Published on November 20th, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson0
Andy Kindler cooks it old-school
Kindler’s first dvd, I Wish I Was Bitter, was filmed back in 2003. Yes, six long years ago. Why it took this long to release? I can’t even begin to guess. But what’s important is that it’s here now.
Full disclosure, which perhaps is the only part of this you really need to read: I received this dvd almost three weeks ago. It’s taken that long to complete this writeup, because I was enjoying it so much I was forgetting to type and had to keep restarting it. (Yes, this is a “positive” review.)
The dated references throughout the set are fully embraced within the inside of the dvd cover, which lists definitions of former cultural touchstones like Crank Yankers and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Also helpful are explanations of such concepts as “Network Executives” (“in ancient times television network executives constantly meddled in the creative process…. Nowadays there is no longer a creative process, so their job is much easier.”)While it takes a moment to adjust to seeing standup not filmed with a Comedy Central budget, all told it looks sharp, and if there are any edit points I failed to perceive them. It’s a multi-camera shoot, and the angles are almost all good. The long shots from the back of the room present an oddly depressing image of LA’s M Bar, capturing no less than 3 balding heads hunched over their appetizers for a slight dinner theater vibe. But the hipness returns quickly, because, after all, this is a room full of Andy’s fans. The audience cut-aways also reveal flashes of a few vaguely familiar – and youthful – faces (though Todd Glass hasn’t changed).
Kindler is dressed in a standard selection from what I’ve always imagined to be his giant walk-in closet full of dark blue wrinkle-resistant button-down shirts (which clearly never go out of style… have I hammered home the 2003 thing enough?).
It’s strange to realize that this was filmed a year before I ever saw Andy in person. I’ve only heard a small percentage of this material before, and I’m sure others will be in the same boat. Usually when a comic releases a dvd or cd, there’s something a little anticlimactic about seeing the same material you just saw them do live, or that’s been played to death on Youtube. How could I have never heard Andy’s pitch for Who Wants to Marry a Road Comic? It’s a series of lovely surprises.
What makes the dvd truly genius is the commentary track. It’s as heady and hilarious as you imagine it would be. Andy’s style is to comment on the joke he just told. So now he’s commenting on the comment on the joke he just told. And then taking it a step farther: “Feel free to comment yourself in your own home. Maybe you have a recording device, and it might be fun to record you own commentary. Why don’t you send it to me?”
The commentary goes further into the explanation of dated references, such as the digs at George W. Bush. Explains Andy: “Back then there were no parades, he wasn’t carved into Mt. Rushmore…”
I will let one major spoiler slip. The line in the commentary that had me rolling the most?
“While I’m doing this audio commentary, the Writers’ Guild is on strike…”
Yes, it turns out the commentary is stale-dated too. Trust Andy to do something so perfectly meta.
I Wish I Was Bitter is available through Andy’s website.
On a Sunday evening earlier this month, I watched Andy tape his second Comedy Central Presents special in New York. Another blue shirt, another killer set. Just another day, right? (Jon Dore was also on the bill, and rocked it hard. That boy is going to be huge in the States.)
Afterwards, Andy descended the staircase outside of John Jay College to greet his friends, and was met with the kind of cheers a crowd would normally reserve for a man about to announce that Gotham City was crime-free. Collectively we spent about half an hour congratulating him before I went on my way (I’m sure he was there all night), and he certainly seemed happy to receive it all from the group of friends, family (his folks are lovely!) and industry types. I’m very glad to have been there (even despite missing out on the most gut-wrenching Asssscat lineup ever. Argh.).
No airdate has been announced for the special, so keep your eyes on the Comedy Central website for details. (Those of us in Canada can expect the Comedy Network to air it in mid-2015.)