Troy Kinne delivering new episodes despite COVID-19 restrictions

• Kinne Tonight new episodes: No live audience, but plenty of jokes!

10 is bringing back its local comedy series Kinne Tonight for a second season starting Monday May 25. These days with audiences split over live, catch-up and encore screenings it is harder to identify what qualifies as a hit. The best yardstick is perhaps if a network recommissions a program. Using that criteria, Kinne Tonight certainly qualifies for hit status.

Although this is comedian Troy Kinne’s second outing with 10, it is his show’s fourth season if you factor in two series with 7mate.

Speaking to Mediaweek just a few days from the launch of the new season, Kinne explained he had packaged up episode one ready for broadcast and was still at work on episode two.

Kinne edits all his programs which must help make him an economical package for the broadcaster. “Putting the episodes together is my favourite part of the creative process. I’m good at it, but not terribly technically minded so I have to make a few calls asking about the different settings for the software.”

Kinne finished all the studio shoots recently, getting access to the 10 facility after initially believing there may not have been any slots on offer.

“We managed to get access for three days and shot the parts that we needed for two episodes each day. It was strange though going in without a studio audience. It did give us some freedom though with the structure, allowing us to film the different segments for the series in one block instead of saving some for each time we had an audience.”

The comedian was initially concerned how the studio shoot might come across without live reaction. “It didn’t take us long to get into the groove though and after watching it back it seems to work well. It was a bit weird at times, but we got there.”

Because the producers anticipated a COVID-19 production shutdown, they front-loaded what was to be a three-week location shoot and managed to get most it done in two weeks.

“We now have more than enough for six episodes, maybe seven if they wanted another one!”

The audience remains critical for testing material, said Kinne. “I like to think I have good radar for what is funny. But at times it can be hit and miss. I had a joke sitting in a draw for 12 months that I eventually tried and it became one of my best jokes. It was sitting in the draw for that long because I didn’t think it was very good.

“The opposite can also happen when I think I have a great joke, but then it is greeted with nothing but crickets!”

The pressure of a deadline can really help the comedian create too. “You sometimes find another gear in your brain you didn’t know you had. You think ‘Why did I not come up with that when I was writing it when I had all the time in the world’, but I can find it when I have just 20 seconds to come up with a line.”

Despite not having an audience, Kinne said he remains reluctant to use a laugh track. “People can smell it a mile away when you add laughs. We tried getting the crew to laugh, but after a few minutes we had to get them to tone it down because it was starting to sound too fake.

“If a joke doesn’t seem to work, I’d rather edit it out than try and trick people that it was funny.” He’s not critical of other people going that route, but is adamant it’s not a choice he’d make.

People who enjoyed season one of Kinne Tonight have much to look forward to in the new episodes.

“We have brought back the sarcastic guy, something we had in mind for so long. I was worried people might just think it was stupid, but it proved popular. So much so that I can’t post anything on social media without people replying, ‘Is it?’, ‘Did ya?’ [Laughs] If people are going to get sick of him it might be this time because we have filmed so many of them.”

Also returning is James Bondi and Kinne’s portray of God.

In a previous episode Andy Lee played Jesus giving Kinne the job of Santa. Lee is back this series handing out the comedian a new job.

Apart from this series, Kinne said his business plan for 2020 has taken a heavy hit from COVID-19. “I have a new accountant and I was asked what is planned after the series wraps. I had to say nothing. I did have shows planned in London and Canada with ambitions for some in the US too. They have had to be cancelled.

“In a weird way it has been good timing for me in that I have the show now and it is also keeping me busy editing every day. My life at present hasn’t changed terribly much.”

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