TCJ Exclusive: an Interview with JFCS Benefit Comedian, Laugh Riot Andy Kindler

This is a guest post by Sarah Slavick at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis.
I recently got the chance to talk with comedian Andy Kindler. I snorted from laughing so hard, so it goes without saying that he’s a funny guy. You might’ve seen him as a judge on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, or on The Tonight Show or Comedy Central. He’s a hilarious, genuine guy — the kind of guy who loves The Beatles and hates Newt Gingrich, as you’ll read below.
And you can hang out with him — and comedian Kathleen Madigan — on Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Pre-Party for Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis’ 22nd Annual Benefit! The exclusive Pre-Party for adults under 40 will be at the Downtown Minneapolis Hilton (1001 Marquette Ave. S.) in the 3rd floor Duluth Room from 7:30-8:15 p.m., and then Andy and Kathleen will perform at 8:30 p.m.
Buy a ticket to the Benefit, bring a date (or scout for one at the Pre-Party), have a free martini and rub elbows with two very funny comedians.
All you need to get in is your ticket to the Benefit and a birthday that qualifies you as younger than 40. (No offense to our over-40 friends!) To get your ticket(s), go to or call 952-542-4878.
Need I say more? This is a great way to socialize, a great way to help the more than 16,000 people JFCS helps each year, and a great way to rub elbows with Andy and Kathleen.
So here’s what Andy had to say about the Benefit, playing violin, being a Jew, his favorite swear word, and … well, just read below and you’ll see.

Why should people come to the Benefit Pre-Party?

The party is going to be fun! I’m not a good drinker under any circumstances. Before performing, no one wants to see me drink — well, unless people don’t want to see the show! But I’ll socialize like a mad man.

What got you into comedy?

I was originally a musician, playing classical violin as a kid. Then I played guitar. I have a lot of issues about pleasing whomever I think my parent is in life, so somehow I transferred that to my violin teacher. … After college I went to LA as a singer/songwriter/guitarist. There were a million of those. … I was selling stereos, even did door-to-door saleswork for a while. I kind of fell into comedy, really. I was at a company picnic for the stereo store and was doing impressions of everybody, and my friend Bill said ‘Why don’t you do stand-up?’ … So now I’ve been doing comedy since 1986.

What’s your favorite thing about being a comedian?

I think my favorite thing is the idea that, without laughing and without being in touch with your sense of humor, life can be pretty bleak if you take it too seriously. Laughter is a relief valve from that, and it’s a spiritual thing. People can feel together as a community through laughter.

Who are your role models?

Not so much stand-up comics at first. I saw comics on Ed Sullivan, but my early influences were sitcoms like Dick Van Dyke, I Love Lucy, Mary Tyler Moore…
Woody Allen’s movies — Manhattan and Annie Hall — changed everything for me. The idea that you could do comedy and have it be related to actual life was genius. …

How would you describe your brand of comedy?

I think my brand of comedy is like deconstructionist because I kind of analyze comedy while I’m doing it. I like to think I have jokes, too. It’s about being in the moment and really relating what’s going on in my life that I can relate to other people. My favorite comics are people who are honest to themselves, not using tricks.

How do you feel about helping to raise funds for JFCS, a 100-year-old social service agency?

It’s more important than ever that we have organizations like JFCS to help people. … These organizations where we can come together as a people for all people to lift each other up are hugely important. I’m thrilled to be part of raising funds for this organization. Thrilled to be part of raising money that helps people in so many ways. … I also like to celebrate my Jewishness!

So, now for some fun questions, a la James Lipton of Inside the Actors Studio.

Favorite word? Jewriffic!
Least favorite word? George W. Bush
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Music gets me going more than anything else. Also, being with people. When you really like talking with people and you’re having fun talking to them, and relating.
What turns you off? The Tea Party
What is your favorite curse word? F**k, because it’s all-purpose!
What sound or noise do you love? The slot machines in Las Vegas. I love that constant background of the possibility of winning money. Geez, that’s not good for the Jews! [Andy, using broadcast voice:] “Jewish comedian Andy Kindler loves the sound of money!” And the stereotypes continue.
What sound or noise do you hate? The Wheel of Fortune machine in Las Vegas. And any sound that Newt Gingrich makes.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I want to get a time machine and be a member of The Beatles. Even the sixth or seventh Beatle who shows up when Ringo’s not feeling well. I’d also like to be more of an actor in movies! Plug!
What profession would you not like to do? Pundits are the worst because they don’t actually do anything. Those who can’t do engage in punditry.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear G-d say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? ‘I exist, and Bill Maher is an idiot.’

And if that’s not enough to make you want to attend the JFCS’s Annual Benefit and Pre-Party, here’s why Andy thinks you should attend:


(Photo: Philip Evans)