Las Vegas Sun

September 17, 2014

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Columnist Lisa Ferguson: Kindler short on kindness for TV industry

Lisa Ferguson's Laugh Lines column appears Fridays. Her Sun Lite Column appears Mondays. Reach her at [email protected]

Contrary to popular belief, sunny Southern California does experience the change of seasons. In fact, comic Andy Kindler anxiously awaits the metamorphosis each year -- particularly as it plays out in Hollywood:

"I ask people onstage, 'Which is your favorite season: development season or fall? I love development season, because I love when you can smell the rejection in the air.' "

That was a little television-industry insider humor, for those of you whose heads it whisked over like a crisp autumn breeze. Such zingers mark Kindler's stand-up act, which he'll perform Monday through Oct. 26 at Riviera Comedy Club.

Kindler, who has been a comic since the mid-'80s, knows of which he mocks: Since 1992 he has written for, created, produced, hosted, starred in, guest-starred in and otherwise had a hand in a slew of television programs, among them "The Daily Show," "Ellen," "Martin," "The Larry Sanders Show," "Politically Incorrect" and "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist."

He has also had a recurring role on the CBS mega-hit "Everybody Loves Raymond," appearing each season since the series' 1996 beginnings.

Good news is, you needn't be a television bigwig to appreciate Kindler's quips.

"A lot of the stuff I talk about in my act, I think there's a universal feel to it," he said recently from his Los Angeles home. "I think people in all jobs face the idea, in any company or corporate environment, 'Can I do what I believe in? Can I say what I really think is true, and will it get me in trouble?' "

Kindler has tested the theory -- and received acclaim -- via his cynical attack on television's offerings in his annual "State of the Industry" address, which he's delivered for the past six years to the masses (comics and TV execs alike) attending the prestigious "Just for Laughs Festival" in Montreal.

During this year's event, held in July, he let loose on the current crop of sitcoms clogging prime time, targeting those in which unlikely characters cohabitate, such as CBS' "Two and a Half Men"; ABC's "Hope & Faith"; and WB's "Like Family."

"In real life," Kindler says, "nobody is moving in for comedic effect."

"Then there are shows like 'Whoopi,' " Kindler continues. "I just literally can't believe that 'Whoopi,' for example, is on the air. It looks like bad vaudeville."

Another of his peeves is the industry's never-ending quest to "find the next guy" on whom to base a sitcom. "I do a joke in my act about how, when the war first started, we briefly knocked out Iraqi TV -- and, of course, I pray for that ... during 'The George Lopez Show.' Now, there's another guy who I ... didn't think his stand-up act was particularly strong, but now there's a show around him."

Not surprisingly, you won't catch Kindler knocking "Everybody Loves Raymond."

"That's a show based on someone who I really think was a great stand-up," he contends, much like the self-titled TV successes of comics Roseanne and Jerry Seinfeld. "When they base shows around someone who has a very rich act, I think you have a good chance.

"It seems like so many of the shows on CBS have copied 'Raymond,' " he says. "They're all these blue-collar guys -- kind of like 'The King of Queens.' He's kind of a schleppy guy, and he's got a hot wife. Only on TV would that happen."

Before you ask, Kindler -- who turned 47 on Thursday -- knows what you're wondering: "Where's your show, Andy?" he says, explaining how he's constantly pitching ideas for new shows to TV execs. "I think it's one of those businesses where if you're not persistent, you may as well hang it up."

It's certainly not for lack of trying. Kindler was a regular on 2001's short-lived WB series "Raising Dad"; hosted and produced the interview show "The Pet Shop with Andy Kindler" on Animal Planet; and created a pilot, "Andytown, USA," for Comedy Central.

"My next goal is, I would love to host a talk show where I criticize show business," he says. Following a monologue lambasting the media, he and his guests would "have real discussions and try to stand up for what you believe in, in a business where that's hard to do."

In the meantime, Kindler says, "I'm very proud of where my career is. On the other hand, I want more." But has his critical tongue obliterated his chances of ever landing a series of his own? Probably not.

"I don't have problems having meetings with networks. I think that sometimes they do have a good sense of humor about it," Kindler says. "Was I wrong when I made fun of 'Emeril'? I wasn't wrong about it. They have to admit I had a good point."

Out for laughs

John Padon is keeping busy. The Las Vegas comic, who has starred in several area production shows, is scheduled to play The Comedy Stop at the Tropicana from Monday through Oct. 26, and Golden Nugget's "Funnybone Comedy Showcase" Nov. 21 and Nov. 22. Also on the latter bill: former KXPT 97.1-FM personality Carla Rea.

The legendary Smothers Brothers are set to host a "variety showcase" as part of the Las Vegas Comedy Festival lineup of events, at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 at the Las Vegas Hilton. Admission is included for registered attendees of the festival; otherwise, tickets can be purchased by calling the Hilton box office at 732-5755.

Comedian and Vegas frequenter Bobby Collin is also scheduled to host a showcase during the festival, which runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 at Stardust. For ticket info and other details, visit www.lasvegascomedyfestival.com.

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