Jay Spanbauer
Review

The Rise of Kyle Kinane

The touring comedian was hilarious last night at Shank Hall.

By - May 7th, 2014 02:40 pm
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Kyle Kinane

Kyle Kinane

You don’t typically expect the highlight of your week to come on a Tuesday night. But that was the case for me and probably others at Shank Hall last night, as Kyle Kinane came to town.

I realize Kinane may not be a household name yet, but since 2010’s “Death of a Party,” released on AST Records, his unique brand of idiosyncratic storytelling has garnered acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

The Great Plain Tour.

The Great Plain Tour.

Kihane’s stock is rising: he’s toured with the likes of Patton Oswalt and Daniel Tosh, and released another well-received, and absolutely hilarious, album and Comedy Central special – 2012’s “Whiskey Icarus.” He’s also performed his standup across the late night circuit, including a recent spot on “Conan.” You may also know him from a hilariously-long and now infamous Twitter battle with a popular salsa company – Google it.

Kinane, a Chicago-native, is currently performing new material across the Midwest on “The Great, Plain Tour.” And if Tuesday night’s performance was any indicator of the tour’s likely success, he can simply shorten the title to “The Great Tour.”

Shank Hall is a nice room for comedy and it filled up quickly Tuesday night: by the time the show began, a “Sold Out” sign was put up on the building. Not bad for a Tuesday.

Local standup, Jake Kornely, started the evening strong, winning the sold-out crowd’s approval. His set, filled with musings on finding dead bodies near his apartment, blacking out on the bus, and the upsides of divorce, was as sharp as it was hilarious.

Now, it’s difficult to describe exactly why Kyle Kinane is such a force when he hits the stage. He’s sort of an everyman. He was dressed casually, if not intentionally sloppy, in a hoody and jeans, sporting a bald head and a large, graying beard.

His comedic style can be likened to that of a storyteller. And his stories, whether they are about the “paranoid optimism” of owning a gun or turning 37 and falling in the shower, are generally fairly simple. But the magic is in the details. Kinane paints a vivid picture of every tiny eccentricity in a casual, yet meticulous and deliberate manner. The audience has to keep up as literally every sentence has some sort of hidden gem.

But the voice is what sells it. Think of the last time you were watching Comedy Central and heard, “next Wednesday, on an all new Workaholics” – that’s him. The harsh and raspy, yet playful voice can guide you through an absurd and often-lowbrow story with a brilliant form of everyday eloquence.

Without relying on one-line jokes or a quick-paced delivery, Kinane drew belly laughs from the crowd after nearly every sentence he spoke. The audience could barely keep up with his constant barrage of comic gold.

Kinane began the evening playfully lamenting the death of Fred Phelps, joking about the unlikely alliance of gay rights activists and bikers brought upon by the unified hatred of one guy.

Going forward, Kinane touched on the country’s fascination with mass shootings – and it’s impact on a standup comedian, adjusting our definition of the word “miracle,” as well as his version of a “spa day” – which includes drinking in the shower listening to Motorhead and Lionel Ritchie. Joking that at age 37, and without a roadmap for the rest of his life, he’s essentially “tailgating his own funeral.”

It’s hard to pick highlights from such a strong show. But a long story, filled with twists and tangents, about ghosts, was clearly a winner for the entranced crowd. The story, which started with his friend believing his studio apartment was haunted, led to fodder about ghost hunters, a pitch for a new reality show, “Ghost Buddies,” and a fictionalized temp job interview for a ghost.

Truly, Tuesday’s performance is likely to be viewed as one of the best comedy shows Milwaukee has seen this year. Which is quite a feat, considering the amount of talent that has already come to town.

If you missed Tuesday’s show – shame on you – there’s another chance! Kinane will be performing in Madison at the Comedy Club on State Thursday, May 8 through Saturday, May 10. Don’t miss this. I’d wager it’s the last time you’ll be able to see Kyle Kinane in a small club.

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