Interview: Kevin James Doyle (2019)

kevin james doyle interview

Kevin Jame Doyle has been performing comedy in New York for over ten years now and he’s one of the best from the city, which is saying something considering the size of the stand up scene in New York, and he not only does stand up but also co-hosts a hit podcast and has staged his own play which ran in Times Square for over two years. He was the winner of the Best Solo Comedy NYC FRIGID Festival 2019 award, and the Edinburgh Cultural Review described him as being “Jaw dropping, Kevin doesn’t hold back… Fantastic. Engrossing. Hilarious – ★★★★½”, so if you don’t catch him at the Edinburgh Festival you’ll clearly miss out on a superb hour of comedy. Here he talks about his new show Loud Blond Bald Kid, what he likes and dislikes about the Edinburgh Festival, performing theatre in New York, the Sex and the City podcast he co-hosts, and the time he told a Hell’s Angel to “Shut the fuck up”.

Comedy To Watch: How would you describe your comedy to someone who wasn’t previously aware of your good self?

Kevin: I tell stories on stage that when they happened to me I swore I would never tell another human being. I have been doing stand up in New York for 10 years but didn’t feel comfortable onstage until I combined those jokes with real stories. There is something less humiliating about telling a group of 50 people I used to masturbate to the thought of my cousin than talking about it one on one.

CTW: What can you tell us about your new show Loud Blond Bald Kid?

Kevin: I found a journal I kept from a theatre camp I went to when I was 15 and it is so pretentious and earnest I had to read it onstage, people responded so well to it that a flood of stories and memories about those adolescent years started coming to me. In the journal I write in detail about how I can find out if I am gay or not. I get in a philosophical debate with myself over whether I should shave the few pubes I had or not. Ironically, right about that same time I started to lose the hair on my head. It’s a chance to talk about growing up in an unfiltered way for grown ups who have all been through the same experience.

CTW: You’re back at Edinburgh this year, what are your favourite things about the festival?

Kevin: I remember after dances in high school when I would go home at night and I was so sad the party was over. So as an adult I like to be at a place where the party doesn’t stop. I love the performing arts so to get to actually do that everyday and then go see it all day is a dream. I think Fringe opened my mind to what you can do onstage which is any damn thing you choose to. Also, so much of being a comedian is preparing to be on stage and get people to shows, so to be on stage 26 days in a row is the best.

CTW: And are there any aspects you don’t like?

Kevin: I am an optimist BUT the most frustrating aspect is when you are flyering to get folks to come to your show and they are on the fence and you KNOW they will have a great time. Which drove me to get more creative. I would tell people listen, at the end of this show, I will buy you a beer if you don’t like it and if you do you have to buy me a beer. I didn’t have to buy one beer. It actually was a good exercise and seeing how much I believed in my material and my show.

CTW: You’ve been performing stand up for a while now, how do you think you’ve evolved over that time?

Kevin: I think when I started I was too scared to tell actual true stories on stage and if I would talk so loud and so much because I was afraid to hear silence. Once I discovered a well placed joke can allow you to tell stories on stage that are true and deeper emotionally. In my previous show I joked about a broken engagement and a medical scare on my dick, experiences that when they happened I was crying. I trust silence more in those moments on stage, so that you can get them to listen, lean in and then hit them with a joke.

CTW: You’re one of the co-hosts of The Bradshaw Boys, can you tell us about the podcast, and what’s your favourite memory of doing it?

Kevin: I was out late with two friends one night in New York City and we joked that we were living Sex and the City as guys. But none of us had ever seen the show, so we decided to watch it from beginning to end with guests along the way. My favourite part has been actually watching the show, I thought I would be way snarkier and make fun of it but its just SO good. Kristen Davis who plays Charlotte just followed us on twitter and said she would listen to an episode, so I am just hoping we can get her on the podcast. And boy the Sex and the City fan community is ALIVE, well and OPINIONATED. It’s been fun to enter that world and see how much the show means to so many around the world.

CTW: Are there any differences when it comes to performing stand up in the US when compared to the UK? And if so, what are they?

