Speakeasy with Kyle Kinane

Image Kyle Kinane is an unmotivated, self-aware misanthrope. He's also one of the best comedians on the planet. CL recently spoke with Kinane, who will be headlining Comedy Gold at the Buckhead Theatre on Saturday, May 7, about his start in comedy, his career trajectory, and why he should be nicer to audiences.

You're performing at the Buckhead Theatre on May 7, but you also did the Star Bar last Monday. Do you still do small local rooms and dive-bar comedy nights frequently?
Well, the only reason I got to this point is because of rooms like that. Any bigger opportunity that comes along is exciting, but those kinda rooms and dive bars are how I started out and they're still the most fun for me.

Is it to practice just commanding the stage under difficult, distracting circumstances- like at a loud bar with a less attentive audience, some of whom might not have even been there for a comedy show?
I actually think it’s harder to command a stage at a comedy club when people walk in just thinking it's for everyone, no matter who the comedian or crowd is, just because they're at a comedy club. Like, people don't do that with music. They don't go to a concert not knowing who they're going to see or what type of music it is, and assume that because it's music, they'll like it; they do their research and know who they're going to see. But sometimes at the comedy clubs, you get people who just decided they want to go out and laugh, and think that any comedian should be funny for them.

When and where did you start doing stand-up?
I started out in Chicago. I was there from '99-'03, then I moved out to LA.

Did you get called out to LA with projects lined up, or did you just decide to move out there and go for it?
I just jumped off the plank. I didn't have any real reason or plan, I was just like, 'I can either go to LA instead of working the road from Chicago, or... eehhhh, I’ll try it out.'

So when you got out to LA how quickly did things happen for you? You've had a great last few years, and you're really gaining a lot of passionate fans and getting good work, but was it a grind at first in LA, or did the move make everything happen that much quicker?
Well when I got there, it's not like I was making any money or just getting awesome shows, but I knew I was becoming a better comedian and getting good feedback. As long as I’m getting positive reinforcement I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, I had no problem playing the slow game.

So much of your comedy is from a cynical, careless slacker's perspective. As your success grows, and you naturally become happier and busier and more ambitious, are you worried that that's going to change your act, or persona?
I think it’s one of those, “as long as you’re being who you are on stage” kind of things. You change as a human being, you know. I don’t have a shitty day job anymore, so I don't go on stage bitching about my job, but that's not to say I've changed as a comedian. Stand-up one of the true things that I honestly care about. It’s one of those things I would do for free, I basically did it for free, or next to nothing, for ten years. So to me it's about the process and just using stand-up to talk about whatever is going on in my life or what I'm thinking about.

What's one thing you're still working on, or trying to improve as a comedian?
I think I could be a little more amicable towards the audience. I get really bristle with the audience quickly. I shouldn't be mean to the hecklers off the bat, but I just hate walking into a place and feeling like I need to be a baby-sitter.

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