Kyle Kinane’s last stand-up album, Loose in Chicago is now out on vinyl, and Kinane doesn’t really want a copy.
“I don’t want more stuff,” he said on the phone from Providence, Rhode Island, where he was performing later in the night. “One of the few things I enjoy about the advancements of technology is that I can have less stuff around. I don’t need this wall of records. I don’t collect anything. I know people do that, and there’s some joy or comfort they get from seeing their collections, but I just look at it like, ‘why do I have all this shit?’”
This isn’t surprising coming from Kinane, who’s firmly established a lovably gruff persona through his stand-up. He’s the kind of guy who, during a recent set at the Red Clay Comedy Festival in Atlanta, joked that he only brought one piece of furniture when he moved in with his girlfriend: a table he keeps solely to throw a knife into it. Clearly this isn’t a guy who gets precious about his possessions, and definitely not about his audio formats.
He is the kind of guy who can understand why people might be into buying records. If you’ve seen his comedy before, you know that Kinane isn’t just a grump but a perceptive and empathetic grump. He gets why people would collect records, even the kind of albums that wouldn’t seem to benefit from whatever sound quality perks can supposedly be heard with vinyl, like a stand-up album. “I think there’s a little more reverence towards it,” Kinane theorized. “Like we’re gonna sit here, we’re gonna put this one, there’s a little more ceremony to it. I don’t know if it’s just that ASMR release of putting a needle on a record and hearing the little crackles and the pops and all that. Everybody wants to talk about sound quality and this and that.
“Just because I don’t do it doesn’t mean I don’t get it.”
Kinane went out of his way to say he wasn’t trying to be a grouch when talking about record collectors. “I don’t think I’m being a grump,” he told us. “Like hey man, if that makes you happy to have this wall of personality in your living room, go for it.”
And there are practical benefits to the physical product, especially one as large as a 12” slab of vinyl. As Kinane explained, “I do like the fact that you can look through and be like ‘oh I haven’t listened to that in a while’ and you remember it, as opposed to once you get something and it’s just in your iTunes library, it’s kind of just lost after a couple of weeks. And having a vinyl record forces you to listen to it in the order it’s meant ot be listened to, which I think is very important for stand-up. An hour of stand-up is performed that way, performed in that order for a reason. And the artwork too. I’m happy for my buddy Dom [Gianneschi], who does all my albums, that there’s an actual physical representation of all the work he puts into it and the design.”
Loose in Chicago isn’t new. It originally premiered almost exactly a year ago, as a special on Comedy Central and a digital album through the network’s record label. In Paste’s review, Robert Ham wrote that the hour was proof that Kinane was “reaching master status with his comedy.” On the phone Kinane joked that “It’s the same stuff that came out before a year ago, and I hope you like it on the vinyl with all the cracks and the pops and all the midrange that the kids love,” but the fact remains that it’s a great hour of stand-up that should be listened to, no matter what format you prefer, no matter how feigned his enthusiasm is. “It’s blue vinyl. People like that. Wow. Exciting,” Kinane added.
If Kinane was still just on his way to “master status” a year ago, he might’ve already attained it by now. His recent set in Atlanta wasn’t just the best Paste saw at the Red Clay Comedy Festival; it was the best we’ve ever seen Kinane, period. After hours of watching dozens of comedians of varying experience levels, it was more obvious than ever that Kinane is one of the most confident and self-aware comedians of the moment. His stories spool out and circle around each other, overflowing with statements and observations that sound absurd but almost always feel real and honest, and remain consistently hilarious despite (or, more likely, because of) rarely ever following a straight-forward joke format. There aren’t a lot of setups, punchlines or callbacks with Kinane, just incredibly well-told stories that always focus in on their funniest details. That’s exactly what you’ll find on all his specials and albums, Loose in Chicago included.
Kinane regularly plays festivals like the one in Atlanta. He’s on the road throughout the year. He’s played every part of the country multiple times and made several overseas trips. He’s had a front row seat for the explosion in comedy over the last decade or so, as it’s grown into an industry that’s spilled into every kind of venue that could possibly handle a live comedy night, and one that’s big enough to support expensive vinyl runs of old material. He doesn’t think the current comedy climate can last.
“Stand-up’s pretty flooded,” he said. “There’s a lot of tourists in stand-up right now and I feel that that’s going to lead to the bubble bursting. Everybody’s a comic now, it feels like. How many people can you hear talking about the same thing? Which late-night show do you turn into for your Trump jokes? That’s what they all are, so which one do you pick? You can’t watch all of them.”
You can listen to records, though. You can gather around the turntable in your living room and drop a needle on Loose in Chicago/i> and hear one of the top comics of today on what might be his best release yet. And when it’s done you can slide it back into its sleeve and put it back on the shelf alongside your other records.
The vinyl edition of Kyle Kinane’s Loose in Chicago is now available.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.