If you don’t know Kyle Kinane by sight, you almost certainly know him by sound. For nearly a decade he was the voice of Comedy Central, and three of his hour-long specials have appeared on the channel. Or if you’ve cancelled your cable subscription, maybe you’ve seen Kinane on Netflix’s The Standups or heard him as the voice of Bullet on Paradise PD. However he’s snuck into your life, the Illinois-born comedian has been working his ass off for years.
As we presently drown in this festering whirlpool called life, Kinane has thrown us a flotation device in the form of a nearly two hour-long special (one hour and forty-two minutes, to be exact) to let us laugh at our troubles and the world. Trampoline in a Ditch, recorded live at Madison On State in Madison, Wis., is just as rough-hewn and idiosyncratic as you’d expect one of his albums to be.
Kinane’s natural storytelling prowess shines throughout the record, whether he’s discussing his dad eating a banana poorly or the stuffed man he bought for a handful of change. His stories are colorful flights of fancy, leaping off initial ideas grounded in reality into the strange, hilarious unknown. Kinane’s impeccable use of language proves one of his most important tools. An early highlight is his coining of the newfangled idiom, “I’m more tired than a big-dick bat.” We’ll let him explain that one to you, but needless to say, it’s going in our lexicon. “It’s crude but eloquent at the same time,” he says of his novel phrase, and the observation also applies perfectly to Kinane himself.
The structure of the album is more than a little unusual; on track 12 the Madison set ends, with four more left cobbled together for the finale. Don’t get me wrong—these last bits are still very, very funny. They just feel tacked on to a set that was already so stellar, leading to the fairly long run time. However, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. The composition may be a bit clumsy, but it’s more Kinane, so we’re not complaining.
Kinane also bears the distinction of being one of few white male comics who gets the topics of sexual harassment and race right—mostly. His mentions of both of these subjects during the Madison part of the special are both funny and strike the right tone, primarily because he approaches the subjects from his own experience of them. He’s not trying to put himself in anyone else’s shoes, but constructs the jokes based on how his own life exists in relation to issues of race and sexual harassment. However, Kinane also makes some throwaway comments in the latter half of the special that feel incongruous with the self-awareness he establishes earlier. His remarks aren’t horrifically hurtful, but cheapen the record considering the mindfulness of his previous statements.
I’m loath to use the phrase “I’d grab a beer with that guy” to validate my affinity for a public figure because 1. that’s how we got George W. Bush (who’s still a war criminal, even if he’s not as blatantly awful as Trump) and 2. these days, I’d be delighted to safely drink a pint with most anyone. The self-dubbed “aging partier” is exactly the kind of person you’d want to spend a few hours shooting the shit with. Kinane falls into that category of comedians who feel utterly familiar but still manage to surprise you with their off-the-wall observations. Nearly the entire set feels like a tonic for the soul: singularly funny and warm, with a biting finish.
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.