Andy Kindler on Twitter wars, conservative humor, and the end of Letterman


Andy Kindler is currently preparing to deliver the State of the Industry speech at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, which takes place at the end of July. He's been giving the address since 1996, and each year he finds it more challenging. "I've realized over the years that the more I make it like a roast and less about rage, the more effective and enjoyable it is," he explains. "But sometimes when I jest I'm angry and I have to express it."

Kindler is just coming off a well-received set on The Late Show with David Letterman, as well as an appearance on Marc Maron's critically acclaimed IFC sitcom, Maron, and he has a new CD coming out, Hence, the Humor. In addition to doing standup on Letterman, Kindler has also done field pieces for the show. He was just as shocked as everyone else when the veteran talk-show host announced he would be stepping down next year.

[jump] "Nobody knew it was coming," says Kindler. "They really didn't. Maybe some at the show level did, but I sure didn't know. It was a shock. I wanted the show to go on forever, but I do think he's leaving for all the right reasons. You can tell by the way he's been since he announced he was going to retire. He's never had more fun. He should have gotten The Tonight Show, and I think the universe agrees with that. Now I think the universe has righted itself because there's no better person than Colbert to take over."

As for Kindler, there's always something occupying his time. "For the last couple of hours, I've been arguing with right-wingers on Twitter," he says. "I can't help myself because in my life I've seen so many different things and so many changes." Kindler is still puzzled by the amount of disrespect some show the president. "With Clinton, I knew it was all BS -- why they tried to impeach him -- and they always made the argument that he had an affair and all that crap. But there has never been a more honest president than Obama. It's just a fact."

Arguing that point on social media, though, can be frustrating. "Twitter is the greatest thing and the worst thing. There's sometimes when I can go for hours and not let anything bother me, but I'm not that way all the time, and I am tired of trying to appear like the cool guy, like nothing gets to me."

He used to engage with people on Facebook, but has since soured on that platform. "It got to be too long form, and they're always trying to change the software, and it just feels like it's a scam all the time."

Right-wingers expressing their views on Twitter is one thing; when they start trying to create comedy rooted in their ideology, Kindler has concerns. "When they had that show before, The Half-Hour Comedy Hour [on Fox News], the problem with that was that comedy in general has to be against something or fighting for something. And it's almost always fighting against the people in power. It's the way that the people who are being oppressed get back at the oppressor, and [The Half-Hour Comedy Hour] was doing jokes about the American Civil Liberties Union."

He reasons it could be just a sign of the times. "There's so many ways for people to communicate -- there's maybe too much. In the old days, you couldn't constantly be yelling at each other." But things may be coming to a head. "I think the Republican Party is on the way out. At least I hope it is," he says. "It would be nice to have a two-party system that worked, and where you could actually make a real conservative argument."


Andy Kindler

Acme Comedy Co.

708 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-338-6393

8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 Friday and Saturday