Andy Kindler – The Ugly America Tour, Soho Theatre

4-out-of-5-stars-rating

You may know Andy Kindler from his many roles in TV comedy series, the long-running Everybody Loves Raymond, Maron or I’m Dying Up Here. Perhaps you’ll know his voice even if you don’t know the face, having lent his voice to Bob’s Burgers, Dr. Katz, and Home Movies. He’s also a regular on the American Podcast scene with his own show Though Spiral, appearances on Never Not Funny with Jimmy Pardo and Dan Harmon’s Harmontown. He’s perhaps best known for his State of the Industry addresses at the Just For Laughs Montreal festival, where he takes blistering shots at his contemporaries annually. That combative, rabble-rousing spirit is in evidence here as he targets Ricky Gervais and Louis CK and more confusingly for a UK audience, Dane Cook. For some comedians coming over from America, a misjudged reference might cast a pall in the room, but Kindler’s schtick is such that he’s almost inviting this as it gives him a chance to berate the audience, and himself. Andy Kindler’s act is in a state of constant review from the man himself, he’ll stop to pull apart a joke before the punchline has been reached, and if a joke hasn’t garnered what he feels is the right amount of laughter, you’ll hear about it. The self-reflexivity is something Stewart Lee fans will be familiar with, but here it’s with an added doses of nervous energy and impish spirit.

We are treated to an examination of his obsession with WWII and Hitler as a Jewish person, watching grisly true crime shows as relief from the Trump Administration and his sleep apnea and OCD diagnoses. All of these topics are subject to digressions and non-sequiturs (“If Huey Lewis was in comedy they would be called ‘Huey Lewis and What Else Is In The News’.”), which are then held up to the light and considered. It’s an exhausting yet rewarding experience

Kindler repeatedly claims that this show has no theme or narrative arc, other than a “celebration of life”, he says wryly. And while the tongue is in the cheek, I did come away feeling brighter for having spent an hour in the company of a very talented, funny comedian.

Andy Kindler is on at the Soho Theatre until 15 September https://sohotheatre.com/shows/andy-kindler-the-ugly-america-tour/

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