Kevin James Doyle’s a US based comedian whose special we reviewed just this week, describing it as “a very, very funny eighty minute comedy special” and “You’ll find yourself laughing hard throughout the show”. Today we’ve been fortunate to do a Q&A with Kevin where he talks about the special, his very religious parents, why he has no interest in doing material about Trump, how to stay sane during the pandemic, and what happened when he did stand up in front of a member of the Hells Angels.
Comedy To Watch: How would you sell your new comedy special to anyone who wasn’t aware of your work?
Kevin: It is stand up comedy in the form of one long story. My favourite comedy is I grew up in a religious home, I was saving sex for marriage, I got engaged, called it off a month before the wedding and found myself in New York City a 30 year old virgin. Obviously the story is unique to me but I think anyone can relate because we’ve all fallen in love or had an embarrassing experience with sex.
CTW: You’re extremely honest about what’s happened to you in the past, but is there anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about on stage?
Kevin: Before I did this show I was terrified to talk about any of this stuff and it has actually helped me accept who I am and also taken the fear out of those aspects of my life. I processed much of these stories personally before I involved an audience. I would never want to embarrass someone else in my life with material or a story. But as long as it’s personal to me and I have processed it a bit, I think sharing the stories from this show have just made me more open to sharing more.
CTW: You touch upon your parents response to the show in the special, but since then have they changed the way they thought?
Kevin: They have no problem asking me to not tell a joke or a story. And I have no problem telling them I am going still going to tell that joke or that story. And then they roll their eyes and say ok. I think watching their friends or people at my shows react to the material has made them less self conscious about how me or our family will be perceived.
CTW: How did they take to you starting stand up in the first place?
Kevin: They were worried about focusing my energy on stand up rather than acting. Even though acting is still a difficult career, there is some structure there, you audition, there is a script and a director. So I think saying I am doing stand up was harder for them to wrap their heads around what that meant as a career. They still say “Kevin, just don’t quit your day job” in the most loving way.
CTW: What do you most love about doing stand up?
Kevin: I love taking a story that was embarrassing or made me angry or ashamed and making a group of people laugh with me about it. It can completely reframe my memory of a situation. Something that was negative is now something I remember as a funny story.
CTW: Conversely, is there any aspect of the job that you don’t like?
Kevin: When you start out you just have no idea how organized and detail oriented you have to be. Writing, remembering dates, making posters, emailing other comedians, booking shows. You really have to grow up and be professional in ways that you don’t expect. I would say that is something at first I didn’t like but I have grown to accept and get better at and ultimately is a very good thing.
CTW: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you since you started performing?
Kevin: My friend Cory, who directed the special, and I used to host a show in a basement bar called Three of Cups. It was a big biker and heavy metal bar in the East Village of Manhattan. One time we just could not get someone in the back to be quiet, I tried humor and reasoning with him. Then I just snapped and went off and yelled for him for 30 seconds. It turned out he was a member of the Hells Angels biker gang and surprisingly him and his friends responded best to anger and when I got off stage they came up and apologized for interrupting the show. Happy to be alive!
CTW: Your material is very personal, but have you considered writing about the current political insanity of Trump et al?
Kevin: No. I read the news, listen to podcasts and stay informed but I have never deeply connected with political comedy. Many of the people that do it are brilliant but it doesn’t interest me much.
CTW: And do you plan to perform material about the pandemic?
Kevin: I have a handful of stories that I have been working on that all take place around New York and since the city has slowed down I have wanted to film me telling the stories at the locations that they happened. The idea came about from thinking what material I could perform well without an audience and I think seeing the visual of the empty city could elevate the stories.
CTW: Finally, how have you coped with the craziness that is 2020? And do you have any tips as to how others might stay sane?
Kevin: I have read more the past 7 months than I ever have. Even with the world grinding to a halt its been easy to feel busy and anxious and rushed and forcing myself to airplane mode my phone and read has been calming. And running, I have never run so much in my life. Just this past Saturday I ran 35 miles with a friend, we had been training for that all summer and it felt like a major accomplishment that I am sure was directly connected to trying to stay sane. Reading and running…that is my advice.