Andy Kindler

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Comedy, Interviews | by — September 10, 2018

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Andy Kindler American comedian and actor Andy Kindler is currently in the middle of his Ugly America Tour, which is running until September 15th at the Soho Theatre.

by Alex Plant

You might recognise Andy Kindler from his regular roles in Maron and Everybody Loves Raymond, or perhaps as the voice of aptly named mortician Mort in the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers, a role that was specifically created for him. “The only time I usually get things is when they’re written for me,” he chuckles. He’ll be the first to say he’s been lucky when it comes to TV roles, but first and foremost he’s a stand-up.

Kindler has spent 30 years honing his comedy style to become one of America’s most respected and outspoken comedians. From 1996 onwards he’s delivered the annual State of the Industry Address at the legendary Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, in which no one is safe from his trademark brand of snark. He has a reflexive, highly self-deprecating style to his stand-up that often deconstructs the very art of comedy itself.

“The National Lampoon thing, I think, was really the beginning of me getting into my current style.” He’s referring to the The Hack’s Handbook, a 1991 feature he wrote for National Lampoon magazine, that sent ripples through the comedy industry. The how-to-guide satirised the hacky mainstream comedians that were so prevalent in the 80s and early 90s, but even today it still feels incredibly relevant. “I’m really proud of it, and it still holds up,” he beams. Along with his regular appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman it’s still one of the two things he could “die after having done.”

But the origins of Kindler’s self-deprecation go back even further, to his love of comedians such as Woody Allen and Albert Brooks. “I’ve always loved vulnerability in comedy. And, just in my family, I think at an early age I learned that being self deprecating could diffuse situations. So this is something I started doing from the beginning,” he explains. “From the very first time I was on stage, I remember, the joke didn’t go well and I’d go, ‘Boy, that didn’t go well.’ It was almost like I was compelled to do it.” However, Andy considers this to be both a strength and a weakness. “I can often over-exaggerate how poorly I’m doing,” he reflects on his own brand of self-sabotage. “It’s the downside of my style. Every single joke I’ve gotta deconstruct.” Though it’s this deconstruction that’s made Kindler so respected among his peers, earning him the title of comedian’s comedian. “I think that’s the greatest complement of all time,” he says. “People like deconstruction. And if you know the field that I’m deconstructing then you can relate to it more.”

 

The cafe we were in encouraged customers to write their own poems in books provided. Andy wrote the following:

Andy Kindler Poem

 

Growing up Jewish, Kindler states that he is obsessed with Hitler. He’s quick to draw parallels with the current political situation in the US and that of Germany in the 1930s. Like many Americans he’s “ashamed” of the current president and says he “understands” when he overhears British people say they wouldn’t want to visit while Trump is in office. But what did you expect from a man that called his show Ugly America? “I’m embarrassed about this and I’m going to want to talk about it. And I could kinda see London as a place I could defect to,” he chuckles.

Kindler is very generous and forthcoming as he freely discusses his OCD and being in therapy both onstage and off. “I joke that I’m the oldest Jew in therapy,” he laughs. At one point he breaks out his cue cards and he shows me how he has alphabetised his material for the show, starting with “Aging Jews”. On his Twitter, Kindler will often call out politicians, broadcasters and even other comedians, and when asked about what he thinks of this aspect of social media he responds, “It’s a very positive thing, except on a personal level… For me, I hit rock bottom from Twitter and social networking, because it’s an OCD nightmare.” And it’s understandable. He had an ongoing feud with Ricky Gervais, who would frequently set his followers on Kindler. “The fact that I was dealing with him directly, it started to get bad for me. Now I realise after all the years that the proper forum to say these things is the stage, or the speech at Montreal.”

Another comedian Kindler has famously butted heads with is the recently disgraced Louis C.K. “I hated him before it was appropriate,” he says wryly. C.K. forms a key part of Kindler’s act, and though he jokes that some of the scorn used to come from “jealousy and his own insecurities” the schadenfreude must be particularly sweet.

Upcoming for Kindler is more Bob’s Burgers and some festivals back in North America. But the project he speaks most fondly of is his podcast, Thought Spiral, which he does with friend and fellow comedian J. Elvis Weinstein. “It’s really the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and the most rewarding. What I wanted to create was what I like from podcasts; something that takes you out of your head, something you look forward to.”

Kindler is quick to raise up other comedians when given the chance. Throughout the interview he sings the praises of a diverse list of comedians including Bo Burnham, Maria Bamford, Dave Attel and Hannah Gadbsy. He tells me that he believes comedy is better now than it’s ever been. “I really feel that way, because when I started there was not a guy who was gay who could say he was gay. Ellen had to hide that she was gay! And now I see people from all backgrounds, races, creeds, colours and it’s not like they have to explain…it’s been opened up a lot more and the audiences are generally better.”

Comedy may be better than ever, but Andy Kindler’s special brand of deconstruction and self-deprecation remains unique and enjoyable. At the interview’s close, I ask him to describe himself using only one word. He deliberates and gives me three separate answers, the best of which is “Pure Genius.”

 

Our review of Andy Kindler: The Ugly America Tour

One Response to “Andy Kindler”

  1. jocko Dore says:

    Andy was great as Jamison in The World Wrestling Federation

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