For more than 20 years now, Kyle Kinane has shuffled all over the world, telling his stories to anyone who will listen. He’s opened for people like Patton Oswalt and Daniel Tosh, appeared on myriad television shows and even more podcasts, spent several years as the voice of Comedy Central’s on-air announcements, and has released five stunning albums of stand-up comedy. As far as the good things in life go, it could certainly be much worse.
“I can’t believe this is my job,” he tells Good Libations groggily on an early morning phone call from his home in suburban Portland. “It’s great, and I have to be very respectful of it, because maybe next year nobody gives a shit about my stories.”
An unlikely scenario, that. Owing to his gift for storytelling and his progressive, easygoing swagger, Kinane will no doubt continue to find plenty of hilarious new avenues for bringing his stories to growing crowds at comedy clubs, theaters, and festivals all over the globe. But on this morning, he graciously gave us a thoughtful peek into his process.
Tip #1: Location, location, location
“I like sitting in airport bars. I have to travel anyway, so those are good places to eavesdrop on people. I love eavesdropping. It's not a good quality, but I love it. It’s calorie-free drama that ain’t got nothing to do with me. I like getting these glimpses into someone else’s life. Out of context phrases can be the most fun things to hear.
Bars are always an easy one, because people have had a few drinks. Any time strangers are forced to talk to each other is a great scenario. You get to see who is trying to put their best foot forward and who is full of shit.”
Tip #2: Find joy in the unexpected
“I used to approach life almost like a journalist on an assignment nobody asked for. Now, I still like to say yes, but I don’t have to put myself in crazy situations. It’s like, my neighbor is a real weirdo, wanna go hang out in his garage? Yeah, OK.
What’s fun about comedy is that you can choose which details you share. Crazy situations can be fun, especially when you’re young, but I feel like, as a comedian, if you’re still doing those stories years later, it’s a little more depressing than fun. Hopefully you can be a good enough storyteller to get the same laughs out of any situation.”
Tip #3: Use your imagination
“You can concoct a story out of just about anything. It’s not so much judging someone as trying to guess what their thought process is. Now that I live in the suburbs, I watch somebody mow the lawn and it’s like, ‘Maybe this guy just wants to be out of the house because he’s got a teenage son who’s trying to learn drums and this is how he’s going to combat against that, like, well, I can make noise too, check it out! And now it’s just this entire household slowly losing its hearing out of passive aggressiveness.’
I love that kind of stuff that relies more on creative interpretation of what’s going on, but it’s also nice that it’s a scenario where I didn’t have to put myself in harm’s way.”
Kyle Kinane’s latest album is called Trampoline in a Ditch. He records a podcast with Dave Stone called The Boogie Monster. Visit KyleKinane.com for his latest tour dates. When he comes to your town, buy some tickets and tell him Tip Top sent you.