Kevin James Doyle is an actor, stand-up comedian, and writer of the off-broadway show How To Be a New Yorker which ran for 415 performances. His first comedy special, The 30 Year Old Virgin (which won rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) is out on Amazon, and he has three comedy specials coming out next year that will air on a bunch of platforms including Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play.
What is your current state of mind?
Settling in. For the past 14 months, I have been traveling – a tour in the Midwest, Paris, Singapore, and the Hamptons – I am finally back in my apartment in New York City.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I have no regrets about spending whatever is needed to go to a live performance. Concert, play, reading, any show that I really want to see, I do whatever to get in the door.
What is on your bedside table?
A cross stitch that my friend Cory gave me that says, ‘Who Bought That Azelea?’ It is an inside joke that makes me laugh and also inspires me.
Your earliest memory
I remember opening the car door as my mom pulled into our driveway, still driving, and I fell out of the car and skinned my knee. I remember cuddling up with her on the couch and drinking warm milk.
Do you strike up conversations on long plane journeys?
I think I used to when I hadn’t traveled as much. Now I prefer the lonely, quiet travel time.
Movie you will watch again and again
I really love Crimes and Misdemeanors. It has a funny storyline and an intense murder storyline. It’s set in New York. Fantastic acting. It has everything I want in a movie.
Anything Mediterranean. Chicken, tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes, falafel, hummus. I am getting hungry thinking about it.
I love lightly chilled red natural wines, but my true love, my soulmate, is coffee. I have an excellent espresso machine my parents got me for Christmas a few years ago, and I look forward to making my coffee every morning.
What is your most distinguishing characteristic?
People tell me I have a very loud laugh. It has been described by various parties as funny, obnoxious, cute, and annoying. BUT…they all agree it’s loud.
What trait do you deplore in others?
Probably arrogance. Seeing someone treat a person as lesser than, including cab drivers or waitstaff. It says a lot about a person.
Tell me about your Irish heritage.
My great-great-grandparents on my father’s side immigrated from Ireland during the potato famine. Growing up, people would identify me as Irish because of my red hair and last name. The biggest spiritual connection I feel to Ireland, is a love of storytelling. It’s in the blood as much as good pasta is for Italians. I would rather tell a great story than eat a great pasta dish any day of the week.
Have you been to Ireland?
In 2019, I visited Brian John Spencer, an Irish painter I met in Brooklyn. His family is in Belfast. We drove around delivering his paintings and then we went to stay in Bushmill’s, and I performed in a bar called The Bush House. It was an incredible trip, and I would love to go back.
My teacher Ami Wagner. She was an assistant director of a play I was in when I was 14. She taught me about film and good writing, always encouraged me, and believed in me. She has been teaching Latin in high school for almost 20 years and is now moving to the U.K. for grad school. She is a forever teacher, a forever student, and a forever friend.
What was your first job?
I was a server and dishwasher at a nursing home. I still remember the old folks I served. Frankie Krissandra read romance novels, the last chapter first, to see if it ended well. If she liked the ending, she would read it from the beginning. George Argiry always wanted his coffee with “two creams and a pink” (sweet and low), and Mary Gaffney, whose husband visited her every day in the nursing home. This job at fifteen gave me a lot of valuable insight into life.
Where do you go to think?
Prospect Park in Brooklyn. It is one of the great urban parks in the United States.
What is your typical day?
I am trying to wake up earlier, so my typical day usually starts with me pressing the snooze button and promising myself that I will wake up earlier the next day. Then, after some ritual self-flagellation, I make coffee, write in my journal, teach chess (that is my day job), do a show and perform, then go to a bar and ruin any chance of waking up when I want to the next day.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I had a very embarrassing moment with a famous African American writer that I talk about in my upcoming special, “Diary of a Bald Kid.” When I tell the story, there is always an audible “Oh no…” from the audience. When something embarrassing happens, it takes a few months to realize it is good stage fodder.
What is your favorite place?
Paris. I went for the first time in 2016 for three weeks, and I fell in love. I went back for three months to do some writing, and it continued to live up to what I had imagined. I love nothing more than sitting, writing, drinking coffee or wine, and talking, so once I made friends who spoke English, I got to do everything I love. Coming home was nice, though, because I can do all those things here. It was good to get away and fall back in love with New York.
What would you do if you weren’t doing what you’re doing?
My day job is teaching chess to kids, and I love that. My biggest influences would be my great teachers, and I aspire to be that for my students. I used to wish I didn’t have a day job, and that I could just act or do comedy, but now I actually embrace it all. So, I am happy to be doing what I like: teaching and doing comedy.
Who are your top career influencers?
As far as comedians go, Mike Birbiglia and Daniel Kitson. They bring a level of storytelling to their stand-up routines that changed my life. I remember seeing Mike do “Sleepwalk with Me” off-Broadway in 2008, and it made me want to do stand-up. Then I noticed Daniel Kitson at Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, and his performance opened my mind to what is possible on stage.
But my biggest artistic influences are musicians; Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Nick Cave are my holy trinity of inspiration, to work hard, be yourself, and express whatever you can, as best as you can, whenever you want to.
What has been your most memorable performance?
I used to host a show in the East Village called “Great Times” with my friend Cory. It was in a tiny, grimy basement, heavy metal bar. We would pack it out, and some of the best comedians around would perform, and we would have surprise guests. It was a magical show every month, and I learned so much. Jim Gaffigan, Mike Birbiglia, Michelle Wolf, Nate Bargatze, Tim Dillon, Nikki Glaser, and many more performed. The show was free, and the beer was $3.
What advice would you give to someone just starting in comedy?
I have given this advice to many people considering trying stand-up. I tell them to stop thinking about doing it once and how it might go. It doesn’t matter; even if it goes great, you must do it again anyway. Instead, please take a note card and mark it down each time you do a set, then decide how you feel about it after 100 times. If you make it to five sets, I bet you will reach 100. Most people never do it, or do it once. But in stand-up, quantity will lead to quality.
What’s next for you?
I have three comedy specials coming out next year. One was filmed in November 2022, called “Diary of a Bald Kid,” another I filmed in May 2023, named “Fool Proof,” and a third called “V. The City of New York” that I filmed in pieces over the past two years. I want to get those finished and out into the world.
I would love to write and get a feature film made. That sounds like an excellent rugged mountain I’d like to climb. ♦