Legend has it that while on the set of the 1941 horror classic, The Wolfman, Lon Chaney Jr.’s stunt double, “Big” Dally Kinane, said, “Rrrrrrrrrrr.” It seems fitting that the man who uttered that poignant phrase would, decades later, have a grandson climbing the ranks of comedy stardom. Career- wise, Kyle Kinane is at an all-time personal high and shows no signs of plateauing any time soon. We caught up with Kinane after he finished performing at the High Plains Comedy Festival in Denver.
Isaac KozeLL: How did the Have a Summah tour with Howard Kremer go?
Kyle Kinane: It was great. I never really hung out with Howard (Kremer) before but as it turns out, he’s one of the coolest guys around. We bought Bigfoot paraphernalia and got scammed by hill people together.
IK: Airport humor usually generates some serious groans from the audience but you seem to pull it off quite well. What’s your secret?
KK: It’s real. I’m in an airport several times a week. It’s workplace humor for me.
IK: On stage, you’ve referenced taking improv classes in college. Is that true and if so, how has improv influenced your standup?
KK: I took maybe two semesters of improv. It was something to pass the time for me, because I went to a liberal arts college and was pretty much rudderless the whole time. I just took whatever interested me. I never really applied anything to stand-up. I like the solitude of the whole thing still. I rarely if ever do crowd work.
IK: Let’s talk about mic work. You have a very distinct microphone holding style. It fits loosely in your left hand and has a ‘lil wobble action to it. I imagine it’s the way Bob Dole would hold a mic after a few drinks. Needless to say, it’s a sweet signature move. Is this something that has happened naturally, or is it a finely honed part of your craft?
KK: It’s like the guitar face. You don’t know you’re doing it. Over time, you find out what’s comfortable, I guess. I saw Henry Rollins roll the mic cord around his hand once and I thought that looked pretty cool. I did that for a little bit but it was a bit too aggressive for standup.
IK: What is your ideal room to perform to?
KK: UCB in Los Angeles is a great space, as is the Virgil. Anywhere the crowd knows why they’re there and is appreciative of what’s happening, though. I’ve done standup at pool parties and it’s been great, because the crowd makes it worth it.
IK: Your appearance on Drunk History is stuff of legend. Can you take us behind the scenes? How drunk were you?
KK: I drank a bottle of tequila. I don’t normally drink tequila, but it was a special occasion.
IK: What kind of liability is involved when a performer has to get drunk to do their job?
KK: Liability? Just gotta keep the wings on it until the show’s over, I guess.
IK: What is your drink of choice?
KK: Cheap beer. Not trying to be falsely blue collar. I truly like Budweiser. Maybe a scotch or whiskey here and there.
IK: You were involved in a pilot, TripTank, that was picked up by Comedy Central for eight episodes. What is the premise of the show and what role will you play?
KK: I don’t really know. It’s an amalgam of craziness and I do a few of the voices.
IK: I’m someone who is perpetually envious of definitively masculine traits, so I have to ask, what feedback do you get from people about the gruff quality of your voice?
KK: It came from going up onstage after sitting around for hours at open mics in Chicago drinking and smoking. Then it became this “thing,” a sound. I don’t wake up sounding like that. The day brings it out. The shouting over bands for years…
IK: Looking back at your career thus far, what would you consider to be your “big break?”
KK: Aspecialthing (AST Records) asking me to record an album for them and Patton Oswalt taking me on tour.
IK: I keep hearing a lot of respected comics refer to you as one of the current working greats. In your opinion, who would you consider to be some of the best in the game right now?
KK: Sean Patton, without a doubt. The man does something more than just stand-up…he makes it this collective experience for everyone. All these Denver guys. The Grawlix. I’ve said before, it’s scenes that are generating groups of great comics. Bloomington, Indiana. Portland, Oregon. Whole cities are shaping their comics, like how music used to do. Like how being from Seattle or Athens said something about you as a band, saying you’re from Atlanta or Minneapolis has that same clout.
IK: In Whiskey Icarus, you have a bit about comedy as an art form. What do you think comedy can achieve in terms of artistic merit?
KK: I think a lot of comics are trying to convey the same emotions any other artist is–it’s not always just silly for silly’s sake. That’s what I love about comedy happening outside of comedy clubs. An audience can experience a show in a more sincere form, instead of having Wackity Sax and a two-drink minimum cut into the relevance of what standup could be.
IK: Hear, hear. What are some upcoming projects of yours that we should keep an eye out for?
KK: I don’t remember.
Follow Kyle on Twitter @kylekinane