MONTREAL – Andy Kindler is a force; perhaps even The Force of which that nut Obi-Wan was always flapping his old man space gums about. Watching him perform… well, I hesitate to use the exhausting phrase “comedian’s comedian,” for fear of riddling this recap with disgusting triteness, but certainly Kindler works a crowd in what might best be described as the most accurate definition of a COMEDIAN. He doesn’t just fill the occupation – he embodies what Plato might have referred to as the idea of perfect comedian-ness, the conceptual model upon which all other performers are structured against.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Kindler’s yearly State of the Industry address (wherein he somewhat artfully complains about his allegedly low position in the world of stand-up whilst attacking fellow comedians he disapproves of) was delivered with the amount of perfection one can safely come to expect from a comedian of his caliber. Sure, he went after the usual targets – Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Dane Cook, Jay Leno, Kevin James, Eddie Izzard, Jay Leno – and wove in a good degree of self-deprecation to match the, er, deprecation applied to the comedians in his gun-sites, but the thing about Kindler is that the criticisms are levied well and usually delivered not without a wink and a smile. And the mutual understanding between audience and delivery boy (picture Kindler with a little hat on) exists to reinforce the jester’s freedom from offensive culpability.
It would be hard to pinpoint any particular theme or message for this year’s State of the Industry, although the title, Pontificating Against the Machine, would certainly provide accurate summation for the words delivered and the tone under which they came forth. The industry itself may be overstuffed with those who Kindler would consider pandering, unoriginal sellout sorts, but if our community keeps churning out great artists like Kindler and his ilk (including Paul F. Tompkins, who supplied a stellar intro with sporting his cool 70s ‘stache), then the machine is likely to be pontificated into submission.