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The newbies

Think accounting is hard? Try standup



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The pros

It's not all giggles and rubber chickens



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The vets

These are not the ravings of a lunatic



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Profile: Ryan Vaughn, adjunct professor

“Comedy is more than just punch lines. There’s a cultural significance to it.”



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Profile: Matt Ritter '01

“Stage has always been my comfort zone.”



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Profile: Jen Kwok '04

“I’m lucky because I’m starting to make a living at it, three or four years into my career.”



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Profile: Aaron Gold '10

“I try to take bad things that happened to me and turn them into comedy.”



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Profile: Adam Hunter

“Literally, my job is to say whatever I want.”



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Profile: Avi Liberman ’93

“Everybody has off nights, but when it’s working, it’s a great feeling.”



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Profile: Paul Morrissey ’96

“I basically kind of failed upwards.”



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Profile: Andy Kindler '78

“When I’m elderly, please come see me when I’m playing the condo circuit in Florida.”



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Profile: Paul Reiser ’77

“I know what really good comedy should sound like now. I’m tougher on myself.”



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Return to the first page of the Cover Story.



Profile: Andy Kindler '78

“When I’m elderly, please come see me when I’m playing the condo circuit in Florida.”

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Boston Comedy Festival
Andy Kindler suffered his most embarrassing moment at 8 years old. He was playing left field at summer camp and completely whiffed on a popup. His defense mechanism against embarrassment is similar to that of an opossum’s against predators: he pretended the ball hit him and flattened him out. “I literally stayed down like I was knocked out until they carried me off the field. And then they gave me a round of applause.”

Andy Kindler ’78 is a comic’s comic. He used to be a critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, is a correspondent on The Late Show with David Letterman and was a judge on Last Comic Standing.

But it’s his irreverence for the industry that gains him the most notoriety.

For the past 16 years at Montreal’s Just for Laughs comedy festival, he has given the State of the Industry address in which he tackles a comedian taboo — skewering fellow comics, especially Dane Cook and Jay Leno (“What's it going to take to get people to stop watching Jay Leno?” he asks.)

Of course, the easiest way to get ahead probably isn’t ripping on the big guys.

“I go after Jay Leno in my act,” Kindler says. “One of the unwritten rules of comedy is comics can do jokes about Lindsey Lohan all day, but if you start joking about another comic, it’s out of bounds. In the State of the Industry, I basically say what I think is wrong in comedy and show business.”

Kindler started doing standup a few years after earning a degree in English literature in 1978. He had gone to California to be a singer/songwriter/guitarist, but “there were only about 16 million of those,” so he worked day jobs, such as selling door-to-door and delivering The Los Angeles Times. While working at a stereo store, a coworker suggested he try standup. For the next two years, the two performed as Andy and Bill.

“I was scared to death when I started,” he says. “It was very frightening. But you get more and more used to it. Now, it’s the most fun I can have, except you never know how the crowd is going to react to you. Now I feel very natural onstage. I’m just trying to be the person onstage that I am offstage. It really is an incredible high.”

Even though Kindler’s been working standup for 26 years, he says he’s still learning. Just a few years ago, he had a breakthrough that has allowed him to become even more comfortable onstage. Now, whatever comes into his mind comes out of his mouth, and that helps draw the crowd into the act. And, he points out, being onstage is one of the rare places in show business where being older isn’t a negative.

“I think you can start at any age,” he says. “It’s not like you’re being evaluated by your youthful good looks. Letterman is 64, and he’s hilarious. George Burns was funny when he was 90. I guess I’m just defending the fact that I’m getting old, and I’m trying to say, ‘when I’m elderly, please come see me when I’m playing the condo circuit in Florida.’”

More at: http://www.andykindler.com/