“Kindness”, the stand-up comedy album by Kevin Camia, is Red Velvet Devil’s Food Cake. The humor is rich, dark, moist, sweet, satisfying and presented in a leveled, circular form. Even if every shameful thought while consuming the album is “I shouldn’t be doing this,” the audience is compelled to continue the gluttonous decadence all the way to the water closet. “Kindness” reveals the truth that everything we eat ultimately conveys: the world is shit. At least Kevin Camia allows you to laugh at that fact with his smooth, satirical tones.
Camia is a Bay Area comedian with a gentle shell enveloping a dark, frustrated core. He lulls the audience with comforting pats on the head before yanking their hair with a jolting punchline. Camia has mastered the art of turning everything horrifying and lewd into assured, absurd “kidding” that never takes away from his overall likeability. It’s the ultimate juggle of juxtaposition: the varying intensities of voice and substance.
“Kindness” marks a continual transition present in Camia’s career: escaping the horrid hills of empty employment while contending in the low rewards arena of stand-up comedy. The comic mines his past in anecdotes about grocery stories and high school counseling. He also delves into socially conscious self-awareness by highlighting the rise of neodouchebaggery and office racism. Camia is especially skilled at taking Asian stereotypes, recontextualizing them to make generalizations sensible or twisting them to reveal ugly truths.
The comedian also takes flight into chaotic cognitions, walking along a funny and odd stream of consciousness. The best example of this comedy style is his musings on having a temporary vagina; an in depth analysis (wink, wink) on the inherent pros, cons and Camia’s own reservations. One could imagine Kevin in a Charlie Kaufman film as he cries, “Get off me!” (Buy this album and “Synecdonche, New York” to understand what I mean).
Kevin Camia is self-defined as a San Francisco born, Santa Rosa raised, progressive Filipino-American vegetarian. In “Kindness”, these are all superseded by Camia’s identity as a comedian. He takes a classic comic standpoint: enjoying the comforts of life whilst curmudgeonly mocking the surrounding societal constructs. Camia doesn’t pander, nor omit any group as he takes aim at items he loves (quinoa), hates (intolerance) or is indifferent to (interracial dating). And just as he goes top speed on a straight forward, cleverly cranky point the comedian can make a right turn onto Creepy Blvd. or Strange Ln., which creates a versatile comedy experience.
The official album set concludes with a tender moment where Camia expresses his desire to marry his longtime girlfriend. It’s a charming finale filled with hallmark lampooning, “Unchained Melody”, and a punchline that would make Louis Sachar smile. With these last laughs, “Kindness” subversively lives up to its name.
Thank You for Reading
P.S. Shakira as you’ve never seen her before: Reading Courting Comedy in footie pajamas.