Thursday, May 15, 2014

Finding the Key to Happiness: Kyle Kinane Live at the Record Bar

"I found the key to happiness," comedian Kyle Kinane insists in a craggy, Chicago-heavy accent. Budweiser in one hand and a microphone in the other, he tells the sold-out crowd at Westport's Record Bar, "you just need to loosen up your definition of what a miracle is." Throughout the night, it's a constant in his set. While ambling back and forth across the corner stage, he lowers the bar considerably and in the process lifts everyone up with him.

For the 37-year-old Kinane a miracle needn't be a "crying statue" or curing leprosy, it can be the ability to "burn laundry." "I didn't know you can do that," he admits with the wonder of someone who has gone to the Moon. The same reverence is given to a microwave that cruelly locks Kinane out as he attempts to make Totino's Pizza Rolls. Even while yelling at the malfunctioning machine for calling him a "child," he can't help but confess "it's all fun." For the "hobo-clown" there's no weary downtime or "boredom," which he considers a wasted emotion. If that word so many of us fear even begins to creep into Kinane's head, he just grabs a foot long sub and heads to the nearest pawn-shop to treat it like a Hard Rock Cafe. Like someone searching for coins under a couch cushion, Kinane will find the joy in something if you give him enough time.

Waiting in line at a bank provides an opportunity to find love, if only for a few seconds. As a warm smile drifts across his face, Kinane recalls a woman in a pantsuit putting a pen back at the bank. His heart flutters and his faith in humanity is restored because of this one woman who's "got her shit together." You don’t need to track down the one who will "complete you" when these joyous little pieces can put you together just the same.

Though sometimes being an optimist can cause you to be "excited about the wrong things," a problem Kinane cops to having. When a friend asks what he's got going on tomorrow morning, Kinane exuberantly responds "I don't have to wake up for anything!" before slowly realizing an exclamation mark shouldn't punctuation that admission. Similarly when Kinane carefully probes mass shootings, he finds a prepared shooter is “real bad, but it’s not the worst.” “The worst would be if he was just running in there spraying bullets,” he continued as the crowd fell to a hushed silence. “He’s not gonna go in there spraying bullets everywhere, because he’s gonna wind up hitting Dave at Lady Foot Locker and we like Dave,” he proclaims as the crowd surges from silence to a roar. There’s no way to define progress, but with tiny baby steps.

Those steps can be as infinitesimally small as going a single day without having a dark memory float back up to the surface. Kinane all but prays for “repressed memories” when reflecting on the time “you were 6 and dropped a brick on a frog.” He keeps his fingers tightly crossed that the time when his na├»ve 22-year-old self got “a Beejer from an under-aged girl with brain damage,” stays locked in a dark box. “Man I’d love to forget that one,” he summates after going into excruciating detail. But as he grabs his black hoodie and heads off stage, there’s no defeatism in the air. Even if he can’t shake the horrible plot twist, he’ll find a happy ending somewhere.

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