Here I am, north of the border, where I’ll be reporting to you live, semi-live, and semi-awake for the next couple of days from Montreal, home to the 25th anniversary celebration of Just For Laughs, one of the biggest comedy confabs in the world. Lots going on already as the festival hits the homestretch tonight and Saturday.
But first, time for Andy Kindler to deliver his annual "State of the Industry" speech. It’s known throughout the comedy world as a must-see event, not only because Kindler is hilarious, but also because this is the one time each year that the industry allows one of its own to say all of the things that many comedians would like to see about the funny business but fear saying aloud.
As Dave Foley said in introducing Kindler to the stage shortly after 2 p.m. today, "It’s great that he comes out here and sabotages his career."
Quickly, the bullet-point highlights from Kindler’s speech…
On the Laugh Factory owner: "Jamie Masada, younger every year?"
On his own career: "I am ready to sell out…If I need to git-r-done, I’ll git-r-done!" His potential catchphrases? "Same-old, same-old!" "Smell ya later!"
On the Michael Richards incident from last year: "Where is Carlos Mencia’s apology? Where is Lisa Lampanelli’s letter of resignation? Where is Larry the Cable Guy’s mea culpa? If you believe in the power of threes…" (applause) He then imagined Henny Youngman having to issue lengthy apologies for all of his one-liners about his wife.
On Mencia’s stereotyping about his parents: "Margaret Cho thinks he should take it down a notch — Dat Phan called!"
On the film "Delta Farce," in which Larry the Cable Guy stars as a soldier in the Iraq war who ends up in Mexico, combining an unpopular war and immigration issues: "Who better to tastefully navigate these waters?"
On Imus: "I hated Imus before hating Imus was cool."
On the late-night TV show, "Comics Unleashed": "How about Comics Uncomfortable?" "Byron Allen is known as a comedy cooler."
On his book ideas: "If I Killed," kinda like the O.J. book, imagining Kindler having a great set in a mainstream comedy club, opening with local references, including a local gay bar that he doesn’t know is a gay bar. Or "The Comedy Secret," in which he tells you how to look in the mirror and say, "I am hilarious. I am hilarious." "Actually that’s how Dane Cook’s career got started."
He also ribbed Wayne Brady’s "improv" genius, the editing of his Comedy Central hosting gig for "Live at Gotham," the fact that he has to ask for residual payments from his HBO Young Comedians special now that it’s On Demand. "Even Bill Bellamy let it go!" But he added: "Judd Apatow tried to get writing credit for all the acts."
He ribbed "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," "The View," FOX News’ "Half-Hour News Hour" ("It’s about time they stuck it to the ACLU." And he noted that Dennis Miller has a segment. "It’s called Career Killer.")
He hit an awkward moment, though, just afterward by making fun of "Family Guy," which has a huge show in the festival this weekend.
But he kept going.
He ribbed the end of "King of Queens," the end of "Scrubs," and really went into "Last Comic Standing," a show that already has many comics taking sides. Kindler said the show "makes American Idol look like a Pulitzer Prize award committee." He ridiculed Ant for being on the show, and a judge on it, or celebrity talent scout. "Two of those three words don’t apply." Kindler read the intricate small-print rules about the contest that appear over the end credits. "If it was completely rigged, it would require a higher level of competence."
He suggested comedy clubs ban bachelorette parties, and wondered what other industry would make it OK to sell you on gigs that offered no or little pay in unlikely environments.
On current topics, he got in digs at "Evan Almighty," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," the fact that Robin Williams’ acting career hasn’t slowed down, the American version of "The Office," the upcoming "Cavemen" sitcom, Entertainment Weekly, and the show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader." "If you’re smarter than a fifth-grader, you’re probably not a Jeff Foxworthy fan."