Andy Kindler of Bob’s Burgers opens up at Wiley’s

By Joey Ferber

Photo: Andy Kindler performs Saturday, April 8 at Wiley’s Comedy Joint; photo: Susan Maljan

Andy Kindler is a pioneer of the alternative comedy scene that emerged after the ’80s comedy boom collapsed, like the 2008 housing bubble. Inflated by homogenized jokes and promoters who valued the quick buck over artistic integrity, mainstream comedy at the time lacked originality. Kindler found himself in an undercurrent of comics crafting a brand of humor that embraced individuality and improvisation.

If you don’t know his stand-up, you may recognize him as Andy from Everybody Loves Raymond, or Mort from the cartoon Bob’s Burgers. Speaking with him before his April 8 show at Wiley’s, a return to Dayton for the quick-witted funnyman, feels as much like a private show as it does an interview.

“I haven’t been to Dayton since the ’80s. Why didn’t I get a rebooking?” Kindler asks. “I hope I’m staying in a hotel, because when I was there in 1987 I stayed in a comedy apartment. I’m sure I’m staying at the first class hotel… How many Ritz Carltons are there in Dayton, Ohio?”

Kindler’s sense of humor was off and running before greetings had subsided. After exchanging whereabouts and current lines of work, he notes that while he’s always been funny, being funny hasn’t always been his profession:

“I don’t want to brag but I went to Binghamton. Oh, you never heard of it? I mean Harvard…Yale…Columbia. I used to be a musician before I was a comedian. I was a singer-songwriter-guitarist when I came out to LA in the ’70s, and there were only 40 million other people like me.”

When asked about his success, he responds, “I’m a comedian now.”

Fair enough.

For Kindler, comedy was more like a stepping-stone to selfhood than a planned professional move, and his resulting life advice comes disguised as self-deprecating jokes.

“I’ll tell you how bad my band was. I was in a band where one of the names was The Visitors. Doesn’t that sound depressing? ‘Hey we’re not the home team; we’re The Visitors!’ When I went into stand-up from music, I was kind of burnt out on music. But maybe I was just burnt out on my music. I was in my 20s and life seemed too scary to me, so I didn’t put myself out there as much as I should have. It wasn’t until I got into comedy that I got into showcase places. I wish I had an older, wise sage. And I’m not wise, but I pretend I’m wise. I wish I had been nicer to myself in my 20s. Because I was young, and I was very hard on myself. You got to have fun. That’s all I’m sayin’… Is there anything I’ve said that can be used for the interview?”

Unbeknownst to Kindler at the time, there was plenty. But he suggests, “You can say, ‘I spoke to a Jewish comedian.’ And please say that I was eating a pastrami sandwich while we were on the phone.”

Kindler is respected in the industry as a leader in the brand of comedy that thrives on vulnerability and quirkiness.

“I never agreed that alternative comedy is a specific type of comedy,” he says. “I always try to say it’s like when you first start and you’re working on new material all the time. But the exciting thing is that now most of comedy is what I would call alternative. When I started, if you were gay, people wouldn’t be able to say they were gay. Now, I think we’re overcoming some of these stereotypes. And I do a lot of jokes about bad comedy, so I hope there’s still bad comedy out there. Everything is changing. For the better, I think. On television, there are so many weird shows. See, I’m from the self-deprecating school of comedy, so I like vulnerability in comedy as opposed to the Dane Cook school of comedy. Well actually, I don’t think there is the Dane Cook school of comedy anymore. It closed.”

Known for his recent work on Bob’s Burgers, Kindler reflects on how work as a voice actor translates beyond comedic lines:

“I’ve been trying to work on myself and learn things about myself that I wasn’t able to confront earlier in my life. I realized now that if you can accomplish being in the moment, you can get the best out of voice-overs. It goes to show that anything you love to do, the more you do it, the better you get at it. And because Bob’s Burger’s is my voice, I’m not changing it all. So when I can slow my mind down, I really learn how to deliver a line. On Bob’s, I think there are times where I’m more comfortable than I’ve ever been.”

When the stakes are high in Kindler’s life, a joke is always ready at the hip.

“If people did not have entertainment, they wouldn’t want to live,” he says. “Or maybe I’m just losing it. I could be losing it. This could be dementia.”

Andy Kindler performs 8 p.m. Saturday, April 8 at Wiley’s Comedy Joint, 101 Pine St. in Dayton. Doors at 7, and please arrive 30-45 minutes before show time.  Tickets are $20 for patrons 21 and up. For tickets or more information, please visit WileysComedy.com or call 937.224.5652. For more on Kindler’s work, please visit AndyKindler.com.

 

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Joey Ferber
Joey Ferber works out of St. Louis and Dayton as a musician and writer. You can hear him on electric guitar with St. Louis jazz-rap collective LOOPRAT at Looprat.Bandcamp.com and on his original theme song for the Dayton-based podcast series Unwritten at UnwrittenPodcast.com, for which he also contributed to as a scriptwriter. Reach him at JoeyFerber@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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