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Kyle Kinane brings anti-cynical comedy to the Carlson


Comedian Kyle Kinane. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Comedian Kyle Kinane.
During a recent Zoom chat, Portland, Oregon-based comedian Kyle Kinane had the look of a full-fledged hipster — complete with a full, well-groomed beard and a t-shirt that proclaimed “Dios es sabor."

But less than a minute into the conversation, Kinane made it clear he wasn’t interested in indulging in pretentiousness as a hipster in his line of work might.

“I'm a little burnt out on people thinking that comedians are philosophers,” Kinane said with a mischievous glint in his eye. “You give anybody free time and enough money to not worry about shit during that free time, they're a philosopher. It's not some higher level of societal analysis.”

Kinane, a mainstay of the comedy circuit since his Comedy Central debut in 2011, may have been selling himself short ahead of his performances at Comedy @ The Carlson from January 25 through 27.

He was quick to dismiss his work as silly and trivial, but his approach to standup is nuanced — empathetic even. He’s a skilled storyteller who tells self-effacing jokes that challenge himself and his audiences to be less judgmental.

In his latest comedy special “Shocks and Struts” from 2023, Kinane urged the crowd to be more appreciative of airplane pilots and less negative toward people who enjoy staying in hotels. “Let people like what they like,” he said.

That’s an attitude he also embraces on his podcast “No Accounting for Taste,” in which he attempts to defend things that would be easy to criticize — including cruises and the band Insane Clown Posse — with co-host and fellow comedian Shane Torres.

“The only way to guarantee being relevant is to stay curious about the world as it is growing," Kinane said. “Otherwise, you could say ‘everything's bullshit,’ and be that cynical guy pointing out how everything's wrong and you're right."

The comic proposed an alternative to that brand of close-mindedness.

‘I would rather maintain an audience of people goin’ like, ‘Oh, this guy's still figuring it out," he said. "'Hey, let's go watch Kyle figure it out tonight. Sometimes he's wrong. Sometimes he's right.’”

Despite the fact that Kinane's forthcoming special “Dirt Nap” is due this March, he’ll be working out even newer material during his run of performances at Comedy @ The Carlson.

He said doing stand-up is a trial-by-fire experience that’s impossible to practice ahead of time.

“I think a mark of a truly good comedian is they still don't know what's going to work or not work,” said Kinane. “No matter how far along you are, you don't know if something's funny until you're up in front of strangers.”

Kinane would still be doing standup, even if it wasn’t his career.

“The fact that it’s turned into income is wild," he said. "So now, I guess I’m a little married to it because I haven’t developed any other skills."

Kyle Kinane performs at Comedy @ The Carlson, 50 Carlson Road on January 25 at 7:30 p.m.  and January 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. $25-$35.

Daniel J. Kushner is an arts writer at CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].