Kyle Kinane’s new one-hour special Loose in Chicago premieres tomorrow night at midnight on Comedy Central. It captures a comedian totally in his element, unguarded, opinionated, and a little strange. He saunters through a wide range of topics including the Westboro Baptist Church, werewolves, and his personal experience with gout. I talked to Kinane about the new special, conspiracy theories, and why it feels good to get booed in your hometown.
Your special is called Loose in Chicago, which is a good description. You’re doing a lot of longer-form jokes with great tangents. A lot of your stuff is in the vein of storytelling, but this special felt especially intimate.
Some people have a title in mind before they even record anything. I didn’t have a title for a while. You get to a point where you’re practicing for something, rehearsing over and over again, and you just over cook the material. You get on stage and you’re like, “I don’t want to say this anymore.” I’m not a very natural improviser so the only way to escape that is to take the material that I have and be a little more relaxed with it, which is the “loose” part of it. At the time that I was taping the special I was like, “I hate these jokes.” That’s not a good way to sell this thing. I like the jokes, but I’ve been practicing them for so long it was feeling stale to me. The only way to have fun delivering it is to relax with the pace and the order and not be so rigid.
You started out the special on a very sincere note, saying that it meant a lot to you to be recording the show in Chicago. At the end you have a very humbled moment where you expressed appreciation for the opportunity to perform for a living. Do you feel like you’re getting soft in your old age?
I don’t think I was ever that cynical to begin with. If it was perceived that way…I don’t know. I thought I was just a realist. I think I can be more honest. That’s the whole thing right now: honesty in comedy. It’s been that way for a while. Some people mistake the fact that just because you’re up there being honest about terrible things, that makes it comedy. You still have to have a joke. You can’t say, “Anyway, I was molested as a child.” You really need a punch line. So many comedy shows just sound like pretty funny AAA meetings. But I’m afforded that. I’m established now and I have a better relationship with performing. People know who I am and I can be a little more personal onstage. You’re kind of walking into a party where you know everybody. So yeah, I can be a little more open with these conversations that I have.
I think people think they know who you are, but this special shows a little bit of a different side of you that people might not have seen in some of your earlier work.
I’m glad it’s taken me this far, but I don’t want to just play that audience. A lot of comedians get their head up their ass a little bit and they’re doing jokes to an audience that’s predisposed to enjoy their jokes. They’re making points and they’re getting clapter: clapping that’s not laughter. It’s just people going, “That’s a good point. We agree with you.” That’s not comedy. That’s a room of people agreeing with you. I don’t want to just court that. Don’t get me wrong, I love that people are excited about the show. But I’ve been having a lot more fun trying to push back against what’s expected of me. There’s one part where I talk about being open-minded and then I talk about putting ketchup on a hot dog. I’m very proud of that moment because I got booed in my hometown. That’s the exact result I wanted from that. I’m not a politician. I don’t need to win votes. Let’s have a back and forth here.
You got into some political stuff in the special, like gay marriage and gun laws. Do you consider yourself a political person?
Well, I also talked about how I’m getting even weirder these days. I’m getting way more into conspiracy theories right now. With the current election…the debates came on the other night and I deleted Twitter from my phone. I don’t need to know what every comedian…like a comedian has a joke about Trump? Thank God, another one! I don’t like the guy either, but who are you telling on Twitter? Your liberal open-minded followers? Why not, for the sake of argument, try to see both sides of it? Personally I think we’re voting for a mascot and mascots don’t run the amusement park. I have a problem with comedians who complain about stuff but don’t offer solutions. They’re just standing up there bitching. You have so many complaints, but where’s the solution? All these comedians are telling people who to vote for. I know these comedians and all of them - myself included - are comedians because their life is in fucking shambles. But as soon as the election rolls around everybody is a political authority. These are people who can’t pay their cell phone bills on time, but they know what’s best for the country and the economy. Comedian John Roy said that if you can make a joke from the opposite side of the political spectrum, when you can make me laugh at something I don’t even believe in, that’s good comedy.
I want to address the conspiracy theory thing.
Oh yeah. Buddy. We’ve only got twenty minutes so I don’t know how much of this you want to get into.
You have some interesting theories in your special about how the moon works. You also just started a podcast with Dave stone called The Boogie Monster where are you get into the supernatural and unknown. Has your interest in this stuff been there all along and you just now got the balls to start talking about it in public?
A friend of mine said, “You know you’re doing alright in life if these are the things that you’re concerned about.” These are the problems of someone who doesn’t have problems. If I can sit and daydream about aliens that means everything else is going swimmingly. The original title of the special was going to be called Terrestrial Woes. We’re worried about these earthen problems, but what about aliens? It would have been a much more artistic title, but I wanted to get Chicago in there somewhere. I could sit around and occupy my mind with how terrible things are in the world right now and it would totally consume me. I open my news app every morning expecting a tragedy. It sounds terrible, but it’s willful ignorance. It’s escapism. But it’s no more escapism than people who are really into movies, or grown men who watch professional wrestling and read comic books. Kyle Kinane wants to go look for UFOs and I’m the weird one? Okay, sure.