moontower comedy interviews
On SNL, politics and Twitter addiction: An interview with Andy Kindler (part twoof two)
Yesterday, we described Andy Kindler as “the cool uncle of comedy,” because the brilliant stand-up marries eclectic observational humor with acerbic wit so perfectly, he leaves audiences wishing they had him on speed-dial for easy access to his cultural commentary, thoughts on TV, complaints about Twitter — whatever’s on his mind, we want to hear it.
This week, Kindler will be bringing his act to Austin for the inaugural Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival; you can catch him Wednesday, April 25 at 8 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Theater; Thursday, April 26 at 8:30 p.m. at Stateside at the Paramount; Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Theater; and Saturday, April 28 at 10:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Theater.
Here’s part two of our interview with Kindler, who appears at the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival this weekend. (Miss part one? Click here to catch up.)
Who are some acts you’re really into right now that other people might not know about yet?
I always go blank when I think about comedians, it’s so ridiculous. Some people others obviously know about, like Paul F. Tompkins and Todd Barry; I don’t know how many people know about Tig Notaro, she’s hilarious, but I do think a lot of people know about her — she just did two Conan’s in a row, so it’s hard to call her a newcomer but for some people she might be. I love John Mulaney, nobody makes me laugh more than him, I just think he’s so amazing. I love Hannibal Buress, I’m sure people know him. I love James Adomian.
He’s the BEST.
It’s so hard to talk about comics, because nothing you can say can really sum up what they’re really doing, but he really does seem to take more chances than anybody else. Of course I love Marc Maron. Podcasts are a whole other thing; I love Tom Scharpling, The Best Show, and I love Julie Klausner, and I love Amy Sedaris in any context.
"My podcast is 24/7/365, I just leave the recorder on all year long, all night long, all day long. I just put out the first season, 'Spring.'"
Does she have a show?!
I don’t think she has a show, but I always like her when she does on Letterman, or anything she does.
Imagine if she had a podcast.
There’d be nothing better, you’d just hear her all day long. My podcast is 24/7/365, I just leave the recorder on all year long, all night long, all day long. I just put out the first season, “Spring.”
I love Rachel Feinstein — I’m looking at the Moontower lineup now — Rachel’s great.
Are you an avid SNL watcher?
I’ve been a fan of that show since it started, so I love the show, and I love the concept of the show, but I’ve always been in the anti-Lorne Michaels camp; I feel that he has set up a situation where everyone’s frightened of him, I think there’s all these politics that have gone on over the years, so I think for many, many years, I’ve been kind of angry at the show.
But not because they haven’t had great people. Like right now, Bill Hader is so great, and the pieces that Mulaney is writing — have you seen Hader do the old reporter guy?
Is that so great? And I love Kristin Wiig, there’s so many great people on the show right now. But I really feel that you have these people who are brilliant, like the writers are so talented, but it’s never about the talent. I just feel like this guy wants to be the king of show business or something like that, so he’s set up this, I don’t know, ponderous process that’s never changed. Because they did it in ’75, they have to stay up all night. So every week when I watch it, I’m both exhilarated and want to jump out of a window. Does that make sense?
One thing Mulaney and Seth Meyers do, that I love, is they’ll Tweet writing credits out after the show, which is great because traditionally you don’t see those writers get recognition for individual sketches.
Right, and I think that is so important, and I’m like proud of myself if I text [Mulaney] and I’m right that he was involved in it. I just so relate to his style of comedy — we’re different, but it’s the same kind of area of how you look at things. I met him when he was I think 21, he’s been brilliant forever. And since I got into Portlandia, I’ve started to watch Fred’s stuff more; he does that political comedian guy…
Yeah, stuff like that. And when Jason Sudeikis did Mark McGrath, you know, the Sugar Ray guy, it just made me laugh so hard. And Taran Killam, he’s my hero because he did the best Dane Cook thing ever, when he was on Mad TV, it’s the greatest thing in the world. If you’re a fan of how much you don’t like Dane Cook, he captures it so well, it’s amazing. And his Piers Morgan, which he did last week… that guy is so detestable, Piers Morgan, in every way. I’m just amazed.
