From his instantly recognizable baritone to his increasingly iconic beard, Kyle Kinane is fast becoming one of the most original, innovative, and flat-out hilarious voices in the world of stand-up comedy. While you may recognize his dulcet tones from Comedy Central’s commercial bumpers, the 37 year-old Chicago-born comedian has honed his stand-up craft to near-perfection. His critically acclaimed albums Death of the Party and Whiskey Icarus skewer everything from the subtle racism of Trader Joe’s to the absurdity of sitting next to someone on an airplane who has carried on a Foot Locker bag full of pancakes, all of which is filtered through his endearing, charismatic slacker persona. Plus he keeps uppity salsa companies in check, so he’s got that going for him too.
In support of his appearance this weekend at Los Angeles’ Riot LA comedy festival, I caught up with Kinane over e-mail, where he answered questions on everything from how his comedy has evolved over time to his advice for those of you looking to step behind the mic yourselves.
Nerdist: What can people expect from you at Riot LA? How did you get involved with the festival?
Kyle Kinane: I knew Abbie from the standup scene in L.A. What can people expect? Not much. Keep your expectations low and let the world surprise you. That’s my approach.
N: How does performing in a festival atmosphere compare to a normal gig?
KK: People are at a buffet instead of just one entree. They get to take it all in. Plus I get to hang out with all my favorite foods. I’m bad at metaphors.
N: Your stand-up special, Whiskey Icarus, was one of my favorite albums last year (even though it came out in 2012), and I also really dug Dancing Around the Shit Fire. Looking back, how has your comedy evolved since you started your career?
KK: Well, the subject matter changes. I’ve been comedying since 1999, so almost 15 years. I’m not 22 with a shitty day job talking about peeing on hookers because I thought that’s what passed for a punchline. Now I talk about my actual life and try not to mention the hookers, because my mom follows me online.
N: You’re also the voice of Comedy Central. Does that power ever go to your head? Like, “I’m the voice of COMEDY?”
KK: Not much power in telling people when to watch Workaholics (Wednesdays at 8, by the way).
N: Fair enough. Many of our audience are aspiring content creators themselves. What’s a piece of advice you would give to someone, say, looking to try stand-up or their hand at comedy?
KK: You do it because you love it. Never expect it to repay you financially. People that get into comedy thinking that it’s a career option are performing the biggest joke on themselves.
N: Last, but not least, what would be inside your ideal burrito?