People pursue careers in comedy for all sorts of reasons: to make others laugh, to express opinions, to get back at their parents. (That last one is just speculation, Mom and Dad.) But as stand-up comedian Kyle Kinane tells it, his motivation was simpler: to do as little as possible.

“As a kid, comedy was something I watched on TV,” says Kinane during our recent interview. “And I couldn’t really understand how it worked, because somebody would just talk, and that was it. You didn’t have to act, you didn’t have to do stunts – you just talked, by yourself, and people would laugh, and that was a job. I was pretty fascinated with that, and, when I first started, I think I knew I was gonna do it forever.”

Yet for someone who attended college because he thought “if you didn’t go, you had to get a real job, and I didn’t want one of those,” Kinane’s job has found him doing far more than he initially expected.

Jim Florentine in Louie

On the final episode of the most recent season of FX’s comedy Louie, star Louis C.K.’s alter ego was performing stand-up in Oklahoma City, and forced to share a condo with his opening act, a hack comedian named Kenny. At first, Kenny seemed awful: He drank whiskey in the morning; he gave his barely legal chauffeur sexually explicit advice; his stand-up set was rife with masturbation and fart jokes (which, to Louie’s mortification, positively killed).

Tammy PescatelliIt’s 8:08 a.m. when comedian and former Quad Cities resident Tammy Pescatelli calls for our arranged interview, and right off the bat, she apologizes, unnecessarily, for running eight minutes behind schedule.

“I’m calling you late because the principal from my son’s school called,” she says. “Whenever you hear that the principal is calling, you get nervous. First, you see that the school is calling, so you’re like, ‘Oh no ... is he sick?’ And then when it’s the principal, you’re like, ‘Oh, God ... what now?’ I mean, he’s never been in trouble, but you know ... . You become a kid when the principal calls your house.”

It turned out, however, that the principal was calling with good news: Pescatelli’s son Luca, who turns eight on February 26, had qualified for the gifted program. I tell her that’s great, and also congratulate Pescatelli on her 2013 comedy special Finding the Funny, the Netflix-streaming title I’ve viewed and enjoyed numerous times over.

“Then you know how excited I am to find out that my son’s in the gifted program,” she says upon hearing that I’ve seen her stand-up act. “’Cause you know the other side of his genes.”

George Strader, Andrew King, and Patrick Adamson"Is that ahi tuna?"

"No. It's a-ha tuna. This is a comedy interview."

So went a not-atypical exchange during my recent conversation with area comedians George Strader, Patrick Adamson, and Andrew King. (It was George who asked about the tuna and Patrick who ordered it. If you were wondering, Andrew had a burger.) But while the jokes and laughs tended to come fast and furious during our chat, there was one thing this trio was dead-serious about: The Quad Cities' comedy scene has, since the beginning of this decade, been enjoying a pretty dramatic renaissance. A pretty inspiring one, too.

David CasasNear the end of our recent interview, I ask David Casas a question that, I think, most people would want to ask a professional magician who spends much of his time making doves appear and disappear: "Has anything really awful ever happened during your act?"

He smiles and replies: "The only thing that's really happened was at one of my first shows. Every time I used to produce a bird, I would always hold them close to me. So I was doing that at one show, and people started laughing, but I didn't know what they were laughing at. So I just kept going with my act, and they kept laughing, and I think I went to grab a silk or something ... . And then I see this big line of bird poop running down my coat.

"And I was like, 'Oh-h-h-h ... now I get it,'" says Casas. "I just shook my head and said, 'That'll happen with birds,' and kept going, you know? And I learned that when I produce the bird, I need to hold it out."

Josh KahnAs emcee for the Bottoms Up Burlesque troupe and a former emcee for Burlesque Le' Moustache, Josh Kahn's formal responsibilities shouldn't include disrobing in public. But if you ask Kahn about his favorite experiences from years of hosting and providing comedic filler between striptease acts, don't be surprised if the first one he mentions involves the night he himself stripped on stage. Or rather, as Kahn refers to it, "the first night I stripped on stage.

Doug Stanhope

(Author's warning: You know that label that gets slapped on certain CDs boasting raunchy language? The one that reads "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content"? Please imagine that label getting slapped on this interview, too.)

If you read the praise bestowed on him by critics and contemporaries in Great Britain, you might imagine that Doug Stanhope is less a stand-up comedian than a stand-up deity.

The UK's daily newspaper the Guardian, for example, had this to say: "Stanhope shocks you with the virulence of his lucidity; he shocks you into realizing how transparent the confidence trick of Western propaganda can be made to seem. What he has in abundance is the charm, don't-give-a-damn swagger, and aggressive intelligence that make for important, exciting comedy."

Iconic British comedian Ricky Gervais, meanwhile, offered this tweet to the world: "Doug Stanhope might be the most important stand-up working today."

So how does the American Stanhope, who makes frequent tour stops in England and Scotland, feel about spending time abroad?

"I hate it," says the 45-year-old comedian during a recent phone interview. "It's not good at all. I mean, I have a great fan base over there, but I just hate the day-to-day of being there. It's so ... depressing. Like, I get seriously depressed, and I don't want to do comedy ever again, anywhere.

Tim Bedore"A guy once sent me this story," begins comedian Tim Bedore. "He had a great muscle car from the '60s, and he had it all waxed and polished to this beautiful shine, and he had it parked under a tree. And this squirrel started dropping nuts onto his hood, over and over again.

"He finally moved the car underneath a different tree, because he wanted to keep the car in the shade and not ruin his perfect wax job. But after he did, the squirrel jumped over to the other tree, and started dropping nuts on the hood. It could've dropped them anywhere, but it had to drop them onto the hood of his car. It was a purposeful thing.

"Now, biologists could probably come up with some explanation for this. It liked the sound. Or it thought the car was an enemy. Or," Bedore suggests, "it just wanted to piss off a human. I mean, why not just go to the simpler explanation?"

Alex ReymundoTwo veterans of Comedy Central will perform in the Quad Cities this month, neither of whom, in separate interviews, had any trouble recalling his beginnings in professional stand-up.

Bombing on stage, after all, does tend to stick in your memory.

Grandma LeeAt one point during my recent (and rather terse) phone interview with comedienne Grandma Lee, the performer explains her interest in stand-up by saying, "You gotta do somethin' you love. I'm 74 years old, but I'm not ready for the rocking chair."

It would be understandable if you responded to those statements with, "Aw-w-w, how cute!" But with her voice pitched just a tad higher than Bea Arthur's, and with her Web-site introduction providing a memorable image of the comic with a beer and a don't-piss-me-off deadpan, this 74-year-old is hardly your everyday, adorable, cookie-baking granny. (On Lee's MySpace profile, "Drink/Smoke" is followed by "Yes/Yes.")

Pages