Comedy hasn’t gotten easier for Kinane
Still challenging, stand-up pro shares
Comedian Kyle Kinane is somewhere in Missouri en route to a gig in Columbia. Rather than fly to the shows on his current tour, Kinane decided rent a car and drive. To hear him tell it, it’s a means of keeping himself fresh and sane, as he tours the country making people laugh.
“Flying out on Wednesday and coming home on a Sunday, every weekend, it starts to wear you down,” Kinane says. “And instead of getting more and more used to dealing with air travel, I was getting a shorter fuse. And I was like ‘Man, I’m gonna end up in airport prison!’ It’s better all around for me to drive.”
The Los Angeles-based Kinane will steer himself to Memphis on Tuesday for a stand-up set at Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge. It’s been six years since Kinane has been back in the Bluff City, and much has changed for him professionally. Since then, he has done a trio of comedy specials, earned himself a regular slot on a pair of critically acclaimed sitcoms, and earned his place as one of the top stand-ups working today.
Next week, Kinane will record a new Comedy Central special in his hometown of Chicago. The current tour is designed to help him tighten up his act for the taping. “And it’s, uh, pretty loose right now,” says Kinane, chuckling. “I’ve been trying to tell myself not to worry: ‘It’s Comedian Kyle Kinane will deliver a set of stand-up at Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge on Tuesday.
your special. Do whatever you want. You’ve done enough of them, enjoy this one, instead of being all panicked about it.’”
A master of delivering absurdist observations with beery bluster, Kinane has had to tweak and evolve his stage persona as he’s grown more successful, without losing the connection to what drives his comedy: fear.
“The truth is, I’m still scared it’s going to go away,” he says. “I’m still saving all my money, thinking eventually this will end. It doesn’t feel permanent. That fear makes you humble: ‘Don’t get cocky, don’t get lazy.’ At the same time, I’m not gonna tell jokes about being broke and having a crappy day job because I certainly don’t have that anymore. I’m not gonna Larry the Cable Guy this whole thing.”
What has changed most for
Kinane is his approach to writing material. “When you first start out, you’re not bridled by anything. You say, ‘I’m gonna write jokes about everything.’ Now, after 17 years, I can’t do that. I have to think, ‘What’s my motivation for wiring that joke?’ Which makes it more difficult, which is good — means it’s not going to get boring, because it stays challenging.”
“Every time I want to react to something now, I go, ‘Why do I think that? What’s the opposite way of thinking that?’ It’s just an old high school debate tool. It took me many years away from any kind of higher learning to understand: To grow mentally, take the opposing viewpoint of your own, and see how it looks. That’s how I try and approach comedy now.”
After he wraps up his current tour, Kinane will head back home
to Los Angeles where he’ll spend the summer working on the second season of the trutv sitcom “Those Who Can’t.” The show, which focuses on a group high school teachers, finds Kinane stealing scenes as a cranky, soused war veteran (determining exactly which war is a bit of a running gag).
“It’s really great to work on something that I’m proud to be a part of,” he says of the show.
With his charming gruffness, Kinane seems poised to make some noise as an actor. He recently appeared in the Judd Apatow-produced Netflix sitcom “Love,” winning notices for his work there as well.
“I never pursued acting. If anything came along, I wasn’t going to shun it,” he says. I’d go to these auditions and failed all the time because I didn’t take it seriously. Now I do. I’ve been wearing out the gears on stand-up for a while. Acting still lets me be creative, but I can give the comedy part of my brain a rest occasionally.”
Ultimately, though, Kinane sees acting as a means to an end: a way to get attention for his real mission. “Anything that funnels more people into coming to see me do stand-up is a good thing. Because that’s who I am; that’s what I do,” he says. “My focus in the world is just being a good stand-up, hopefully.” The Farmer, 262 S. Highland: Beth Okeon: Acrylics and multimedia on canvas, through Sept. 5. Opening reception 4-6 p.m. Sunday. 901-3242221. David Lusk GalleryMemphis, 97 Tillman St.: Nancy Cheairs: “New Paintings,” Tuesday through June 18. Opening 6-8 p.m. May 20. Gallery hours: 10 a.m.5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. 901-767-3800. davidluskgallery.com National Ornamental Metal Museum, 374 Metal Museum Drive: “F.I.R.E. Glenn Zweygardt: Then & Now,” through May 22. Gallery Talk, 2:303 p.m. and reception, 3-5 p.m. Sunday. Work created by Zweygardt before and after his retirement as professor of sculpture at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays. 901-7746380. metalmuseum. org Rural Route Studio Tour, 4881 Canada Road in Lakeland and 12675 Donelson Road in Arlington: Deborah Fagan Carpenter, painter; Jimmy Crosthwait, sculptor; Agnes Stark, potter. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. FridaySaturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 901-3849132 or 901-458-2354. The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 800 East Parkway S.: Mike Moffitt and Fred Rawlinson artist reception 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Junior League of Memphis Art Hall. krocmemphis.org