When Addison native Kyle Kinane decided he wanted to do comedy as a student at Columbia College, one major problem stood in the way. “I didn't know where, how you started comedy,” he told RedEye. “You were either funny at a bar or you were a guy on TV telling jokes.”
Now, after years of being in bars, Kinane has told enough jokes on TV on Comedy Central, “Conan” and elsewhere to feel secure quitting his day job. He chatted from his LA home about his time in Chicago, his interest in extreme sports, and, well, hanging out in bars.
A lot of your bits are about this sense of failure and sitting at your job at feeling depressed, but now you're becoming successful. Is that changing the kind of stuff you're working on at all?
Yeah, I don't want to be disingenuous and still bitch about a job because everything I wanted to happen happened and now I get to make a living off comedy. But then, yeah, you definitely have focus on other things to talk about. [Laughs] The failure part still exists in many other aspects. Maybe not career-wise so much right now, but I would say in romance and general functioning within society – I can still drop the ball on that stuff pretty well.
There are always new ways to fail, I guess.
There are! There are always new ways to fail.
But you were working a day job until pretty recently, right?
Yeah, I always had, I think, a healthy fear of being broke. I mean, I was always broke, but at least with a day job I always knew exactly how little money I was going to make each week and could plan accordingly. Whereas with comedy the big fear was you maybe make a decent amount this week but then for three weeks you don't. It's feast or famine. It's kind of like working like a freelancer in that sense, and that's terrifying.
What were you doing right before you quit?
That, I was working in an office closed captioning television. That was a particularly insulting job. I mean, the job itself wasn't bad – you just sat there and watched TV all day. But to be in LA surrounded by people hoping to write their own TV show and being forced to type out somebody else's TV show – which is ultimately, of course, much worse than [your friends'] idea.
What about when you were in Chicago? What kind of jobs were you doing?
Oh man, Chicago. I was delivering pizzas and driving forklifts. A lot of menial tasks. My whole approach was “I'll beat myself up physically, but don't give me anything mentally stressful. Let me listen to music, let me write jokes while I work.” That was always my requirement: “You can have my body, but don't take my mind. Don't make me concentrate on something.”
What was it that prompted you to move from Chicago?
I mean, you get to a point where it's like you can start working the road from Chicago, without any TV credits or anything. You're just doing the one-nighters and outlying bars and hoping to advance through the ranks there. Or you put all your eggs in one basket and move to New York or LA and then hope to get your stuff seen in town and then get a TV credit and then go out on the road, which obviously that's the route I took. I think they're both great places. And, you know, there's the weather. I know it's a cliché, but it's true. I like New York, but it seems like you never get to be alone. Even when you're in your house you still have five roommates because of how expensive it is.
Just based on the tenor of your act, did you have any particularly defeating experiences in Chicago where you were like, “I'm fed up and I really want to get out of here”?
No, I mean, I was never fed up with the city, so to speak. My whole thing was that I lived at home. I lived with my folks, so I was moving out of my folks' house, and I was like “Well, I'm either going to move 20 miles east and move into the city and spend all my disposable income on rent and everything just to live a half-hour closer and do what I was doing anyway. Or I could just pick up and leave.” So that's what I went for.
How did you get started with comedy originally here in Chicago?
I had always been playing in bands, and maybe it was like an attention thing. I realize looking back I was – I probably still am – incredibly obnoxious, but I like to think I've mellowed out a little bit.