Comedy veteran and New York native, Andy Kindler, has appeared on the HBO Young Comedians Special, Late Night with Conan O’Brian, The Daily Show, Dr. Katz Professional Therapist, Home Movies, The Larry Sanders Show, and is often recognized for his character Andy on the CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. He is also a frequent guest and correspondent for The Late Show with David Letterman.
Kindler recently performed at the Moontower Comedy and Oddity festival in Austin, TX, and I was able to catch one of his performances, which turned out to be my favorite show of the fest. Hosted by the legendary Dom Irrera, the showcase featured Bil Dwyer, Lucas Bros, Marc Maron and Judah Friedlander. Kindler killed, and his energy had the sold out club rolling.
I had a chance to sit down with the very friendly and very funny Kindler right before the festival got underway.
Describe your process for generating material.
Let’s see. I drink coffee. Actually (Kindler takes a sip of coffee) that was just an excuse for me to drink coffee, although, energy is good. For generating stand up material, as opposed to technical manuals, I really don’t sit down and write. I just wait for things to happen. Because most of the comedy is something that is bothering me on TV or is something that’s bothering me in the world. So it’s almost all interacting with the world, and then because I give a speech every year, or have been lucky enough to give a speech every year at Montreal, (Just For Laughs). I give a speech about what’s wrong with comedy, so that makes me have to focus, and that’s actually a good process. Then I write things down.
I’m not big on giving advice and stuff, but good advice for anyone who writes anything: anytime the idea comes to you, write it down, and you can’t judge it while you’re writing it down. For most people that’s the main mistake they make. They think about the idea and go “oh that wasn’t good” so they’re constantly editing when you need to separate your editing from your creating. So that’s one thing I’m pretty good about. I’m also trying to do more voice memos lately.
Are you your harshest critic?
The thing about stand up is, I’ve tried many different things in life, I was a singer-songwriter, and I can say honestly without being falsely humble I’m confident that when I come out with a joke I’m going to enjoy it, so I feel like I can do it. So I’m not a harsh critic that way. In other words, once I find the joke, if I like it, I like it. The critical stuff is more of how much stuff I’m coming up with.
You were on DR. KATZ…
Yeah that was one of the first things I did on TV.
How do you like TV? You were also on EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. How does that compare to doing stand up?
I would pick stand up over anything because I’ve been doing it enough years – I can tell the process of it is the most enjoyable of all the things. I can be a very harsh critic of my acting, not because I feel like I can’t act, but I feel when I go on auditions I’m very self- aware, so a lot of times if it’s going to be a part where people get it because the person commits to a thing, I usually don’t get that part. When I started stand up there were many years of a lot of pain. I have obsessive compulsive tendencies. So a lot of the time on stage I was thinking “oh what am I doing?” On stage I was really wrapped up in thinking about what I was doing on stage. That took years to get rid of.
What do you think about taking classes or going to school for comedy?
That’s a tough one, because you know, I was in a duo. We had a day job together selling stereos. So my school was doing a couple years with him (my friend). We signed up for open mics. I think it’s something that you can’t really be taught. I definitely am not against people who take classes, because it’s so scary to start, a lot of times at that beginning level you’re just performing for other people in the class. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, just don’t ascribe to anyone’s Svengali-like advice.
Who are your biggest comedic influences?
I was influenced by Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, David Letterman, I was a big sitcom fan so I knew about Bob Newhart’s sitcom before I knew about his stand up.
So I didn’t specifically follow stand ups, but then of course I knew about several, like George Carlin, and then later I got into Lenny Bruce. I also remember loving Richard Pryor as a kid, all the original Saturday Night Live people were great. David Letterman was a huge influence on me because he kind of took that Johnny Carson thing one step further in terms of he was able to make fun of the joke when it didn’t go well. Dave took it to the next level of “isn’t this ridiculous?” Everything is ridiculous, very funny. And the Albert Brooks and Woody Allen movies.