Andy Kindler has industry in stitches

Annual state of the biz speech packs conference room

MONTREAL -- Hollywood's labor strife, the rebranding of cable networks, late-night comedy, Judd Apatow and "The Love Guru" were the topics of punchlines in Andy Kindler's annual State of the Industry address here at the Just Comedy conference Friday afternoon.

Kindler's appearance yet again packed a big conference room at the Hyatt Regency hotel, and he even poked fun at the addition of the inaugural Just Comedy to the 26th annual Just for Laughs comedy festival. "You know comedy is over when it's not a festival anywhere. It's a convention."

He had the industry audience in stitches with jokes about some of the sessions and panels Just Comedy offered.

One panel, for example, discussed whether the comedy touring business is going bust. "Is your last name 'The Cable Guy'? Then, no," Kindler suggested. "Everyone else, likely yes."

Kindler also poked fun at a session entitled "Finding the comedy audience?" "I heard nobody showed up for that," he said.

For people who missed a session on mastering the pitch, Kindler advised them to present "two ideas they are completely comfortable with." One example: "It's 'Frasier' on a beach."

As he does every year, Kindler saved some punchlines for Jay Leno.

"Hillary (Clinton) went on Jay Leno to see if she could turn it around," he quipped. "Didn't work. Jay Leno still isn't funny."

Kindler also had thoughts on Jimmy Fallon, who will join NBC's late-night lineup once Leno's contract ends.

"He has passed all the tests to be a talk show host," Kindler said about Fallon. Such as: "Are you able to make Tina Fey seem likeable?"

And while everyone is asking what Jay is going to do, Kindler was more concerned about his loyal sidekick.

"Is Kevin Eubanks just gonna sit at home and laugh at regularly timed intervals?" he wondered.

Comedy powerhouse Judd Apatow, who came up with Kindler, also made the State of the Industry speech when Kindler poked fun at Apatow's winning the first-ever Comedy Person of the Year honor in Montreal. Kindler suggested this was just the latest made-up honor, and then predicted that comment likely blew any chance to benefit from Apatow's success.

Adam Sandler also was the target of a Kindler punchline: "His skin is so thin, he has to go in for treatments."

The writers strike and SAG talks were hot topics that the comedian put in focus as well.
SAG executives are "worse than George W. Bush," he suggested. "They don't even have an entrance strategy."

Kindler also said labor battles make sense at a time when "gas is $500 a gallon (and) people are stabbing each other over rice in the supermarket."

It's as if Hollywood said, " 'Stop stabbing yourselves over rice. Do you know what's happening in digital media?' " Kindler deadpanned to much applause.

The guy who pleaded guilty to uploading episodes of "24" to the Web made an appearance as Kindler reported: "He also admitted to watching 'The Love Guru.' "

Cable networks weren't left unscathed in the hourlong speech.

"I heard the History Channel wants to go younger," Kindler said before suggesting the likely rebranding: "We're not your parents' History Channel...We're doing the future now. Or giving you last weekend's news in more detail.''

One film technology-related bit toward the end that drew a particularly strong reaction featured the creator of "Star Wars." "George Lucas is starting a restaurant business. CGI Fridays," Kindler said.

He also suggested "CGI Miami" -- for those who "can't stand the realism of the real Miami."