2018 has been terrible year for humanity, but a great year for Andy Kindler’s annual “State of Comedy” speech at Just for Laughs in Montreal, and Andy took full advantage of all of the awful things you already know about, and a few that you don’t. Chris Hardwick, Louis C.K., were on the chopping block as you might have expected, as was Jeremy Piven, all surrounding their #metoo scandals. Kindler also took shots at Netflix, a few jabs at Ricky Gervais and spent a lengthy segment calling out critics in general, but particularly Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker. Roseanne, Kevin James and Hannah Gadsby got mentions, CNN got skewered, and even Jo Koy took a few hits. It was one of Kindler’s best speeches since we’ve been attending Just for Laughs, and he’s proven he only gets better with age.
Every year Kindler’s willingness to take shots that others only talk about in green rooms and at the comedian tables around the country is always hilarious, but it’s Kindler’s delivery, style, self-deprecation (not always a bad thing) and schtick that make the annual event an absolute must-see for almost everyone at the festival. And everyone was there including a discreet corner in the back filled with super celebs like Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Trevor Noah, Rachel Feinstein, and Jimmy Carr.
Kindler kicked off this year’s speech talking about Chris Hardwick, not poking fun at his scandelous outting as a bad boyfriend, but instead dropping the hammer on Hardwick’s career. “Chris Hardwick is back! Points!!” he shouted getting roars from the audience. Of course he was talking about @midnight, the only tv game show that isn’t really a game at all. “I love a show where comics pretend to adlib trivia answers,” he said, “Points! And there are no stakes.” He made fun of Hardwick’s poorly named or poorly timed game show “The Wall” during the era of Trump, and proclaimed, “when I first heard people were upset with Chris Hardwick, I thought it has to be his act.”
Taking on another #metoo celebrity, Kindler noted that “Jeremy Piven is back” after being accused of “sexual mischief.” Piven has been touring comedy clubs, working on his stand up act, a decision Kindler says must have happened after stand up was all he came up with in his “jobs with no coworkers” search.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Kindler event without the topic of Trump coming up. Andy reminisced about the good old days when enduring Gallagher seemed like the worst tragedy we had to deal with instead of “babies being ripped from their mothers,” something he described as “not good.” It also wouldn’t be a Kindler speech without Kindlerisms and self deprecation like “I’m the first comedian to leave seats open for Elijah”.
Moving on to Roseanne, Andy pointed out how strange it was that ABC decided to do continue doing the show without Roseanne, and without bringing in another funny person to replace her, “like when Carson left” the Tonight Show. “She said she was fired for voting for Trump,” and Kindler said he wished that Hollywood had a rule like that, but it took 120 years to get to “you can’t grope” so he didn’t have high hopes.
Louis C.K. has been a recurring target for Kindler over the years, and this year he was excited to be able to target Louis with a few more people on his side. He said his own oddities and strange behaviors have often led him to agonize over things he didn’t even do. For example, he once heard a sound and thought he might have hit someone with his car, and so spent an inordinate amount of time checking and agonizing over the possibility. He thought he started a fire in Yosemite in 1978. But even with his nervousness and paranoia, he says he is certain he has never worried in his whole life that he ever asked a woman if he could take out his penis and masturbate in a casual setting.
The bulk of his Louis C.K. material came in the midst of a brilliant attack on film critic Emily Nusbaum that’s too lengthy to properly capture, and along the way his shpiel also covered Sex in the City, Drunk History. His critique of Nusbaum and gave him a momentary opportunity to give love to Dave Attell. When she called C.K. the country’s best stand up, Kindler said Louis C.K.. is not even the best comedian in New York. “Dave Attell is 40 times funnier than Louis C.K., sleeping. .”
Kindler closed this year’s speech laughing at Netflix for making comedy specials shorter and shorter, “I’m waiting for the “90 people who each make a funny noise” special,” he shouted, before pointing out that he did not save his strongest material for the end. Just like this article.