June 2, 2015 | by Jonathan Diener

Music was my main love for years, but as time progressed and things became oversaturated I began to gravitate toward comedy for my main source of entertainment.

A few years ago at the punk rock mecca known as The Fest in Gainesville, FL, I was told to watch a comedian named Kyle Kinane. It was in a small room packed with close to 200 people incredibly eager to watch him and laugh. I had no idea what to expect. A man walks out looking like he’d be in one the bands playing: button up shirt, tattoos, a beard, Vans shoes, beer in hand and a grizzled, raspy voice like he was screaming to crowds for years. I already liked him before his first joke, and after the set realized I may have found my new favorite comedian.

A year or two after witnessing such a cool, intimate event, I started to see Kyle popping up everywhere on Comedy Central. He began to frequent Drunk History, @midnight and I lost my shit when I saw his full one hour Comedy Central special. Not only was it awesome seeing a comedian I was familiar with, but his intro music on the special was a song from my friends, Cheap Girls, a band from Michigan. Affiliation to music aside, I, like so many people could relate to his brand of humor. Everything he said was raw and reeked of the Midwest. Turns out he’s a Chicago dude, which explained his blue collar, down to earth style. It was self-deprecating and weird and almost too perfect for a crowd of aging, bitter punk rockers.

The converging worlds of music and comedy helped us connect through social media and we were talking off and on. I’d watch his comedy, he’d read my rambling music blogs. When I saw he was coming to town I figured it’d be cool to catch a set after all his success and see how it translates. One thing that had my interest was him doing a show in a music venue that my band has played for years, The Crofoot. It reminded me of Patton Oswalt’s The Comedians Of Comedy Tour years back, which only played music venues and catered to a show-going subculture. Kyle was somehow even funnier than he already was and the crowd seemed more diverse, but still felt like I was at a punk show. I saw hoodies and back patches and beards and glasses and felt right at home. After the show I assumed we’d talk for a second then we’d head home, but I had no idea how much we had to talk about. I believe the quote, “Keep talking about music. I don’t want to talk about movies and I don’t know anything about sports,“ was the best thing I would hear all night.

Kyle, the local openers and his longtime friend/comic, Nate Craig and my friends all went to a bar to hang out for a while. The drinks kept coming, lots of fried food was ordered and we started talking over the TouchTunes jukebox from my girlfriend’s phone. The conversation about parallels between music and comedy kept coming up, which is one of my favorite things to talk about: People traveling to a new town everyday, playing onstage for 30 minutes to an hour and then hanging out with the crowd after the show. I also realized opening comedians were just like local bands, wide-eyed and looking for advice and opportunities. We noticed the people at the table were giving him the 20 Questions treatment when Kyle would just break the conversation to come talk to me about music. He was in the Chicago music scene for years, we had a ton of mutual friends and he started spouting out some sage-like advice.

Kyle has been a comedian for 16 years and has only had a real career in it for five of them. He was working his ass off for years and finally caught a break. It wasn’t an overnight success story; he’s still like everyone else, hustling and trying to move up the food chain, get recognized and more than anything get a regular paycheck. The more he told stories of crazy tour experiences or run-ins with people, the more made me remember how much I love the entertainment business. You sacrifice a normal life and sanity to travel around and make other people laugh or bang their heads or feel something and connect, and it’s all worth it in the end. Kyle is getting to live his dream and under the tough, usually drunk, exterior, he’s a happy, fulfilled and motivational person. I am a decade younger and felt like I put my foot in my mouth when I started complaining about finding my place in the world. I was told to pursue whatever I wanted to do and the hard work pays off.

Pop bands can play flavor of the week music and sell out arenas within two years of their existence just like watered-down, gimmick comedians can become celebrities overnight. Sure the money is there, but why would you ever want to cater to that fan base? The long haul is the fulfilling one. People can relate to reality and you can build a lifetime of a career by truly being yourself. Watching him pound beers, shots and buffalo wings and still say some accidentally profound things just made me realize that I’m talking to someone real and inspiring. He’s just a truly good person and the new brand of music-infused, real comedians are starting to get noticed, and it’s the best. He realizes the struggle and embraces it and uses it as material, just like I and so many people do with our music. Kyle Kinane is the punk’s comedian and I hope everyone starts paying attention.

Watch/buy Kyle’s Comedy Central Special I Liked His Old Stuff Better

Pick up the album (yes, he has an LP) right here.

Tour Dates and more info here. 

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