It’s only fairly recent that I’ve started watching a lot of stand-up comedy, and I’ve spent more time over the past several months than I’d care to specify watching just about every comedy special that Netflix has to offer. This comedy binge included the hilarious hour-long special called Small, Dork and Handsome by Myq Kaplan. Being the rookie that I am, I was unaware that Mike Kaplan, known as Myq Kaplan on stage, was a finalist on “Last Comic Standing” or that he has performed on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, the Late Show with David Letterman, and Comedy Central Presents. All I knew was that this guy was freaking funny- smart jokes with smooth delivery while still maintaining his quirky demeanor that makes him so darn charming. Needless to say, I was excited when I found out that he was going to be at Warehouse Live thanks to The Secret Group. The guy is pretty much always on the road performing show after show, but was gracious enough with his time to chat with me and answer some questions so we can all get really familiarized and excited before he hits Houston on December 14.
Q: So, you started getting into stand-up in 2002. How’d that happen?
A: Magic. The un-explainable magic of how the universe came to be, billions or thousands of years ago, which ultimately led to my birth several or a few decades ago, to parents who were both music teachers who wanted me to love music as well, which I did only begrudgingly and mandatory at first on the violin, but then whole-heartedly and voluntarily starting in high school on the self-taught guitar, which resulted in my initial life goal dream job of singer-songwriter, during the pursuit of which I found the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I first went on stage initially to only play some funnier songs, but ultimately found joy in talking BETWEEN the songs, which I realized I could do without carrying a guitar around at all, and so I endeavored to have enough funny things to say such that no one would ask “where’s your guitar” but rather say things like “hahaha this guy doesn’t even NEED a guitar” (classic stand-up comedy review language), culminating right around 2002 with that goal coming to fruition, at least enough in my necessarily at least slightly delusional embryonic comedy mind-state. Like I said, magic.
Q: Now that you’ve killed the game as a finalist on “Last Comic Standing”, landed a slew of other notable television appearances, and turned your album into a Netflix special, where do you see yourself going (or hope to be going) with your career?
A: My plan is to stay still and have everything I could ever want come to me, rather than vice versa (essentially, we are all our own centers of the universe, one could argue). Or, that’s silly. You said very nice things to me and about me in this question (and I thank you sincerely), so here is my REAL answer (or at least it will start that way… it’s devolving already): my current goal is to keep doing what I’m doing. Writing, performing, putting out specials and albums however often it makes sense to, being on TV doing stand-up when I can and want and other people want, traveling, entertaining the fans I have and amassing more, ideally… I’ll also be happy to do other things, like be in movies if people ask me to (Henry Phillips had me act in “Still Punching the Clown,” which I was very excited to do), or work on writing a book at some point, or possibly record more music, comedic or otherwise. Essentially, I’m very content to be on the path I’m on, doing the work I’m doing. I’m grateful for everything I’ve been able to accomplish and experience, and I’m looking forward to what’s next, whatever it may be. (BARF. But also, truth!)
Q: How about your podcast, Hang Out With Me? That’s some pretty funny stuff. What’s it like keeping up with your podcast now that you are booking so many performances and spending so much time on tour?
A: How about it! I like the way you ask questions! Sincerity. Almost wrote “hashtag sincerity,” but then decided against it, and opted to say all this instead…I love doing my podcast, and the way I’ve done it for most of its existence is to bank a big backlog of episodes just in case I don’t have time to record regularly, and that’s worked out, though right now I do have the smallest backlog I think I’ve ever had, but I just make sure to take the time that I do have to get them done… Also, I try not to be on the road CONSTANTLY. I like being at home in NYC with my girlfriend, doing shows, seeing friends here, not living out of a suitcase always… So theoretically, there is always time to get recording done, but I sincerely appreciate the concern. I’ll keep it up! Or if I fall behind because I have too much comedy work happening, I’ll be grateful for that, and will strive to make it up to people who are missing the podcast. But for now, my schedule for the near future along with my completionist tendencies seem like they should keep everyone well-stocked in my voice for the foreseeable future.
Q: You graduated from Boston University with a degree in linguistics, which is probably one of the least surprising things I’ve ever heard since your way with words is one of your defining qualities as a comic. I’m curious about which came first- your love for comedy or your love for language? Does one inspire the other or do they play off of each other?
(Does that even make sense at all? We can work on rewording that question. Like, answer however you feel like answering and I can make the question fit your answer. I feel like that question is really interesting to me but actually sounds crazy. Please don’t turn me into a joke.)
A: I love this question, including the parenthetical at the end of it. Please keep it all. And I do understand and appreciate the question. You nailed it. I would say, given your choices, that they do play off of each other. Certainly, I learned to speak English before I knew that comedy was a thing, so my love of language existed first, and then my love of comedy built off of that existing framework, followed by constant interaction between everything. A way that I’ve answered questions like this before as been to say something like “My interest in linguistics didn’t lead me to comedy, and the comedy I love doing didn’t make me study linguistics, but rather both are external symptoms of the disease that is my internal self.” Also, I’m not a disease, but it often seems like a fun way to talk about it (jokingly insulting myself, with dis ease). Was it fun from your end? I’m optimistic. And if it wasn’t fun, at least it’s over! Win/win.
Q: Your comedy is very intelligent. I noticed on Small, Dork and Handsome that you embellished your jokes with some “dorkier” references. I thought they were hilarious, but I was wondering if there are ever any jokes or references than you refrain from including in your albums or live performances if you think that most audience members won’t catch them?
A: No. That’s the short answer. Maybe. That’s the long answer. Yes. That’s the wrong answer. In general, I tell the jokes I want to, the way I want to, especially when I’m recording an album (which will be comprised of jokes that have been honed and told in front of hundreds and hundreds of different types of audiences) … The “maybe” portion of the answer is, maybe if I’m performing, say, at a nursing home and I don’t think they know or care about the Fast and Furious movies, maybe I won’t tell a joke that references those movies. But also maybe I will. Another specific example of this kind of thing is a joke I have on my album “Meat Robot,” which requires specific knowledge about a Batman villain, and when people know it, they really get it and like it, and if they lack that knowledge, oh well. I recorded the joke for the album and enough people enjoyed it, but I’m sure there are some people who listen and don’t care, but if every once in a while, people have ten seconds of not fully appreciating my comedy, I’m okay with that. I tell a lot of jokes, and sometimes people can use a break. Also, in general, my interest is being myself and telling the jokes I want to tell, and to have people who enjoy me be my audience… I don’t want to just try to reach everyone by telling jokes that “everyone” can enjoy, because there’s no such thing. I’m me, and if you like what I do, that’s what I want, because that’s who I am. And they way I get people to like what I do is to do what I do.
Q: What’s your favorite knock-knock joke?
A: My favorite knock-knock joke is one my girlfriend wrote. It goes like this. She says “I have a knock-knock joke; you start.” Then you say “knock knock” and she says “it’s open!”
As you can see, Myq Kaplan is a genuine guy who is genuinely funny.
The show will be hosted by Zahid Dewji, alongside Andrew Youngblood and Chase Durousseau (all incredible Houston comics). The only reason I can think of for someone to not be at this show is if someone hates laughing.
For tickets to see Myq Kaplan’s stand-up routine live in Houston, purchase tickets here.
For more information about Myq Kaplan, visit his website myqkaplan.com