With his lumberjack beard, forearm tattoo and affinity for earth tones, Kyle Kinane looks like the kind of a guy who you'd find sipping a pint of limited-edition IPA. But the 38-year-old stand-up comic is pretty much whatever the opposite of that guy is, which is to say he only looks like someone who takes himself seriously. In fact, as fans of his stand-up can attest, Kyle Kinane’s favorite thing to make fun of is Kyle Kinane.
Even if you’ve never heard of him, you've heard his voice as the gravelly announcer for Comedy Central—he's the guy who says things like “up next, on 'South Park'.” Kinane’s latest stand-up special, I Liked His Old Stuff Better is a hilarious mediation on the frustrations of modern American life. But for all his gripes, Kinane—who grew up in the "quintessential suburbs" of Chicago—is an optimist, like a guy who could be an asshole, but he's trying to be just a little bit better than that.
Maxim spoke with Kinane about Trevor Noah, his hatred for United Airlines, extreme sports and Twitter controversies (which is something he knows a lot about).
How did you get your gig doing voice work for Comedy Central?
They asked me plain and simple. I wish there was some magical Hollywood story but they just knew me from stand up and said hey do you want to come in and read these promos and I was like, “alright, it sounds silly but I’ll do it.” Then I found out how much they were going to pay me for it so I realized I had to take that job a lot more serious. It feels like I’m robbing a bank.
So when you’re not doing that, or you’re not on tour, what do you do on a day like today, besides talk to me?
All I’ve done basically is try to live the life I wanted to have when I was sixteen, so that’s what I do. I might go play drums or go on a pretty radical – look, I say this with no sarcasm at all - a pretty radical mountain bike ride. Yeah I’m going to go out there and get extreme, I’m pretty known for how extreme I am in my athletic ability and musical ability so I’m going to do a lot of stuff that I’m bad at but really enjoy doing and I’m going to go to a baseball game tonight with my girlfriend, to reward myself for the effort I’ve put in today.
Mountain biking - is that about as extreme as you get?
Yeah it’s pretty extreme. I got poison oak real bad one time. And I have skateboards, but I can’t really do that anymore. And a BMX bike, but I can’t do that anymore. But I can go fall down the mountain, because I let gravity do most of the work.
You recently started an anti-United Airlines Twitter handle. What’s the beef?
Oh yeah, man, fuck that whole company. They should be out of business. I would like to use this Maxim interview to make sure nobody, given a choice, flies United Airlines.
You also appear to have a lot of opinions about craft beer. What’s going on with that?
Oh man, you want to press all these buttons, don’t you? Like, a 22-year-old getting duped into thinking that shit tastes good, pretending to be an adult - shut the fuck up! I’m sure some people really get it, but it’s like jazz music. The amount of people who say they really like jazz verses those who actually understand what they’re listening to, that’s a large difference. And, yeah, it doesn’t taste good to me. The fact that it’s like Christianity where as soon as you say you don’t like it somebody just wants to prove you wrong – look, let me like my shit beer. Good for you that you are so straight and male and white that that’s your argument in the world, that corporate beer is not up to snuff!
So what is your beer?
I bought an 18-pack of Budweiser yesterday. I was a little too hung over to drink any of it. If I’m drinking beer I’m drinking several of them, and you give me something that I can’t even see through, that’s going to taste like soy sauce somebody poured out of a boot, then I’m going to be done and I’m not going to want to drink anything else.
You’re stand up special is coming out on vinyl next week. What’s the market like for standup vinyl these days?
Some people are getting into it.
What comedians did you follow growing up?
I mean Gallagher was hilarious when I was ten. I know I’m supposed to say, “Oh, Bill Hicks. He changed my life.” But I was eleven and I wasn’t angry. I didn’t know that religion was evil because I was eleven and I didn’t care. He just seemed like an angry man with adult problems. Gallagher smashed watermelons.
What about current comedians, anyone that you follow pretty closely?
Sean Patton is probably the best working comedian right now. I’m happy to call him a friend. I don’t know anyone who has more charm and excitement and uses that to talk about things like how he hopes that if his girlfriend leaves him her new boyfriend has a nice penis. And saying that doesn’t give it any service at all until you realize how thoughtful and loving the description is. It’s not out of jealousy but caring for someone so much that you hope that they deserve something nice even if it’s not with you. Even though it’s a 12-15 minute long dick joke, it’s a dick joke with more heart than most comedians have when they’re talking about love.
As a Comedy Central employee, what do you think about Trevor Noah taking over for Jon Stewart?
Guy Branum, a fantastic comedian, wrote a really great piece about that. You can’t fail by yourself with comedy; you can’t learn comedy alone; you have to go up in front of an audience. Today, what would be a bad joke told at an open night is now on Twitter. People just want to be offended. I want GG Allin to still be alive to let people know what offense really is. As a comedian you fuck up, you miss steps; that’s the learning of comedy. Comedy is one of those things you have to fail at in front of strangers otherwise you don’t know, and that’s what Trevor Noah did. You need to let comedians fail, and now everything is considered to be a permanent belief because they put it on Twitter, like it’s a fucking tablet and not somebody laying around with their phone going here’s a joke. Anybody calling for firing him, it’s not for them. Go out in the world and find out what true offense really is. Everybody is a goddamn Faberge egg and the world is a bowling alley. So fucking tough out there.