Montreal 2009: Andy Kindler’s State of the Industry

Show business loves patting itself on the back all of the time, and not just during awards season, but for the comedy industry, the past 14 or so years have included one day in which they all sit down in a room and agree to be roasted by one comedian: Andy Kindler. So it was again this afternoon in a conference room at the Hyatt Regency in Montreal. Today's "State of the Industry" address felt a little tamer, more subdued than the past couple of years. Was it the audience? Was it Andy? Was it the recession? Was it the microphone issues, blocking his face and getting great sound out of his shoulders? Probably the latter. Let's not launch an investigation into the matter.

But if you want to relive my interview with Andy Kindler immediately after 2008's State of the Industry, you can watch that here.

Marc Maron introduced Kindler. "I, like Andy, have absolutely nothing left to lose," Maron said. He reminded the comedians, agents, managers and executives in the room that they ask for this year after year, "and minutes after leaving this room, convince yourself that this has nothing to do with you." He noted how being on the road with Kindler "is like traveling with the history of the Jewish people," and gave us all his "popcorn analogy for the comedy industry." In short, Maron observed that every time you make popcorn, you wind up with kernels at the bottom of the bowl/bag. "You know why they don't pop? Because they have integrity!"

Well played, sir.

As for Kindler, he spent the first few minutes worrying about the microphones — his manager, Bruce Smith, interrupted him to note "the microphone is blocking your face" — and the podium's inability to serve the primary functions of a podium. "Am I getting Punk'd, or is that too old a reference? Am I getting Punk'd 2.0?"

He let the ShamWow guy have it, as well as TMZ and "this horrible Harvey Levin," and 10 minutes later, observed, "Every other person is not into this speech at all!"

On being back at Just For Laughs with Maron: "We can't wait to get into the Past Masters (show)…Master-Disiacs!"

"Claude Monet, before he'd start a painting, he'd ask the audience, do you like impressionism?"

"I just got cast in a show called Over The Hills…did anyone do that joke already? if so, please send me a note…I just got cast in a show called Forest Hills." 

To the audience: "It has to be industry-related or something I saw on TV. Those are the rules of the speech." "I'm not infallible. Get off my back!" "Why do people seem stunned after every joke?"
"This year, I'm going to ridicule things I'm not that familiar with…I don't often have time to see everything."

"Does that make me the bad guy, as Carlos Mencia says after every joke. Does that make me the racist guy because I said the racist thing? Oh, I'm the racist guy!?"

On the recession, and people not getting paid, finding tough times: "Now you know how stand-up comedians feel every day." He had his own show ideas, including Everybody Feels Sorry For Raymond, in which Ray loses his newspaper job, and all he can find is free blogging work, which leads him into an argument with Arianna Huffington. "Which is what we call stunt casting!"

"Folks, Howie Mandel made $12 million last year, according to Forbes' list of horrible entertainers…Is anyone looking into this? Is there an investigation!? I dont even know if that's counting Howie Do It!" 

On Ryan Seacrest getting $45 million for Idol: "FOX also just signed milquetoast to a holding deal."

"I have not seen a second of Tyler Perry, but I know he's horrible…My rule is, if you're dressed up as a woman, that's it." 

"I just got a call from Obama. I was named Secretary of Funny. My first act will be to recall Larry the Cable Guy. I'm going to call for an immediate moratorium on song parodies…there'll be a 20 percent across the board cutback in shock comedy…anyone using the word retard will be fined…no more
higher tariffs on overseas props. Buy American, Carrot Top!"

On William Morris and Endeavor merging, he noted it's perfect: "Endeavor is bringing…it's high-class poaching techniques…William Morris is going to bring its not caring for the past 50 years."

"This year, I toured the country as Andy Semetic. I got the wrong crowds!"

On Dane Cook getting buff, "doing the Joe Piscopo, Carrot Top brand of comedy…Maybe my comedy needs to be more muscular?" He also jumped from a trade piece on Cook's handlers to imagine how they're putting him in all sorts of other entertainment formats, "because movies didn't work," including a CSI, morning show, cooking show, TV weatherman, and Two and a Half Men Plus Dane Cook.

"You can't yell fire in a crowded theater, but you can yell 'Fire in a crowded theater!'…You can yell fire at any screening of Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Because any people who see that movie deserve to be trampled to death…Kevin James, attached to a motorized wheelchair, does it get any funnier than that?" 

"I was the first comic to ask, 'Am I right, ladies?' Previous to that, comics didn't care if the ladies thought he was correct. I was the first comedian to ask what the name of the city's gay club was…or find out the town nearby that every comedian mocks. The first to ask what part of the chicken the McNugget comes from…There's a lot of money in catchphrases. I executive produced Crackberry. That was mine. I co-created 'Don't go there.' I have back end on 'My bad.'"

On the Farrelly Brothers remaking The Three Stooges: "When I heard that, I couldn't keep anything down for a day or two." "They're going to ruin our memories of everything we loved as a kid." "Was there something that The Three Stooges left unsaid?" 

"Before I went into comedy, I was in the deconstruction business." 

On a guy quoted as wondering if Carrot Top "could sustain" a career: "I'm pretty sure there's an infinite amount of one object…that can be combined with another object…to form a third object."

He offered several alternate titles for NBC's I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! including …Am I Completely Out of Options? …This Doesn't Seem Right? …Who Died And Was Unable To Prevent Me From Making These Horrible Choices?

"Facebook is a way to reconnect with people you've been trying to avoid for 15 years." "This is a message I don't need to read on Facebook: 'Are you still doing comedy?'" 

Instead of Twitter, he has Fritter, so you can type what you could have been doing instead of frittering away your life.

On Jay Leno: "I thought 'unmanned drone' was Jay Leno at a corporate gig…I mean, he's really not there emotionally." On Leno's free stimulus shows for unemployed people: "Aren't people suffering enough?" "Is he giving us any of that Tonight Show money that he's never spent?" "Will he be able to be as edgy at 10 p.m. as he was at 11:35? Will he have that jazzy, late-night feel, that subversive devil-may-care attitude? Will people be able to get JayWalking at 10 p.m.?" On a trade piece suggesting that Leno's primetime show will be DVR-proofed because of its "topical humor": "What, jokes so weak, they'll be completely irrelevant tomorrow? I have got to see that in the moment!" Kindler quoted from Leno's actual promo ads for NBC, with him trying out material in Hermosa Beach, Calif. And he noted how NBC bragged about saving money by doing five nights of Leno instead of five dramas. "You know what would be even cheaper? Not making any shows at all. We're done! NBC is closed for the evening. Come back tomorrow at 9 a.m….come back for our extra five hours of the Today show…Just Al Roker saying, 'and here's what happening in your neck of the woods takes an hour and a half."

"This could be my last year doing this speech," Kindler said. Seriously? Who knows? "There's a lot of things I could say right now…in lieu of crying. I get the feeling a lot of people come in here thinking something else is going to happen….maybe I could get paid to stay home next year. Too real? Well, don't feel bad for me…The reason this is distressing to me is the build-up to the speech…Elon Gold saying, 'This is the only hour in my life that I laugh.'"

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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