Comedian Kyle Dunnigan stays true to impulsiveness. His career began as an actor — the traditional path — studying at the University of Connecticut. But it was the stand-up and improv scenes in New York City that shaped his trajectory. He’s since frequently featured on Comedy Central for over a decade. Today he remains a regular contributor to the Howard Stern Show as well as a recurring character on the Amazon original series One Mississippi. Dunnigan will bring his stand-up performance to The Mill on Sunday, April 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 day of show.
Kyle Dunnigan will be at The Mill on Sunday, April 2. — photo by Jenna Szabo
Reno 911! marked the beginning of Dunnigan’s tenure at Comedy Central, as a footloose serial killer who just happens to be Deputy Trudy’s boyfriend. His character also appeared in the feature film Reno 911!: Miami. Dunnigan’s standup routines also ran on the Comedy Central Presents series. Inside Amy Schumer was his most recent venture for Comedy Central, working as a writer and character for the entirety of the series’ four-season lifespan — the closest to a desk job he’s worked in the industry.
Music has always been a hobbyhorse of Dunnigan’s, particularly in its effect for comedy. “Girl You Don’t Need Makeup”, written for Inside Amy Schumer, won him an Emmy in 2015. His career is now starting to steer him to Gus Van Sant — a director he’s worked with in the past on the original pilot Shit Kids, which just premiered at Sundance. Dunnigan will feature in a supporting role for Van Sant’s upcoming feature-length, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.
So you studied acting in college, but the stand-up scene in New York City is where you first got in touch with an agent to launch your career. In what ways do you find these two different backgrounds converging in your current material for television and live performance?
Nothing against the school I went to but I don’t think I learned anything I use today. It focused on Shakespeare and classes I found strange. I remember one was called “Movement for the Actor.” One day they just put on psychedelic music and told us to just move around to it. People were moving around like looney tunes. I just put my head down for four years until I got my diploma.
What is the writing environment like between different shows you’ve worked on (e.g. Reno 911!, Howard Stern and Inside Amy Schumer)? Do you have a favorite story to tell from your time thus far as comedian, actor and writer?
Reno 911! was mostly improv on the fly. I remember going in one day and they were like “it’s your birthday. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” and they started shooting. Someone came walking in with a birthday cake. It was a lot to process on the fly. Inside Amy Schumer was more of an office job in terms of hours and showing up to an office every day. Howard Stern is either something I write myself and hand in or they’ll send me some material. I’m in LA, so it’s mostly prerecorded stuff. No stories are popping into my head, but I always found it odd when people would introduce me as a comedian, they’d say, “from Reno 9/11,” not Reno 911!. Like from Reno the horrific terrorist attack.
You have often talked about music in relation to comedy. What inspires your generative process as a writer of comedy, whether for the screen or live performance?
This is a tough question. I don’t know to be honest. I guess seeing something in the world that strikes me as odd is where I start. It feels like things just pop into my head.
What type of comedy do you find the funniest? How do you incorporate that into your current projects, and does that cause you to butt heads with the other writers and actors?
For me to laugh it has to feel very real or it has to be very goofy. Nothing in between makes me laugh. I haven’t really butt heads too much. Like-minded people usually find each other naturally.
Rob Merritt, well known throughout the region’s arts, journalism and nonprofit sectors, established himself as a playwright in 2011 when The Summerland Project premiered as part of Theatre Cedar Rapids’...