It’s never too late to put out your debut comedy album. Case in point: Andy Kindler released Hence the Humor in May after around 30 years in the business. Whether you know him from his devastatingly self-deprecating stand-up or as Mort, the pitiable mortician on Bob’s Burgers, Kindler’s voice is curmudgeonly in the best way possible. On Hence the Humor, Kindler leans into bombing and leaves joke shrapnel all over the audience.
Though released in 2020, it’s unclear when this album was recorded exactly; I’d guess sometime in the early-to-mid 2010s, considering that he says the centennial anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking happened the year before. A good chunk of Kindler’s bits will doubtless be familiar to anyone who’s seen his stand-up, and he even references this fact near the end when he eschews the notion of coming up with new material every year like Louis C.K. (considering he discusses C.K. without any mention of the #MeToo movement, this definitely dates it). His stubbornness only serves to make him more endearing.
For those new to Kindler’s stand-up, his haphazard style can be disconcerting. He’ll start a sentence without finishing it, or drop a subject only to mention it minutes later. He attributes his style partially to his ADD (“My mind goes blank every 10 seconds,” he jokes at one point), but he manages to make what could be a hindrance into the central premise of his show. There is no overarching theme, and Kindler’s own meta-commentary about how his set is going turns the album into a stream-of-consciousness style performance. It’s a bit like scatting, but with jokes instead of jazz.
Kindler’s self-awareness is largely what makes his humor work, even when his jokes don’t function in the ways you’d expect. He knows if he’s doing a hacky joke, he knows that the audience expects a punchline to follow the set-up and he tells you that. Some of his best bits come from references to what he’s doing physically onstage, which is obviously a short-sighted move considering it’s an album recording. He knows, he doesn’t care, and that’s great. Decades in comedy will make anyone jaded, but Kindler has the wherewithal to use his cynicism and analytical eye as key parts of his set.
Hence the Humor certainly won’t appeal to everyone. Some will find Kindler’s performance grating or hard to follow, but those who do enjoy it are sure to have found a new favorite album.
Hence the Humor is now available to stream or download on various platforms.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast, hibernophile and contributing writer for Paste’s music and comedy sections. She also exercises her love for reality TV at HelloGiggles every now and then. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.