"I’ve always been in the anti-Lorne Michaels camp; I feel that he has set up a situation where everyone’s frightened of him."
Right now, I have to say I’m literally amazed by the level of incompetence, especially in the news outlets; that CNN would hire Piers Morgan and let him bore America to tears every night. This guy that’s fired from a tabloid in Great Britain, who comes here and is on that terrible America’s Got Talent show, and Taran really captures how hideous he is.
I love when they really nail someone good.
That was a dicey sketch, too, the Trayvon Martin one, but it was executed perfectly.
Yeah, the idea that nobody really wants to go on his show. The thing about Piers Morgan that’s just fascinating is how much every single guest, it’s about his relationship — how he’s always wanted to see them, how much they want to see him, how excited he is about the conversation. It breaks every rule of entertainment. “Stay tuned, because you’re going to hear things that’ll blow your mind!” It’s like telling someone you have a really funny story before you tell the story.
Do you watch a lot of network news?
Well, I love President Barack Obama so much, I think he’s the greatest president we’ve ever had, as far as I’m concerned I thank God everyday that he’s the president. So I watch all of those shows because I want him to be re-elected. But I’m also in love with Brian Williams. I love him as a TV personality and the way that he reads news, I do watch his show every night.
But other than Brian Williams, I’m basically enraged by everything else in the news; I hate MSBNC, we know Fox News is propaganda, CNN is the worst, when they put Lou Dobbs in — Ted Turner had a good idea and he lost control of it. I do enjoy Wolf Blitzer. The thing that bothers me about all these news shows is, they’re always criticizing Obama because he didn’t do something he didn’t have the votes to do. So to me, it’s the most boring conversation that is completely a mischaracterization. I gave you too much information, but the short answer is, I’m obsessed with the news.
There’s a real big difference between reporters like Richard Engel and these guys who risk their lives every day — those to me are real reporters, who are interested in the truth. Except for rare exceptions, these domestic reporters are like... one year salt’s good for you, the next year you shouldn’t have it — they don’t even know what they’re talking about. There’s no level of expert opinion.
The other problem, when we hear the argument that the media is left-wing — you know, that was always bullshit — but the media is not left-wing or right-wing, they’re in favor of the status quo. They take every attack against them personally, but they never take responsibility for their own role.
It’s really crystallized for me that they’re invested so much in a certain angle; like one of the angles I can’t stand is that false equivalence thing, you know, where they have to say “Obama is the same on the left as McCain was on the right,” and that’s just not true. It doesn’t mean, because Obama is a politician, that he’s lying to us. They don’t trust anyone, but we’re supposed to trust them — they’re the ones giving us the truth.
On the topic of easy access to opinions, and going back to comedy, Twitter does make it easier for people to just start blasting out jokes, whether they’ve been working on them or they post stuff as soon as it comes to mind. What are your thoughts on that immediacy and how it relates to comics?
That part, to me, is the best thing. I grew up in a family where everyone was really funny; my dad is the funniest person I know, he’s hilarious, so I thought that everybody was funny, you know, then I got into the real world.
Jonathan Winters is famous for saying, “Most people don’t have a sense of humor; they think they do, but they don’t.” You kind of get disappointed by the stuff people don’t get. But I’m just amazed on Twitter how funny people are, especially when they present a subject that you can riff on…I think people come up with great stuff. And not that there’s not a lot of terrible stuff, but I really love that thing, where people are bantering with each other, and as a comedian I find it very helpful.
"But I’m just amazed on Twitter how funny people are, especially when they present a subject that you can riff on."
Of course the downside of anything is, you really have to kind of know that you’re going to say stuff every once in awhile…like I look back at stuff and go, what was that, it sounds like a hacky comic, but I didn’t know that at the moment.
Do you think the medium is changing those “rules” for what’s seen as “hack” nowadays?
