Kevin Christy: Hecklers and Giggling in the Museum

Kevin Christy is known primarily as a stand-up comedian and actor. He appeared in Dude, Where’s My Car? and has popped up in almost every cult TV series of the last two decades, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy and Malcolm in the Middle. He is also an artist and illustrator, who has made artwork for the Kings of Leon. But which Kevin Christy does he prefer being?

All images Untitled. Courtesy Kevin Christy

How and when did you get into stand-up?

About fifteen years ago I ran into a comic I’d worked with named Bobby Lee at a record store and told him I wanted to do stand-up. He got me a spot at the open mic that Sunday at the Comedy Store, and that was it.

And how about art?

I have been drawing since I was a very small, so I went to art school. I started showing and working as an artist not long after I graduated.

Are these two things at all connected for you?

I don’t really think so. I think the main reason I try to maintain both is it allows me to put my ideas in their proper place. I don’t have to try to force an artistic concept that’s not funny into my routine, or a joke into an image. They can stay where I feel they belong.

“I can get the narcissistic part of me satiated on stage, then go home and quietly paint”

The art world is notoriously a humourless place: have you found it to be so?

There’s not a lot of giggling at the museum, it’s true. There are some exceptions but the vast majority is quite serious. I like it that way, honestly.

Does being a stand-up help you to be a visual artist?

I think it helps remove my need for quick attention from making visual art. So it helps me in that I don’t rush anything. I can get the narcissistic part of me satiated on stage, then go home and quietly paint.

How do you feel attending one of your own art openings, compared to going on stage to perform a show?

It’s a more helpless situation. You can’t change the narrative at your opening. That’s your work, and you have to just stand there no matter how few people like it. I can abandon a bit on stage if it’s not working. And the parameters for dealing with hecklers is far more in a comedian’s favour versus an artist.

What do you think the place of comedy is now in the world? And how about art, what role does it play?

I think the role of comedy is to cut through things and make fun of the parts so we can laugh at the absurdity of it all. It’s a humorous Cliff Notes of life’s pain. The art world is so vast and broken up into so many small subgenres, I don’t really know if I can say what its role is. I think it’s entertainment to a certain degree but also a place for people to aim their thinking outside of “normal” existence. They’re both commodities. They just live in different buildings.

What’s your favourite joke?

A joke I’ll always love is a tweet by Alex Baze: “I admire your plan, but if it fails now Hitler has a time machine.”


This feature originally appeared in issue 33