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Bill Hicks (#110 of 2)

Turn to the Comedian: An Interview with Kyle Kinane

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Turn to the Comedian: An Interview with Kyle Kinane
Turn to the Comedian: An Interview with Kyle Kinane

With his signature beard and singular charm, one can’t help but want to have a beer with Kyle Kinane, host of 30 Seconds Over Washington, an eight-episode web series that pokes fun at political ads, and whose Comedy Central special, Whiskey Icarus, premieres November 24. Having moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to further his stand-up career, the 34-year-old Chicago native now estimates the number of shows he’s performed to be well into the thousands. Kinane performs almost nightly, making a living off his dream job.

“What is the role of the stand-up comedian in today’s world?” I asked Kinane as he sat down in my living room. He took a deep breath before answering, “I’m split halfway between ’This is a necessary element’ and ’You just fucking make fart jokes and expect to be a part of the world.’” I was somewhat relieved that he was torn over his beliefs, as it revealed that he was someone, like me, who did in fact see the inherently personal and societal benefits of the comedian, but also occasionally let the thought creep into his mind that, while this vocation is beneficial insofar as it brings people happiness, it’s not necessarily vital to daily life.

SXSW 2010: No One Knows About Persian Cats, American: The Bill Hicks Story, and NY Export: Opus Jazz

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SXSW 2010: <em>No One Knows About Persian Cats</em>, <em>American: The Bill Hicks Story</em>, and <em>NY Export: Opus Jazz</em>
SXSW 2010: <em>No One Knows About Persian Cats</em>, <em>American: The Bill Hicks Story</em>, and <em>NY Export: Opus Jazz</em>

No One Knows About Persian Cats (Bahman Ghobadi). In Tehran, being in an indie rock band can be extremely dangerous. After stints in jail and the constant fear of being caught playing “underground music,” bandmates Negar and Ashkan decide they need to go to London to play their music live. They get introduced to Nedar, a fast-talking, hyper-passionate underground music know-it-all who, after listening to their CD among his pet parrots and stacks of illegally obtained DVDs, uses his web of connections to try and get them overseas. He promises to help them on their journey to find a backup band and visas (a U.S. passport on the black market is $26,000).

Negar and Askan’s search for underground musicians through windy roads, basements, secret practice spaces is fascinating. At each stop, these real-life musicians play their music as the pair listen in, studying to see what and who will work with their band. These scenes often incorporate montages of Tehran street life. One of the most interesting segments concerns a rap group meeting on a floor of an unfinished building, and overlooking the city the group raps about class struggle in Tehran.

Bahman Ghobadi’s film premiered at Cannes, winning the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section and continued on to win several International awards. The film is a delicate and beautiful portrayal of the musicians in Tehran and how they struggle to do what they love. It is my hope that it will continue to play screens around the world.