The State of Andy Kindler

May 25, 2018

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Lara Smith


2018 Moontower Comedy Series

We are coming to the conclusion of our 2018 Moontower Comedy Festival coverage, so we thought we should close with a Moontower favorite: the beloved Andy Kindler. I have seen Andy Kindler each year that I’ve been to Moontower and it’s always a thrill-ride, so I was delighted to be a fly on the wall for his interview with Valerie Lopez. I was unsure whether the interview would be an engaging conversation or more thrill-ride (either way, I was game), but Kindler was quick to tell us he doesn’t like it when people are “always on.” What I believe you will hear and learn is that he is both, making for one thrilling conversation.

Kindler recalls his first comedic memory around the age of five, riding in a car with his family, when he mispronounced a billboard and it got a huge laugh. There it was, that warm feeling that so many comedians describe of the first time they learned the power of creating joy in age five. He recalls watching Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, Mary Tyler Moore, and Dick Van Dyke as a kid. He was not a fan of The Three Stooges, not necessarily because of the slapstick, but more due to the mean-spirited violence they used to elicit laughter. Remember this, because I think this says a lot, even to this day, about Andy Kindler’s comedic sensibilities.

While Kindler has confidence as a performer, having had manners and politeness drilled into him as a child, he still feels the desire for people to like him. Though he has long been self aware, you might be surprised to learn that he only recently began therapy for the first time in his life. It seems to have made him more aware of finding this balance between the desire to be liked and the desire to perform very honest, stream of consciousness comedy. Kindler says, “I want the audience to love me, but I don't want to be a clown for them. I want them to love me for what I'm doing on my own terms.” In the process of defining those terms, Kindler sometimes questions the tactics of other comedians.

“I want the audience to love me, but I don't want to be a clown for them. I want them to love me for what I'm doing on my own terms.” Andy Kindler
In the past year, Kindler has been in a rather high-profile Twitter battle with Ricky Gervais. Remember that comedic sensibility I mentioned before? Andy Kindler doesn’t consider mean-spirited comedy funny, but rather a crutch for someone who is not really a comic. Gervais’ most recent comedy special spends a large part of the time making jokes at the expense of the transgender community, to which he has seen quite a backlash. Kindler feels Gervais is just “trying to find the last group that you can mock, as opposed to just writing some material.” Now asking, “Who is Andy Kindler to say what is funny?” is like asking “Who is Anna Wintour to say what is fashion?” The industry has spoken, because Kindler has been doing The State of the Industry at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival for over twenty years.

Starting out performing in theater as a child all the way through college, and later becoming a musician, the groundwork was laid for Kindler to be a professional performer. Kindler’s comedy is so well written, yet so stream of consciousness, that it is very difficult to tell what is off-the-cuff and what is written material. He floats between both so seamlessly, using tricks of the trade to hide notes on stage. He admits that, for acting, where things are heavily scripted, he has struggled through his ADHD, to get lines down. With a huge IMDB list of credits, including the Showtime series I’m Dying Up Here and his recurring role as Mort on Bob’s Burgers, he has clearly found tricks to overcome that difficulty.

Our interview with Andy Kindler was such a fantastic experience, ranging from discussions of the state of comedy, math, therapy, all the way into philosophy. It should be no surprise that he also has his own podcast aptly named, Thought Spiral and if you happen to be in LA, go see his Particular Show. Now it’s time for you to go listen to Valerie's interview and see why we at Comedy Wham treasure Andy Kindler’s appearances each year at Moontower.

Andy Kindler