If the name of a comic’s album gives us any insight into what to expect in his comedy, then Myq Kaplan’s albums titles are supremely helpful. There’s his most recent album – “Small, Dork, and Handsome” – along with “Meat Robot,” and “Vegan Mind Meld”, to name a few. These let us in on what to expect from Myq: comedy that walks the line between the sharp edge of English major excellence and cover-your-mouth inappropriate.
Myq was a finalist and fan favorite on Last Comic Standing, has stopped in to be funny on Conan and Letterman and we are incredibly lucky to have him at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival this year.
Q: From what I understand, your comedy used to be pretty music-focused when you were starting out. Do you still get ideas for songs to include in your sets or is that a thing of the past for you?
A:My comedy was completely music-focused at first; because my original goal was to be a singer-songwriter, and a comedy club was just one of many venues I found that would let me on stage to perform my songs. It just so happened that I found I also enjoyed talking in between the songs, realized I could just do that, and save a lot of energy by not having to bring the guitar everywhere.
I do still play the guitar as often as possible at home, and I do still write songs. I have a musical comedy duo with my buddy Micah Sherman, and we make songs and play them out at shows sometimes when we’re not doing our own things. And even in my own standup which normally does not include a ton of singing, sometimes it finds its way in.
My new hour special (which is out soon) has a bit of singing in it. Also, the hour I’m working on now since then may have a few songlets contained within as well, and then there are some things that just pop up as ideas, and I try them out, and then don’t know what to do with them except enjoy them as long as possible, like a new theme song I’ve written for “Sons of Anarchy” entitled “People Doing Bad Things.” (It also works as a theme song for “The Shield,” everything else on FX, also everything on USA, and probably most shows being made today.)
So, short answer: yes, I do still make music. But mostly I write things that aren’t music. But I love music. Sometimes I say it like this: I’m married to comedy, but it’s an open relationship enough that I’m allowed to hook up with music once in a while. Everyone’s cool!
Q: You have a Masters in Linguistics. What has linguistics taught you about comedy?
A: Nothing. A joke! (But one that I came up with all by myself, with no help from linguistics.) Sometimes people ask if I write the kind of comedy I do because of my degree, or if I went for the degree to help further my comedic endeavors, and the truth is that my brain is the way it is, and my interest in linguistics and the kinds of comedy that I make both come from the brain. And certainly, there’s some interaction in there, but I think my academic interests and my comedic interests are basically both symptoms of the disease that is me. And it’s benign.
Q: What’s your favorite city to perform in?
A:Even if you weren’t asking me from Portland, I might very well say Portland. But especially because you are, the answer is PORTLAND! Sincerely, I do love it. I’ve been to Helium a few times and Bridgetown a few times more, and it’s just such a great city, one that really resonates with me. Cool people and food and comedy and probably other things but those are the main ones.
As for places that aren’t Portland… I love living in NYC because it has the most standup that can be done. I loved starting out at the Comedy Studio in the Boston area and I love going back to that city to perform, which I do frequently. I love Minneapolis, where I’ve been fortunate enough to get to headline Acme a number of times, one of the best clubs across the board that I’ve been to. (Helium is in that category as well.) Other places that are great: San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Athens, Chicago, Austin, DC, and any other city I forgot to mention. If you’re reading this and you’re from another city, that one!
Q: You’re a vegan, yes? Who makes the best vegan food?
A: My friend Claire. She just had a barbecue the other day and had made a vegan cheese-ball type situation that was super. Also, there are a lot of restaurants that also make good food. It’s not a competition. Some places I love in Portland are Natural Selection, Portobello, and Blossoming Lotus. In NYC, there are so many places… Blossom, Candle 79, V-Spot, MOB, Caravan of Dreams… In LA, it’s Sage, and Cafe Gratitude, and Crossroads… is this answer supposed to be funny? Sorry!
Q: What’s your writing process like?
A: I carry a digital recorder around. I say things into it when I think of them, sometimes because of conversations, sometimes because of things I see or hear or sense in other ways, sometimes just because of a thought. Then after the recorder gets full enough, I move all those ideas to a physical notebook. Then when that notebook gets full, I move all those ideas to the computer. Also along the way, I’m trying the ideas out, recording those sets with that same recorder, listening back, and seeing what I’ve said on stage that wasn’t planned, new riffs, extensions, other ideas that arise in the moment, and those things also go into the recorder and the process is constantly starting anew. So, some of it happens off stage, some of it happens on stage, and all of it ends up in my computer a couple times a year.
Q: How does Bridgetown Comedy Festival compare to other festivals you’ve performed in?
A: It’s the best one that I’m talking about right now! Sincerely, it’s a ton of fun and I’ve always enjoyed participating. No other festival has had hours of free video game play for the comedians. I mean, I’ve had great times at most of the festivals I’ve been to, but none of them are in Portland, and as previously discussed, Portland is pretty great. USA! USA!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? What are you currently working on?
A: Sure! I am constantly releasing my podcast, “Hang Out With Me,” which you can find on the Keith and The Girl network. All my albums and videos and things can be found at my site, and starting May 15, people can see my new hour special, “Small, Dork, and Handsome,” on Netflix. Thanks for telling people about it, via me saying these things right now. And thanks for interviewing me in general. I had fun. How did you feel? (The interviewer has become the interviewee! Interview! Whee!)
~Kat Vetrano, Associate Editor
*Photo credit: Myq Kaplan