Myq Kaplan

photo by Mindy Tucker

Photo by Mindy Tucker

Myq Kaplan is one of the brightest young comedians out there. The 2010 Last Comic Standing Finalist has an unmistakable style, and is one of my personal favorites. I was lucky enough to sit down with Myq during the Moontower Comedy and Oddity fest. Kaplan is doing it all. He’s set to release a new comedy album June 11th, and you can catch him live on Conan TONIGHT!

I first saw you perform on Comedy Central’s LIVE AT GOTHAM. How did you get your start in comedy?

I went to college up in Boston, then started grad school in 2000. I was a singer songwriter for a while (and still am). 2002, I was in grad school around age 24 when I started pursuing comedy in Boston at a place called THE COMEDY STUDIO, and then found out about all these other places up there. And that is the answer to that question.

I did that LIVE AT GOTHAM around 2008, taped it in March, aired in June, and basically moved to New York right after that.

Were you a funny kid?

I don’t think most people would’ve said I was a funny kid. I was pretty quiet. When you’re small, like 5, 6, 7, 8, most kids don’t have a good sense of humor. You laugh at farts then when you become a grown up you’re like, “Oh I can do that again, good.” There’s some period in the middle when you’re like, “No fart jokes!” Maybe not for everyone. Some people might love fart jokes forever, but for me, there was a period where I thought I was too good for them. I know now I was wrong.

I went to this summer camp where I sort of blossomed socially during high school so I feel like I definitely started to do things I thought were funny, and some people might also think were funny, but other people might be like, “That’s annoying.”

So over the course of my life as a comedian, I’m becoming a funnier person as I become a better comedian. Some people have the goal of having the person on stage match the person you are off stage. I’m doing the other thing. My person off stage has become the person I am on stage all the time! That is sort of a joke, but I am kind of like meeting in the middle. imagesI’ve heard that Lewis Black said something like, “If your personality is like a bunch of slices of pie (of different characteristics and traits) then your stand up persona is like 1 or 2 of those and amped up.” But then over time, the more you focus on those characteristics the more you become that character. You know, like in the way that Andrew Dice Clay will seem more like his character than he probably was in the past.

You should see how well I ask questions in my everyday life.

I want to. So no, not a super funny kid.

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Andy Kindler

 

Andy Kindler - photo by Susan Maljan.

Andy Kindler – photo by Susan Maljan.

Comedy veteran and New York native, Andy Kindler, has appeared on the HBO Young Comedians SpecialLate Night with Conan O’BrianThe Daily ShowDr. Katz Professional TherapistHome Movies, The Larry Sanders Show, and is often recognized for his character Andy on the CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. He is also a frequent guest and correspondent for The Late Show with David Letterman.

Kindler recently performed at the Moontower Comedy and Oddity festival in Austin, TX, and I was able to catch one of his performances, which turned out to be my favorite show of the fest. Hosted by the legendary Dom Irrera, the showcase featured Bil Dwyer, Lucas Bros, Marc Maron and Judah Friedlander. Kindler killed, and his energy had the sold out club rolling.

I had a chance to sit down with the very friendly and very funny Kindler right before the festival got underway.

Describe your process for generating material.

Let’s see. I drink coffee. Actually (Kindler takes a sip of coffee) that was just an excuse for me to drink coffee, although, energy is good. For generating stand up material, as opposed to technical manuals, I really don’t sit down and write. I just wait for things to happen. Because most of the comedy is something that is bothering me on TV or is something that’s bothering me in the world. So it’s almost all interacting with the world, and then because I give a speech every year, or have been lucky enough to give a speech every year at Montreal, (Just For Laughs). I give a speech about what’s wrong with comedy, so that makes me have to focus, and that’s actually a good process. Then I write things down.

I’m not big on giving advice and stuff, but good advice for anyone who writes anything: anytime the idea comes to you, write it down, and you can’t judge it while you’re writing it down. For most people that’s the main mistake they make. They think about the idea and go “oh that wasn’t good” so they’re constantly editing when you need to separate your editing from your creating. So that’s one thing I’m pretty good about. I’m also trying to do more voice memos lately.

Are you your harshest critic?

The thing about stand up is, I’ve tried many different things in life, I was a singer-songwriter, and I can say honestly without being falsely humble I’m confident that when I come out with a joke I’m going to enjoy it, so I feel like I can do it. So I’m not a harsh critic that way. In other words, once I find the joke, if I like it, I like it. The critical stuff is more of how much stuff I’m coming up with.

You were on DR. KATZ

Yeah that was one of the first things I did on TV.

How do you like TV? You were also on EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. How does that compare to doing stand up?

I would pick stand up over anything because I’ve been doing it enough years – I can tell the process of it is the most enjoyable of all the things. I can be a very harsh critic of my acting, not because I feel like I can’t act, but I feel when I go on auditions I’m very self- aware, so a lot of times if it’s going to be a part where people get it because the person commits to a thing, I usually don’t get that part. When I started stand up there were many years of a lot of pain. I have obsessive compulsive tendencies. So a lot of the time on stage I was thinking “oh what am I doing?” On stage I was really wrapped up in thinking about what I was doing on stage. That took years to get rid of.

What do you think about taking classes or going to school for comedy?

That’s a tough one, because you know, I was in a duo.  We had a day job together selling stereos. So my school was doing a couple years with him (my friend). We signed up for open mics. I think it’s something that you can’t really be taught. I definitely am not against people who take classes, because it’s so scary to start, a lot of times at that beginning level you’re just performing for other people in the class. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, just don’t ascribe to anyone’s Svengali-like advice.

Who are your biggest comedic influences?

I was influenced by Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, David Letterman, I was a big sitcom fan so I knew about Bob Newhart’s sitcom before I knew about his stand up.images

So I didn’t specifically follow stand ups, but then of course I knew about several, like George Carlin, and then later I got into Lenny Bruce. I also remember loving Richard Pryor as a kid, all the original Saturday Night Live people were great. David Letterman was a huge influence on me because he kind of took that Johnny Carson thing one step further in terms of he was able to make fun of the joke when it didn’t go well. Dave took it to the next level of “isn’t this ridiculous?” Everything is ridiculous, very funny. And the Albert Brooks and Woody Allen movies.

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Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest

image by Jon McMahon

Picture by Jon McMahan

Moontower Comedy and Oddity festival in Austin, TX this past weekend did not disappoint. Event organizers and planners did a wonderful job, selecting terrific venues (my favorite being St. David’s Bethel Hall), the majority of which were in walking distance from one another, and if you had a badge you were allowed to park in the One American Center Parking Garage for free, in the evenings located at 7th and Congress – only a few blocks away from most of the action.

puddles

In only it’s second year, Moontower delivered – the talent was stellar. On Thursday night alone I caught Neal Brennan, Myq Kaplan, Chris Hardwick, the legendary Dom Irrera, Andy Kindler, The Lucas Brothers, Marc Maron  Judah Friedlander, and this awesome sad faced singing clown named Puddles.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with a few comedians performing at Moontower last week.

Check back with LCC later in the week for  in depth interviews with Andy Kindler, Myq Kaplan and the The Lucas Brothers.