, he proceeded to wake up an otherwise sleepy room with his clever and often biting takes on the ridiculous nature of being alive. It was the first time I had seen a new-to-me comedian take control of a room. Dick and fart jokes were aplenty, but what struck me back then about Kinane’s comedy was his self-effacing “something’s wrong with YOU if you like me” attitude.
Stepping onto the stage at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre this Thursday night was a more fully realized version of Kinane. About 30 pounds lighter with far more gray in his beard than the last time I saw him, he emerged from the side of the room adorned in coveralls normally reserved for folks engaging in heavy manual labor or playing heavy metal music while wearing terrifying masks (I’m lookin’ at you, Slipknot). These days, he approaches his comedy with slightly less dick and fart jokes and a sizable helping of cosmic uncertainty. References to the 50/50 chance that humanity is living inside a simulation and an extended look into the merits of the pear highlighted his ability to zoom out on a premise and really examine the absurdity of life itself. Throughout the 80 minute set, mentions were made of recent attempts to be a better person and Kinane admitted that like most of us he walks through life constantly judging everything. The search for contentment seems to have softened some of the hard edges of a former punk musician turned voice of Comedy Central.
Luckily for those of us in the crowd, some of the edges are still there. One chunk, in particular, had me rolling with laughter when, in a moment of seeming spontaneity, he went off on how he hates jam bands because of their penchant for long noodling guitar solos. Silently he proceeded to do an impression of the bass player in a jam band who continues to try to end a song only to be brushed off by his bandmates. A simple joke that expanded into a hilarious physical riff had the entire crowd dying with laughter (even the few folks in Phish and moe. merch). It’s moments like those that define who Kyle Kinane is and what makes his comedy so special. Highlighting our differences while using comedy to unite folks is a unique and welcome concept in a time when our differences seem to divide us more than ever. It’s a joy to witness someone with the ability to craft a joke and continue to riff on it until even he is confused and laughing. That’s what we got at the Egg on Thursday. Not a super tight road rehearsed set of jokes that could work in any brick-walled shopping mall comedy club, but a meandering and hilarious ride through the perspective of one of today’s best comedic minds.
Opener Sam Tallent had done a fantastic job warming the crowd up, shifting gracefully between shockingly funny jokes about the death of his mother and simpler concepts like his physical stature & wardrobe choices (“I’ve given up, so this is just what you get”). A quick fifteen minute set from Tallent clearly left the crowd clamoring for more as immediately after the show was done a long line had formed to purchase his new book Running The Light. Pick up a copy at SamTallent.com and head over to KyleKinane.com for an extensive selection of Kinane merch.