MONTREAL – Each year at Just For Laughs, the comedy elite and its rabid base of devoted hangers on awaits with eager anticipation for the zings. Specifically, the zings born from the State of the Industry Address during the conference portion of the festival– ComedyPro, as it was dubbed this year. And those zings are delivered by the reliable anger-ball that is Andy Kindler.
Anyone familiar with Kindler’s caustic Yiddish-flavored barbs is aware the spice comes from rage-fueled take-downs that, at their base, are in fact (I think?) good-natured jabs at an industry that can perhaps sometimes take itself too seriously. (Ironic, ain’t it?)
Always a highlight of Just For Laughs, this year’s vitriol were directed at some of Kindler’s favorite targets, including Louis C.K.’s fashion choices (“the American Gervais”), Bill Maher (“he laughs before, during, and after each joke, and then all the way to the bank”), and Gallagher (“I have the ‘Is Gallagher Alive?’ app on my phone”). Intro’d by the mighty John Mulaney, Kindler began by
tearing in to ribbing JFL keynote speaker Colin Quinn (“I could finally understand what he was saying!”), before moving on to bigger targets, like Comcast and Vine. One of the speech’s most laugh-out-loud moments came when Kindler read aloud his tweets to the aforementioned cable juggernaut – seems that, no matter what he does, Comcast is still giving him Leno. Leno, Leno, Leno. You can probably guess how warmly the crowd received that news.
But perhaps the largest, most brutal slaying was delivered to Adam Carolla, a widely loathed symbol of comedy hack-dom at its hackiest. Carolla, as it turns out, is also in the midst of crowdsourcing $1 million from fans and other comedians so he can make a movie. Kindler apologized for appearing on Carolla’s podcast, and then dispensed the sharpest stake to the heart of zinging with this: “Adam Carolla is like Hitler if Hitler weren’t funny.” And before that, “he’s a bigot with a capital NAZI.” Ouch. (Or however you say “ouch” in German.) While no PC-impresario himself, Kindler betrayed genuine disgust with Carolla’s largely acknowledged racism and sexism, and it didn’t seem there was a single voice of dissent in the packed house. Compared to what Kindler thinks of Carolla, Leno and Kindler are practically bosom buddies.
As always, the State of the Industry leaves a lot of room for improvement, but ya know Kindler is just kidding when he dismisses it all as a steaming pile of shit. Except for Carolla. There’s no hope of redemption for Carolla. In closing, Kindler offered this nugget of divine truth: “If you’re a comedian and you’re not saying anything funny, you’re just a racist.”