‘Tis the season for Kevin Kling

I’m thinking somebody should proclaim December “Kevin Kling Month.”

The storyteller, playwright and performer is starring in three shows and celebrating the publication of two books, all in the span of a few weeks.

One of the books is called “Big Little Brother,” which was published just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday and has already garnered a rave review from the New York Times. It’s Kling’s first book for children, and is largely inspired by life with his younger (but bigger) brother Steven.

When asked if his brother collaborated with him on the book, Kevin Kling wryly responds “yeah… when he was four.”

Another book “Come and Get It” is being released on December 10 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. It’s the MCBA’s annual Winter Book, and features text by Kling along with illustrations by his friend and artistic cohort Michael Sommers.

The book tells the story of Marty, a farm kid who loves the earth, but dreams of being an artist, too. It was originally produced as a theater piece for Open Eye Figure Theater.

Kling says he is honored to have the story selected for MCBA’s annual project, which is hand printed and bound by the center’s staff:

The artwork – the book itself, the paper they chose – there’s so much work that goes into it. It reminds me of theater because it’s such a collaborative process. And in the end it’s an object that you want to hold – it’s so beautiful what they do – it’s a work of art in itself.

In addition to his books Kevin Kling is on stages all over the Twin Cities. Currently he’s the master of ceremonies for Interact Center’s cabaret “Joy”, which earned a rave review from Minnesota Monthly’s Tim Girhing:

Any show featuring Kevin Kling with a Guido mustache and an Eye-talian accent, reeling off jokes like Chico Marx, is worth the money. The real treat of Joy: A Holiday Cabaret, the new holiday show by Interact Theatre, is that Kling is consistently and delightfully upstaged by the Interact performers who dance, sing, and mug their way through this tribute to what makes them, well, joyful. You won’t find a more genuine, touching holiday sentiment this season.

Kling will have to step down for the final week of “Joy” because he’s got another show to perform: “Of Mirth And Mischief” at the Fitzgerald Theater. It’s the first show to come out of his new residency with MPR.

The show pairs Kling with musician Steve Kramer, formerly of the band The Wallets.

He feels like a brother to be quite honest. We just have the funnest time; his music is unbelievable! We’ve been working on the writing and music at the same time, and he’s got this amazing band – it’s like a who’s who of Minnesota musicians.

Band members include Haley Bonar, Aby Wolf, James Diers and Jennifer Armour. You can listen to some of the music they’ve created for the show here.

This Saturday night Kling will tell stories at the Cedar Cultural Center as part of the celebration for The Brass Messengers’ new CD Metal Harvest.

And more music will ensue this coming Monday night at the Guthrie Theater, when Kling takes the stage for his annual chestnut “Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log.” The show has evolved over the past 20 years from a one-man show to more of a cabaret, and this year will include the music of Simon Perrin, Dan Chinouard, and Peter Ostroushko.

Kling, who has always been a pretty prolific writer and storyteller, says nothing in particular has changed this month: it’s just that projects he worked on earlier in the year are all finishing up at the same time.

All of it’s fun – sometimes I go crazy because I’m so busy, but I just love all of it.

It doesn’t look like Kling will be slowing down in the new year; he’s already gearing up for a bunch of storytelling festivals and for a show in February at the O’Shaughnessy all about love.

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