Live Review: Kyle Kinane, Proud, Camden

I had a quick google of LA-based Kyle Kinane before his London gig and saw that a 2008 description of him as “bleak and misanthropic” had stuck. Some further research revealed that the quote came from a review written by me when he was part of a visiting American stand-up package tour. I’d like to qualify that quote now. Kinane is still bleak, occasionally misanthropic but mainly very, very funny.

He is not the most assertive of comics though. The gig started with an apology “I travelled across an ocean to work some jokes out.” But if this was a try-out he looked in pretty fine fettle. As, incidentally, did his pre-hipster beard. The picture on this page doesn’t do it justice. His facial topiary is as manicured as a well-tended, prize-winning hedge.

There was no need to say sorry about his end-is-nigh schtick. He is not as cynical as Louis CK, not as irritable as Bill Burr, but has his own nihilistic niche. Stories and gags – some actually quite amiable – soon started to tumble out as he gathered momentum. Kinane is now forty so naturally there was the obligatory observation about physical decay. Soup had recently started to come out of his nose. It was as if after all these years his body had got bored and had started to improvise.

Elsewhere he explained that he was “too dumb to be depressed.” But this was disingenuous. Behind the laid back drawl there was a sharp mind grafting away. And he was surprising too. You might expect him to condemn gentrification, but instead he condemned the people who condemn it and are nostalgic for the crack houses that have now been priced out of the area.

His best routine by a country mile, however, was a lengthy dissection of the dietary habits of the Ku Klux Klan. How did they keep their pointy outfits so sparkling white, he wondered, when he can’t keep food off his t-shirt for five minutes? And what do they do if they like foreign cuisine? Where do they go to buy it? It was a stand-out riff that built up a real head of steam. 

His material on racism at airports, the correct use of sage and psychics was also instantly appealing. He ended on a favourite fart story that maybe he found funnier than some of the audience, but, hey, if it makes him smile and feel less bleak and misanthropic, I think we can allow that. 

Kyle Kinane is at Proud Camden tonight, July 26. Tickets here.

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