For twenty years, Andy Kindler has been making hamburger of sacred cows with his State of the Industry Address at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. It’s the king of comedy festivals, and a bit of a party for stand-up comedians and anyone in the comedy business, and sometimes, Kindler winds up making fun of things people in the room have worked on. When I spoke with him recently, he said he tries to do it in the spirit of a roast, but there are some things that make him legitimately angry. He just released State of the Industry Address (Just For Laughs 1996) in digital formats, chronicling his first address. He had no idea then it would become a staple of the festival. He was just trying to build off the success of a “hack seminar” he’d done the previous year, teaching comedians how to reach peak mediocrity. There is genuine ire in there, for executives who wanted to make comedy “pretty,” or brand all black comedy “urban,” and anyone who wanted to turn comedy into anything less than the art that he loves.
In Episode 21 of the Department of Tangents Podcast, I spoke with Kindler about how the Address has evolved over the years, and some of the details about the 1996 inaugural edition. We also talked about his new gig hosting season four of Coming To the Stage, a stand-up showcase on Hulu, political comedy, and Kindler’s beginnings as a stand-up. I also learned that he started out as a musician before he was a comedian, and that he still writes. There may be a musical album somewhere in the future, though nothing is imminent. And if you’re interested in the show Kindler mentions at the end, it’s called Stand-Ups Give BAC, benefiting the Brooklyn Autism Center. The show is February 28 at Carolines on Broadway, and you can find more info at the BAC site.
After the conversation, stay tuned for a gorgeous Birds of Chicago song, “Remember Wild Horses,” from their latest album, Real Midnight. I spoke with Allison Russell and JT Nero, the husband and wife team at the center of the band, early in February before a gig at Cinema Salem, and they are next week’s Department of Tangents Podcast guests.
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