Andy Kindler holds comics, including himself, to a high standard. From The Hack's Handbook piece he penned way back in 1991 to his famously ruthless state-of-the-industry speeches at Just For Laughs, the 55-year-old veteran habitually takes the piss out of his fellow piss-takers - calling foul on all manner of comic misdeeds. He returns to Comedy Bar Monday to Wednesday (September 24-26) for JFL42. See Comedy listings.
You took some shots at Louis CK during your speech in Montreal, and you're on the bill with him here. Did he ever respond?
[Laughs] No. I'm not really in Louis CK's circle. It'd probably be harder if we were really close and I went off on him. What I said was partly about him, but also about how the media perceives him and falls into untrue statements - calling him "the greatest comic ever." No one's the greatest comic ever. But I think he enjoys presenting himself in a certain way that feeds into the media thing. And I still can't get a straight answer why people give him a pass for sending drunken tweets from a plane.
How did you feel covering the RNC for Letterman earlier this month?
If I thought they were going to win, it would be depressing. It's easy to make fun of them when you think they're going to lose. But I've been wrong about so many things before. I've never been paid as a prognosticator. I don't get a lot of work as a mentalist.
Have the "how to be a hack" rules changed since the 90s?
As a judge on Last Comic Standing, I noticed that the homeless have become big targets for comedians. I don't know if I'd say that's as hacky as the things in the handbook, but the idea of picking on a group of people who can't fight back - to me those bits aren't funny.
Because of the attitude or the material?
Unfortunately, most comics, once they figure out how to get laughs, figure that's what being a comic is, and they go as far as they can with it.
People get popular by being faux shocking. I watched this Lisa Lampanelli special, and all she did was identify groups in the audience, calling them slanty-eyed. What's the joke there?
But that's her act. She's the female Don Rickles.
That's such an insult to Don Rickles, because he's so hilarious, and it comes from a warm place. He's not a mean guy - he's a hilarious guy who makes fun of everybody.
You said recently you're trying to be more empathic. How's that going?
[Laughs] I have so many strong opinions on the entertainment industry, but if I'm in a deli somewhere and someone says they love that Adam Sandler movie where he dresses up as his twin sister - well, I don't want to make people feel bad for how they feel about things. I'm always courteous, not mean.