Andy Kindler delivered his 23rd annual State of the Industry address at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival on Friday, bringing his tradition of roasting the biggest names in comedy (as well as himself) back for another round of schadenfreude and inside jokes.
Kindler took the stage a few minutes after Tiffany Haddish accepted the Comedy Person of the Year award on the same stage in a sparkly red evening gown — quite the contrast to Kindler hunching over the podium declaring, “Why am I leaning over like an old Jew? Because I finally am an old Jew!” Canadian comedian DeAnne Smith gave opening remarks, mostly to roast the comedian she looks up to (“Netflix is releasing 47 specials on the same day — and they still won’t give one to Andy!”) and to note that she makes up a comedy babushka doll with Hannah Gadbsy, Cameron Esposito, and Moshe Kasher.
Kindler’s speech covered a lot of ground, from the fall of Louis C.K., Gadsby’s Netflix special Nanette, CNN’s History of Comedy series, and Chris Hardwick returning to TV. Of course, he stopped periodically to complain about an empty section of seats in the room and what sounded like someone vacuuming repeatedly outside. After two decades of doing this address, he also joked that some people thought he should pass the torch, but “Nobody wants this torch!” Kindler roasting himself is as much a part of the tradition as his roasting of the industry, and the room full of comedian and industry types get in on it too. At one point, Kindler spotted Marc Maron in the back by the door and asked what he was doing. “I was just telling people that’s it’s all filled up in here!” Maron quipped.
Although there was a sense of defeat in this year’s address considering what’s going on politically back at home (“What’s the point of making a speech about how I don’t like Jimmy Fallon’s sketches if the entire world could be blown up any minute by Trump?” Kindler asked at one point), check out highlights from what he covered below.
“Chris Hardwick got his show back. Points!”
“When I first heard people were upset with Chris Hardwick, I thought it has to be his act,” Kindler said of the Talking Dead host who was alleged by his ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra of abuse. “Now we can all go back to tolerating Chris Hardwick like this never happened.”
“Kevin James got canceled, but not before he changed the game by rebooting just his wife.”
“That’s how it should work. Instead of the whole thing, let’s mix and match. I would watch Laverne and Hutch. Welcome Back Kramer. Everybody Loves Raymond’s Hilarious Friend Andy.”
“Maybe CNN should worry less about the history of comedy and more about not being the source of comedy.”
Kindler came back to CNN’s History of Comedy series a few times throughout the speech with gripes about their arbitrary categorization of comedy (“Skits and Shticks” and “Funny Dioramas and Whoopee Cushions,” he joked) and picking apart of classics (“All I wanted was the fart scene in Blazing Saddles to be analyzed”). On a meta note, he said, “How did they convince comics to go on and on explaining comedy? I’m surprised they would do it!”
“Jeremy Piven is back doing stand-up. Well, I’m not sure if he’s doing stand-up or if he just alienated a whole improv troupe.”
“Maybe stand-up was all that came up in his ‘jobs with no co-workers’ search,” Kindler said of Piven, who was also accused of “sexual mischief,” in his words. “I certainly hope it doesn’t affect his likability.”
“People who listen to podcasts love to have food delivered to their house uncooked in a box.”
Kindler got a big laugh when touching on the repetitiveness of comedy podcast advertising from companies like Blue Apron, MailChimp, and Squarespace. “They hate the post office. It makes them sick … [And they] love their websites clean — clean websites. They like them square and clean.”
“Roseanne said she was fired because she voted for Trump, and that’s not allowed in Hollywood. I wish Hollywood had a rule that good. It took 120 years to get to ‘You can’t grope people.’ ”
Touching on Roseanne’s reboot falling apart after her racist tweet, Kindler thought ahead to what the future holds for her: “What is Roseanne gonna do now? Maybe she can get a job as a judge on America’s Got Racists. Maybe she can get a seat on the new Match Game: “I Thought the Bitch Was [Blank].” When the bit didn’t get a huge laugh, Kindler put it back to the audience: “No wonder why Trump took over — you people are sheep.”
“Louis C.K. wasn’t even the funniest comic in New York City. Dave Attell is 40 times funnier than Louis C.K. – sleeping.”
Although he prefaced it by saying his past material on critics doesn’t go over well and makes him look petty, Kindler spent several minutes on New Yorker editor Emily Nussbaum’s writing (“I wasn’t going to talk about her, I was just going to do what I always do: hold a grudge for the rest of my life”). His gripes included a review of Drunk History in which she called “Weird Al” Yankovic “semi-familiar” (“There isn’t a person on Earth who doesn’t know ‘Eat It!’”), her flowery language (“Someone got a master’s in poetry from New York University and can’t let it go”), and especially her referring to Louis C.K. as “the country’s best stand-up” before his abuse allegations were made public in November. “That’s not criticism, that’s hero worship.”
“[Louis C.K.] uses carrots and sticks. The carrots are, ‘Maybe if I hang around Louie another couple of months, he’ll give me something.’ The stick is his penis.”
Kindler took on Louis C.K. for several minutes, covering both his abuse of power and sexual misconduct as well as his approach to comedy, and crediting himself with being early on disliking him.
“I always had a problem with Louis based on my own pettiness, anger, and feelings of what might have been … Where were you when I was right based on my own troubles?”
“I always thought Louis had been funny, but he’s always been full of shit,” Kindler said before laying into C.K. some more, mocking his throwing out of material every year. “Why? I like doing my material … because I’m a comedian, not a guy who’s trying to prove he’s the world’s greatest performer.”
Adding that he suffers from OCD and worries constantly that he’s offended people he’s never met before, Kindler added, “I have never worried that I asked a woman if I could take out my penis and masturbate in a casual setting.” Maybe don’t use the word “dick,” Kindler also noted, in your apology about masturbating in front of women.
“I’d like to apologize to all the women I dated in my 20s for my wanted advances. Oh sure, they were consensual. But they weren’t good.”
“I’m a little mad that Hannah Gadsby stole my bit of quitting comedy during my act.”
Kindler joked that Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette cribbed from his own bits where he abandons a joke or even his career mid-set. He also questioned why there would be any critical backlash to the special.
“Why is there blowback? Because comedians can’t do their art history chunk now? She burned all of your good Van Gogh premises?”
“Or is it because there isn’t enough comedy in the special? That didn’t stop Netflix from giving Ricky Gervais 40 million dollars to come up with horrible ‘Caitlyn Jenner is a bad woman driver’ jokes,” he added, with an additional jab at Gervais: “All my favorite comics wear a headset and talk endlessly about hosting the Golden Globes.”
“Netflix keeps making comedy specials shorter and shorter. I’m waiting for ‘90 people who each make a funny noise’ special.”
Give it time, we’ll get there.
Listen to Kindler’s full speech below: