Like many in his vocation, comedian Andrew Kennedy has a very serious side.
“Sometimes,” Mr Kennedy said last week, “you just don’t know why things happen in life.
“When your back is to the wall, when bad things happen,” he continued, “ just hold on.”
After losing his dream home in the recession and uprooting his family from the East to the West Coast two years ago, Mr Kennedy has found himself in a sunnier place, physically and emotionally. The timing of his family’s move to The Golden State also makes him believe that “sometimes we don’t have the answers, and we won’t always get them. Just try to be patient with the universe.”
The former Sandy Hook resident will be returning to Connecticut this month. Since moving in 2012 to the West Coast — and allowing his wife to realize her dream of living on the central coast of California — work has again become “excellent, never better,” he said.
“Things have been going extremely well,” he said. “I am once again a successful entertainer earning a good living for my family,” he said.
In the past two years, Mr Kennedy has done a number of corporate shows, and has traveled abroad. A few months ago he did a show entirely in Spanish while in Bogotá, Colombia, “which is something I was hoping to transition to,” he said May 29, on the phone while juggling lunchtime duties. He has also done a number of shows on cruise ships, and has more planned in upcoming months.
Last week Mr Kennedy told The Newtown Bee that he and his family are all looking forward to seeing family and friends they haven’t seen for nearly two years.
Mr Kennedy also has three shows in the tri-state area this month, starting with a June 12 event in New York City, which will also serve as a taping for Live at Gotham, a Comedy Central program.
The bilingual comedian — Mr Kennedy was raised in South America, the Caribbean, and Asia by a Colombian mother and British father; he calls himself “the original Rosetta Stone” — will then be in Bridgeport for a triple headlining show at The Bijou Theatre on Friday, June 13. He will be sharing the stage that night with Johnny Rizzo and Kevin Lee.
After that, he has four shows — June 16-18 and 22 — at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.
Mr Kennedy’s comedy, he says, is factually based.
“I just end up retelling my life, explaining how I ended up here,” he said during a segment of Back Home, Fusion Network’s program that follows a different celebrity guest each week on “an intimate and emotional voyage to their family’s country of origin,” according to program notes. Mr Kennedy’s episode was filmed earlier this year, entirely in Bogotá, where he was born.
How he ended up in California is a story with a few chapters taking place in Connecticut. After his early life in Colombia, and numerous moves around the globe during his childhood, the Kennedy family — his Colombian mother and his very proper British father, along with their three sons — eventually moved to New Canaan.
Andrew Kennedy and his wife, Amy, bought their first home in Stamford, and then moved to Redding in 2001. At that point, he said last week, “my career was picking up steam.”
By 2005, Mr Kennedy’s career was taking off, including a development deal with CBS and a Comedy Central special. The following year, the Kennedys “bought a huge house in Newtown, my career was booming,” Mr Kennedy said, his voice turning serious.
Shortly after that, the Kennedys joined countless others who were feeling the squeeze of the economic recession.
“By the end of 2008, with the market collapse in full gallop, I had lost about 75 percent of my income,” he said. At that point, he and his wife were also raising three children, Aidan, Ian, and Keira.
“We weren’t able to take care of our house, and we had to file bankruptcy,” he said. “This house, where we were supposed to live forever, we had to give up.”
The family stayed in Sandy Hook, living in a rental still within the same district where their boys had started attending school.
The comedic sound returns to his voice when Mr Kennedy talks about that move. To the north of that house lived the actor Anthony Edwards. Across the street was another celebrity.
“We ended up across the street from Suzanne Collins, but had no idea who she was,” he said of the popular young adult novelist. “Then some construction started over there and we thought ‘Oh how nice. They must have won the lottery.’
“Then the first Hunger Games movie came out and we went ‘Ohhhhhh,’” he said, laughing at the memory.
