One of the first major comedy specials of the year was released on Friday when Comedy Central debuted Kyle Kinane’s second hour special. Very tongue-in-cheek, Kyle Kinane released the special under the title, I Liked His Old Stuff Better. Every comedian has to find their voice, carve out a place for themselves. They spend years creating an hour, stacking up joke brick after joke brick until they’ve got something built they can proudly show off. Once that’s finished, they gotta knock it over, create new bricks and start building something new.
Kinane’s previous 2012 special (and second release, following the album Death of the Party) Whiskey Icarus is a personal favorite. Kinane is one of my favorite comedians, a popular opinion for sure. He’s a comic that I’m willing to travel for, and I did so not too long ago because (luckily for me) Kinane decided to film this special at the wonderful 40 Watt in Athens, GA. Just a skip and a jump from good ole Atlanta, GA, I spent one night in August in Athens witnessing one of the greatest stand-up shows I’ve ever witness, and I’ve been excitedly waiting to see the final product.
Naturally, the folks not fortunate enough to hear his set firsthand get an edited version of the show on TV. I strongly recommend downloading the uncut version of the special. You are missing out on a lot, nearly 30 bonus minutes of material beautifully directed by Lance Bangs. You’re missing out on unaired jokes, including anecdotes about watching homeless men play frisbee golf in a cemetery, and his coaster-using alcoholic former roommate. “F*ck my liver, this is teak dude!”
You are also missing out on select chapters of Kinane’s stories. Like Whiskey Icarus previously, ILHOSB is comprised of a few long form stories. Now, there’s a difference between a friend telling you a crazy story, and a comedian telling you a crazy story. However, there’s also a difference when a comedian telling you a crazy story, and Kinane telling you… A story. Kinane weaves tales that grab and firmly hold onto your attention with no intention of letting go. Tales include the bizarre, ranging from witnessing a police officer hit on a girl as he helps a coroner take away a stiff, to burning his laundry.
“That’s something that should have pissed me off, but I didn’t even know you could do that.”
But it’s not just the bizarre. Kinane can also have you howling with laughter with stories about buying gas station pistachios, and saying “God bless you” to a cat.
Being able to tell a ten to fifteen minute story, and keep it compelling all the way through, is no easy task. Kinane does it in fascinating style. Not only is each tale tag-ridden, but just the unique wording and sentence structure he meticulously crafts them in makes his act one-of-a kind. Kinane will stop to dissect minor accessories of a story, analyzing every piece that makes up the scenery of the tale.
In an effort to explain how he fell in his shower once, Kinane draws you deep, deep into the story, picking out details and taking off on a tangent that in of itself is a hilarious bit. Tangents from taking a moment to address the stigma of drinking in the shower, to laying out the details DJ Ghost Steve Job’s perfect playlist choices…
“… That’s the 160 gig model, 35,000 songs, I got about nine ex-roommate’s libraries on there, what can you do for me? Five Motorhead tunes then three Lionel Ritchie jams, sh*t! You’re gonna tell me that’s something called ‘random?’ Bullsh*t.”
From there we ponder the definition of love, and after two tales of some recent memorable dates, Kinane somehow brings it back around to his central focus and you realize, “Oh sh*t, we’re still on how he fell in the shower!” It’s a unique skill to leave a thought, then return to it after a few minutes without losing it’s power. This blue-collar philosopher is always taking the unexpected angles, with all of us gleefully along for wherever this f*cked up ride takes us. And he takes us to some dark places. Shadowy, fragile places Kinane playfully romps around in, closing with one very interesting story, a stark contrast to everything surrounding it like, “a chili pepper in the candy dish.” I’d go on, but I wouldn’t want to spoil one detail of it for you. I’ll just say, ILHOSB goes out with a deafening bang.
Kinane’s special shows why he is one of the best working comics. He earned every applause break and every maniacal laugh the permeated the 40 Watt. He’s in a class to himself. But back to this special’s name, “I Liked His Old Stuff Better.” What’s the verdict? Is Whiskey Icarus still one of my favorite albums? Of course. Who doesn’t love his tale of taking a cab to Wendys or his pancake-on-a-plane story, my God aren’t they f*cking great? It’s top shelf material, but that doesn’t diminish his new tales one bit. ILHOSB is now up on that shelf too. Where is it ranked compared to the former? Who cares. I’m tired of having to assign numbers to these trinkets that bring me joy. It’s a new hour, it’s its own beast.
But I’ll say, Kyle Kinane shouldn’t have any worries. His act is moving forward. He keeps surprising me, and that’s what I want from an artist. That night in Athens gave me everything I wanted from a show. I left the 40 Watt inspired and more in love with comedy than before.
I do recall capping off the night at the bar next door where I told a friend I thought this would be a frontrunner for “Album of the Year” for 2015. I know it’s very early but… I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s still the case eleven months from now.