KYLE KINANE is the comedian for anyone who’s ever thought “Hydraulic fluid smells like breakfast!”
His storytelling style isn’t linear—he has a train of thought that switches tracks without warning—but the ride is always worth taking. Peppered with slackers, miscreants and people with questionable motives, the scenery’s great.
In one of his funniest bits, Kinane describes an otherwise routine flight on a commercial airplane. Once he notices, however, that the guy sitting next to him is eating dry pancakes out of a paper bag from Foot Locker, his mind begins to race.
Onstage, Kinane does seven minutes on the pancake guy. And it’s roll-on-the-floor hilarious (that line about hydraulic fluid comes from this bit).
Kinane’s Aug. 14 appearance at the Wormhole is part of a run-up to his Aug. 16 spot at the 40 Watt in Athens, which is being filmed for a Comedy Central special. We are one of the warmup gigs.
Is it safe to say that comics like Mitch Hedberg and Bill Hicks opened doors for “different” comics like you?
Kyle Kinane: Hedberg's responsible for me seeing somebody on TV and thinking "He's not talking about his wife and kids. He's just being a weirdo, who looks like somebody I might encounter somewhere." Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, you know, they were just going up there telling stories ... I think people were only exposed to a very limited scope of what comedy could be, for a long time. You know, brick wall in the background, guy wearing a blazer. It's an open-ended stage; you can do whatever you want, poetry, music, all kinds of stuff.
The first guy that really turned my head was Steven Wright.
Kyle Kinane: Yeah, it's not that it had to be relate-able. It's just "Wow, this guy is such a weirdo and he's great with words." I didn't have to go "Oh, that's what my wife does!"
How much of what you talk about has a germ in something that you've really done or seen?
Kyle Kinane: It's all got some root in reality. I mean, they're all bar bullshit stories. You tell a story at the bar, and it's funny. And then a few days later you're there and it's "Hey, Tony hasn't heard the story! Tell him that story!" And so you give it a little bit more, to give the people that heard it the first time around a reason to laugh. And by the end, you don't even know what the truth is. You just know that you got this good story that makes everybody laugh.
It always starts somewhere. A kid was eating pancakes out of a plastic bag on an airplane next to me. I was just in awe of the idea of it. And mentioning that onstage got a laugh. So the next time I go onstage, it’s like the next day at the bar: “I’m gonna tell the story again, but I’m gonna embellish it a little bit more to make it even more funny.” That’s how the whole act grows, y’know?
You’re billed as “The Voice of Comedy Central.” What the hell does that mean?
Kyle Kinane: It means nothing. I just do a lot of the bumpers, Coming Up Next ... I tell them when to watch other people's shows. I don't want it to be used in promotions for my comedy, because it doesn't give anybody an insight to the fact that the comedy might be good or not. It turns up in promotions sometimes, but why would the voice of anything be a reason to think somebody's funny? It's like, "Hey, let's go see this guy who does the Campbell's Soup commercial." That doesn't add any value to what I'm doing on the stage. Lucidity doesn't mean talent.
Why tape your special at the 40 Watt?
Kyle Kinane: I like those music venues better than theaters. A theater's got this shiny black tap dance stage, and I'm up there like a slob telling scumbag stories. Against the ornate backdrop of some historic theater. But in music clubs, yeah, I'll get down and dirty in there, tell some stories, and hopefully the beers aren't too expensive. Let's set up the camera and hope people laugh at the jokes, that's all.
It’s been two years since the last one came out. I’m doing it for Comedy Central, which means I will inevitably announce my own special on Comedy Special.