A Busy Schedule
While living in Connecticut, Mr Kennedy was performing weekly in New York City at clubs such as Gotham, Stand-Up New York, The Comedy Cellar, Comic Strip Live, Times Square Arts Center, New York Comedy Club, and other A-list rooms. Locally his career included a number of shows in various locations hosted by Treehouse Comedy, including a few at Edmond Town Hall Theatre in Newtown; headlining shows at The Brew Ha Ha Comedy Club in Hartford, January 2011; and as a Barnum Festival featured performing at Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport in March 2011, among other performances.
He also did fundraising work, including an event in Bethel in October 2009 to raise funds for the CNMA Fire Escape Fund, and again in September 2011, when he participated in “Comedy For A Cause: An Evening with Alexandra McHale & Friends,” a fundraiser for Connectucut Special Olympics at Fairfield University’s Quick Center.
He was also twice voted into the Top 20 Countdown of Comedy Central Stand-Up Showdowns. In 2009 his Comedy Central special finished in 12th place, right behind Dane Cook.
“For the longest time,” he said, “we just couldn’t pick up and move. We had the mortgage. We had the kids, in school. We had too many things keeping us here.”
By 2012, however, the Kennedys were ready to move.
Coming Out Whole
“We were no longer tied down to a mortgage, so we packed up and headed west,” Mr Kennedy said. The family — “which included the dog and two bearded dragon lizards,” he pointed out — piled into a 26-foot Penske truck, towing a car, heading to California.
“It was out of such pain and darkness that we came out of the other side whole, as a complete family and now better than ever,” said Mr Kennedy.
Part of being a stronger family is the fact that their move happened at the end of the 2011-12 school year. The youngest Kennedy child, Keira, finished kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary School that June. Her older brothers were also students at the school about to become known around the world. Six months later, Newtown and everyone related to the town — including the Kennedy family — changed after a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and six women before taking his own life.
“My daughter would have been attending one of the four first grade classrooms” on 12/14, said Mr Kennedy. “That was the first thing I thought of on the 14th of December. She would have been in one of those classes.
“She lost 18 of her kindergarten classmates from the year before,” he said.
The Kennedys were 3,000 miles away when their former hometown became national news. Suddenly everyone in their new circle of friends and school community knew where they had come from.
“We’re ‘the Sandy Hook transplants,’” said Mr Kennedy. “That’s what they call us. They have taken great care of us out here. The kids are flourishing here.”
Mr Kennedy said it was “a perfect series of unfortunate events” that led his family out of Sandy Hook “in time to perhaps save our child.
“So we don’t question life so much anymore,” he said. “We understand there is something larger than us in the universe. Something so powerful that in this instance it gave our family the chance to remain whole, for which we will be eternally grateful.”
With his professional life, Mr Kennedy chooses to focus on the humor that can be found in everyday circumstances.
His is “autobiographical humor,” he said last week. “It continues to evolve as the kids grow.”
Performances cover parenthood, marriage, family life, and his childhood.
“It’s not observational humor,” he continued. “It’s about people I’ve met, I interact with. It’s about the people in my life.”
While some comics will perform their routines word for word, night after night, Mr Kennedy told Fusion Network that while his shows cover the same subjects, he gets to those topics “each time, a different way. It all depends on the audience.
“It’s all like a therapeutic, organic session that is never the same,” he said.
What separates a good comic from a great comic, Mr Kennedy said on Back Home, is finding “somebody who, in every performance, leaves a piece of them on stage, so that the audience feels like they have experienced something that can never be repeated, and it happened together.”
Showtime for Andrew Kennedy’s co-headlining show at The Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport is 8 pm. Doors will open at 7.
Tickets are $20 for theater seating, $25 for table seating, and can be reserved through the theater’s website, TheBijouTheatre.com. Call the box office for additional information at 203-332-3228.
For additional information about Andrew Kennedy visit AndrewKennedyLive.com. The full episode of his Fusion Network Back Home episode can be viewed there.