Kevin: Besides saying ‘Flat’ instead of ‘Apartment’ and ‘Pint’ instead of ‘Beer’…no. There are differences between performing stand up around the US and I think its the same for the UK. Ohio audiences are different than New York City, you just have to shift gears and find your footing. But I find the audiences in the UK and Fringe in particular ready to listen and hear what you have to say. In New York I think people are ready to not like you, which makes it a good proving ground to toughen your skin. But in the UK I feel comfortable going a bit deeper without the pressure that the audience will bail on you half way through a bit or a story.

CTW: You co-host a monthly comedy show, Great Times with Cory + Kevin, in the US, what are your fondest memories of doing it? And what’s the funniest thing that’s happened?

Kevin: When we started our little bar show we just hoped people would show up, once that happened regularly we just wanted to put on such a great show for audiences that they would remember it in 20 years, this magical New York City experience. One show we surprised the audience with Jim Gaffigan dropping in to do a set unannounced and then Mike Birbiglia right after him. It was also in a legendary heavy metal bar called Three of Cups and the national headquarters of Hell’s Angels biker gang was located a block away. So one night I had a heckler and I just went off ‘shut the fuck up! You are ruining the fucking show’ and then when I walked off the stage I saw it was a Hell’s Angel and I was terrified. He said ‘Hey man, that was some funny shit.’ Since that day I am just happy to be alive.

CTW: And you co-wrote and starred in How To Be a New Yorker with Margaret Copeland, can you tell us about that, and do you have plans to do another piece like it?

Kevin: That was an incredible opportunity, we ran off Broadway for over 400 performances and it was my first writing credit. Doing theatre in the centre of Times Square was such a rush and something my 15 year old self would never have believed. The goal was to cover every aspect about New York City in an hour, so it was a learning experience writing about things I never would in my personal stand up. We need a sketch about Central Park, get on it. We need material about the subway, go! One guy gave the show a D+ review which I thought as the ultimate jaded cynical New Yorker review. But audiences loved the show and kept us open for years, it was a beautiful little love letter to such a great city. This show Loud Blond Bald Kid is personal stories, but I definitely want to write another show that is fictional and not all true. And How To Be A New Yorker allowed me to play like 30 different characters which was liberating.

CTW: Apart from what you’ve already done, is there anything else you’d like to do in the comedy world?

Kevin: I just filmed The 30 Year Old Virgin as a comedy special which I am thrilled about. In my 15 year old theatre camp journal I read in Loud Blond Bald Kid I talk about how I want to be a REAL actor that does SERIOUS roles! And I still have that desire to do like Arthur Miller on Broadway or something. There is still this thing in me that really wants to be able to be DRAMATIC like its the gold standard but in the meantime… I have toured the US quite a bit and I would love to tour the UK with this show, travelling for work is the best way to do it.

CTW: If money were no object, what would you like to create?

Kevin: I would have a bar with a performing space in the back that had music and comedy every night. I love music and I have toured with a few great bands opening for them doing comedy, Streets of Laredo and The Lone Bellow. There is a bar called Sunny’s in Brooklyn that has music every night. I have some deep desire to combine comedy and music, in a live show on the road, in a performance space or in some fictional show that I guess I need to write.

CTW: And finally, if you could interview yourself, what question would you most like to ask? And what would the answer be?

Kevin: I would ask ‘Are you enjoying the moment?’ Because if 15 year old me saw my life he would be so excited and proud. And when I think of my past experiences and accomplishments I am happy and proud of that person. So it’s a practice to be in the moment and enjoy performing for 20 people or 100 people or writing a joke that bombs, then rewriting it. And just to be DOING the thing you want to do. While I am onstage performing this show… Yes, I am enjoying the moment.

Alex Finch. Photograph (c) James Cemero.
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Related Links:
Tickets for Kevin’s Edinburgh show can be bought here. 
Kevin’s Official Site.
The Bradshaw Boys Sex and the City Podcast.
Kevin on Twitter.

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