Comedy hasn’t got­ten eas­ier for Ki­nane

Still chal­leng­ing, stand-up pro shares

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - ART - By Bob Mehr

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

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