[photo by Andy Carano]
As the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival winds down into its final night, we got to talk to a Moontower veteran, comedian Andy Kindler. It’s only the third year of the Moontower festival, but Kindler’s been with the festival since it’s inception. We were excited to get to talk with Kindler today about his week in Austin, as well as the state of comedy, and the upcoming season of Last Comic Standing. Andy is performing tonight at the Parish Theater in Austin at 9:15pm central time.
The IBang: How’s the festival been so far?
Andy Kindler: it’s really great. I think its the best festival. Well the Montreal probably is my favorite, because I’ve been going there for like 20 years. But this festival, immediately the first year was just incredible. I was at SXSW a couple of years and that was kind of a nightmare. And this is very laid back but all the venues are close to each other. They book great comics here and the crowds are great. It’s just a dream.
The IBang: Has there been a highlight for you so far?
Andy Kindler: I think the highlight might have been, I was hosting the “Speakeasy”, and so I just got on one of those rolls where, maybe five or six minutes where I went straight with– not so much stream of consciousness– but kind of like that. So that’s always the greatest feeling in the world. But it can never last, you know? (laughs) That’s why I never liked Saturday night crowds that much, when you’re at a comedy club. Because they’re all pumped up and its actually not conducive to comedy. So this is a great environment. To me, I don’t like to– everyone likes to kill– but it’s hard to kill continuously.
The IBang: Have you had a chance to hang out with any comedy friends this week?
Andy Kindler: Yeah, cause I opened up for Marc Maron. Well James Adomian and I opened up for Marc Maron last night and James– I’m a huge fan of and he’s so funny. And of course, selfishly I love him because he does a really good impression of me. He does a whole thing– like “Ah– I was staying at the– at the– at thee uh– Westin? Because there was no room at the East-on? Wh-wh-wh-wh-whats amatter? You don’t like my cardinal directions humor?” Unbelievable.
The IBang: You do a great impression of James doing a great impression of you.
Andy Kindler: You know Dan Mintz plays one of the daughters on Bob’s Burgers who’s a great comic. Two years ago in Montreal, James Adomian introduced me, as me. Right? And Dan Mintz is nearsighted and he could only come in for a couple of minutes so he was standing in the back and he didn’t have his glasses on, and he was like, why is Andy Kindler doing all these like hacky jokes? James was doing things like “Rich-ard Pry-ro? More like Richard Pre-vios?” Also, James is great to hang out with because he’s– you see why someone is such an amazing impressionist because he has a great eye. Festivals like this are great because you don’t really get to see comics, like your friends, much anymore, because we’re all doing different stuff. And so even when we’re in LA we don’t see each other. So that makes it great.
The IBang: It’s like a celebration of comedy really. Where do you think the level of comedy is now compared to when you started out?
Andy Kindler: I don’t want to jinx it but I would say now is the best time period ever. I’ve been saying that for the last few years, because I started in the mid-80s, and that was right as the comedy boom was in full swing, and by the time the comedy boom imploded in the early 90’s, comedy had become so homogonized and so cheesy. Nobody would ever thing that you could find something funny at a comedy club. And so I was alone with a bunch of people like Janeane Garofalo and David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, and Scott Thompson. We kind of like helped to form this alternative movement both in New York and LA, and we had to form it because there was no place for us to play. Regular clubs were — we couldn’t play. So now I feel like that’s the way all comedy is. Like what the alternative movement was like. The crowds are just…especially here in Austin, the crowds are great and they’re willing to listen to comics. So you have all these different kinds, like my friend Jackie Kashian who has really found her voice. She was always funny but she’s really found her voice. She’s doing things that require you to listen. They’re more of a story, it’s not like jokes. I think it’s amazing– an amazing environment right now. I wish I could make fun of it.
The IBang: Last Comic Standing is being rebooted this year. You were a judge the last season that we had. How was your experience of being a judge on that?
Andy Kindler: It was one of these things where I had made fun of the show for so long. Because I don’t like competition shows to begin with. I kind of mocked the show. So I of course, knew that people would make fun of me for doing it. But the truth is, its one of those things like– it’s so weird because I make fun of so many things and I mock so many things, so people think I’m against anybody who takes work. But its more like, as you are making money and making a living, and you get to make decisions based on what you want to do, hopefully your choices are better. I needed the money, but also, Paige Hurwitz who was the producer of the show, she really kind of promised me that it wouldn’t be the way it was in years past. And they really followed through on that promise. There was no shenanigans, I didn’t have to be Simon Cowell. And I got to spend time with Natasha Leggero who was great. And then the brilliant Greg Giraldo, who I just got so close with during that show and Lewis Black’s show, Root of All Evil. So I got a lot of time to spend with him, and I really thought it was a really positive experience because I didn’t do any of the things that I hate about competition shows. To me Simon Cowell is evil, or the idea that you can make people better at what they’re doing by criticizing them. And then the final ten comics were all great. Once you introduce voting, then, (laughs) you don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s just a cheesy element to competition shows that don’t make them my favorite. You know, I root for the show. I’m not on it but I root for it. Hopefully it’s going to be good. And also, I had Craig Robinson as the host. So we kind of like made fun of competition shows. Hopefully this doesn’t sound like a rationalization. (laughs)
The IBang: You gonna watch this year?
Andy Kindler: I was actually out of LA and they called me to do something, but I couldn’t do it. But I’ll definitely check it out. They’re doing different things with it this year. So we’ll see– I don’t know. The one thing that’s hard is, they get these theaters, and once you put comedy in a theater, sometimes I don’t think people don’t know what they’re seeing. We’ll just have to see what happens. But I’ll watch it. I try to watch everything related to comedy. Except for Jimmy Fallon. Except for Jimmy Fallon.
The IBang: One more show tonight at Moontower. And then where are you off to next?
Andy Kindler: I’m going back to L.A. I’m doing David Letterman, the Late Show on May 16th, so I’m very thrilled about that. And then I have a CD coming out called “Hence the Humor” which should come out in a couple of months. And I’ll be back in Montreal in the summer.