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Live Review: Kyle Kinane’s Comedy Central Taping at Chicago’s Metro

The veteran comedian returned home to tape his third Comedy Central Special

Photo by Laurie Fanelli
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Photography by Laurie Fanelli

Kyle Kinane held a homecoming this weekend at The Metro, which was recently chosen as one of CoS’s Greatest American Venues. The 39-year-old comedian was in town to record his third proper special for Comedy Central. And while the actual televised broadcast won’t air for some time, a packed house of Chicagoans witnessed a sneak peak, as well as some behind-the-scenes edits and obligatory drunk heckles.

Shane Torres (Last Comic Standing, Help Wanted) warmed up the crowd with a tale of sleeping with a rando right after learning that a close family member had died. This contrast of morning sex and mourning sex spurred a lot of guilty chuckles, but it was his defense of widely loathed TV chef Guy Fieri that chopped the audience into bits. It was a truncated set, but Torres was comfortable onstage as he somersaulted between clever wordplay and upbeat, albeit misanthropic, pleasures.

Photo by Laurie Fanelli

By the time Kinane took the stage — about an hour after drinks were cut off, for your viewing pleasure — the spectators were eager for the comedian’s dark wit and cutting observations. Like a modern-day Travis Bickle, Kinane shared tales of the filth and scum, such as spotting an unpainted Juggalo in the raw wearing an “I ❤ Squirters” t-shirt, or rationalizing which mass shooting could finally unite the American public. Kinane argued that the Westboro Baptist Church had already demonstrated its ability to bring together diametric groups, such as the Hell’s Angels and LGBT activists.

His gruff baritone — utilized for years as the official voice-over of Comedy Central programming — made these criticisms and contrasts more impactful. It also bestowed an air of authority to his various bits of harsh advice and wily statements. “It must be so easy for cops to arrest child molesters now that vape shops exist … These are basically real-life chat rooms. They should just Minority Report [the customers].”

Photo by Laurie Fanelli

Kinane was on top of his game throughout the taping, quick to make on-the-fly edits as the television cameras captured all angles of the room. One such instance found Kinane attempting to “retake” a joke that removed reference to Portillo’s — his beloved Chicago eatery — in favor of a broader, more widely recognizable restaurant choice. It was at this time that the the early alcohol cutoff proved ineffectual, as a member of the crowd drew the ire of the room by shouting out Portillo’s again and again as the comedian reworked the setup. Kinane — clearly perturbed at the prospect of having to repeat his magic trick for the screwheads — didn’t miss a beat. He artfully got through a final rendition while also sacrificing the heckler lamb atop the altar of crowd justice.

The biggest theme of the night was Kinane’s diminished health brought on by years of hard drinking and reckless dietary habits. He shared his recent diagnosis of the gout, a lifelong ailment that doesn’t lend itself to self-righteous awareness ribbons. And certainly not a charity walk. His foot ailment and the need to eat more vegetables also shifted the stand-up’s take on culinary trends. “We get it, chefs are the new rock stars, the new cool guys. You shot heroin with Anthony Bourdain and have an egg whisk tattoo on your neck, we get it!” This segued easily into closing thoughts on Benihana table chefs facing the double curse of being Cirque du Soleil performers, as the flames lick at the children seated nearby. “Hey kids, look … I turned an onion into a choo-choo train. What is this, some kind of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lyric?” This bit, and Kinane’s red-hot delivery throughout the evening, roasted the crowd. Check please!

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