I don’t know about the hack thing, because I feel like hack-y is…like, I said something that I wouldn’t say was hack-y but it was just like, pedestrian, it was a pedestrian comment that I might say around the house but I wouldn’t want to share it with everybody. But I don’t think you can avoid that, you can’t really put things out if you don’t take chances.
I feel like I do take those extra seconds to think about what I’m sending out, put it through some kind of filter, and I think people don’t really think about that…is that what you’re asking?
Yeah; it is so easy to put things out there, it can change the editing process, right?
Well the thing is too, none of it really should be taken that seriously. There’s probably so many great comedians who don’t feel comfortable Tweeting, it doesn’t mean they’re any less hilarious. You don’t have to be good at Tweeting, and so then if someone’s not great at Tweeting and they think they are, or you see parts of their personality that they’re sharing, and they say things you don’t care about, that part of it’s kind of annoying.
But for me, I love puns in a way, even though I hate puns, and I also like doing jokes that I kind of know are bad jokes and talking about the jokes, there’s so many different shades of what you’re doing on Twitter that I find it really great. But for me sometimes I find myself sitting there for 10 minutes trying to come up with something, and I know I’m totally wasting my life — why am I doing that, do I have to come up with something? Get out, go away!
Thank God I’m not on LinkedIn or Foursquare or Pinterest. Twitter is easy, but Facebook…every day they have a new rule, they want you to take a tour, every day. Do you like Facebook, or do you find it frustrating?
"I don’t know if I can leave Facebook yet, but maybe I can go into some kind of therapy about it."
I’m actually not on it anymore.
That’s so smart.
To be fair, I spent about as much of that time on Twitter now. But I don’t need to know those things about most of those people.
It’s true, you really don’t. But with Twitter, you’re probably spending too much time on it, like me, but at least it’s like homework. People are using ‘Event’ very loosely on Facebook. And all the causes, and that thing where everyone was sending me pictures of Nike shoes…not a virus, but a sort of computer common cold. You may have stirred me to action. I don’t know if I can leave Facebook yet, but maybe I can go into some kind of therapy about it.
I don’t think you can really delete it anyways, just sort of put it on hold.
I’m convinced that somebody from one of those organizations lives in my attic. After awhile, isn’t it just gobbledygook? When are they going to know that I looked to see if the bruise on my knee was a tumor? You know how many searches I have? What are they going to find from us that we don’t already share? “Andy likes candy.”
Exactly; Pete Holmes has mentioned on his podcast how he thinks we’re approaching a point where nobody will have any privacy anymore because we’re sharing everything online anyways.
I just would not allow myself to be photographed. I won’t look at myself in the mirror, I don’t want any photos of me getting out. I don’t want a photo of my kneecap on the web. I don’t want people to see a photo of me without gel in my hair. I’m just glad that when I started comedy there weren’t a lot of phone cameras — I wouldn’t want my act from when I first started getting up there.
You have much less control over what other people put out about you.
I’m of the school where I really do not, I mean I’m not in favor of it, but I wouldn’t worry; part of being a comic is that people are going to see you when you’re working on jokes, to me I don’t care about that, really. But then again I have nothing but upswing from where I am, in terms of audience.
But I just think, how many people are going to care that later on it becomes a different bit? It never excuses the people doing it; if someone doesn’t want you to film a thing, don’t film it. Like someone filmed my thing about Dane Cook, up in Vancouver, and someone commented on the film about how poor the video quality is; and I commented like, “Well, I didn’t arrange the phone camera shoot.” And then he responded, “I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about the video.”
Then I stopped reading the comments. I told my wife, don’t read any comments about me anywhere, it’s just never going to be good.
If Twitter’s bad, comment pages are just the worst.
Even if it’s good, you still don’t even know who the person is. It could be a robot that likes you. I used to do this thing about how you’d be walking around your house like, “Why does RazorbladeInApple have a problem with me? Why does LovesToSerialKill666 not enjoy my act?” There’s no way of knowing.
Andy Kindler (and 70+ other comics) will be performing at theMoontower Comedy and Oddity Festival April 25 - 28. Single performance tickets and festival passes are available now.