Myq Kaplan is a stand-up comic you may not have heard of, but that’s probably because he’s not verified on Twitter — yet. But hearing Kaplan’s comedy is as easy as pulling out your smartphone. Kaplan is the host of the “Hang Out with Me” podcast, has five comedy albums and a Netflix special, and has appeared on “Conan,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Comedy Central Presents,” and NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” Starting out in Boston while trying to make it as a musician, Kaplan relocated and worked his way into in the New York comedy scene with his quirky sets covering everything from comic books, robots, and the Internet to his views on monogamy.
The Sound caught up with Kaplan ahead of his upcoming performance at Birdseye Lounge in Portsmouth on Thursday, April 7. He talked about comedy, writing, open relationships, the robot uprising, and why he still doesn’t have the coveted check mark that denotes celebrity status on Twitter.
You have a special on Netflix, you’ve done Comedy Central Presents, you’ve appeared on Letterman and Conan, you’ve toured the country, you were a finalist on Last Comic Standing in 2010. You had one of the top-selling comedy albums on iTunes — how are you not verified on Twitter?
I don’t have the answer to your question, but feel free to put in a call to Twitter and ask them. Or maybe don’t call. What’s the best way to get in touch with Twitter? Do they have a Facebook page? Also, I’m a renegade. I live off the grid, except for being on Twitter and all the other sites that I’m a part of. I live in between the grid. What? That doesn’t mean anything? Well, then my work here is done.
More people have access to comedy and comedians than ever before, thanks to social media and streaming services like Amazon and Netflix. Some might describe it as a comedy bubble, similar to what happened in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Do you think there’s a comedy bubble? Do you think it will burst?
I’ve heard it said, possibly by Lao Tzu, thanks to some quick googling, that “those who have knowledge, don’t predict; those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” Point being, I’m as wise as a famous wise person because I have no idea.
While I don’t know about the future, I do know some things about the past, probably, and I don’t know if the bubble bursting the way it did a few decades ago could be replicated, because as far as I understand it, one result of it was making it so there really is no one centralized place to get comedy, like the way standups were really aiming for that coveted spot on Carson’s “Tonight Show,” which millions and millions of people would watch, and which could potentially make your career the next day. Today, I don’t know if there is a bubble or if it could burst, because of how diverse the means and mechanisms of delivering one’s comedy to the world are. Unless the electrical grid goes down forever. Then we’re back to just doing live shows in the dark and getting eaten by zombies or the robots who got the grid back up but now control it. Robots! I live between the grid! I am one of you! Let’s talk!
A lot of comedians talk about New York and Los Angeles as the two big comedy cities. You cut your teeth in Boston’s comedy scene. Why do you think Boston, which also gave the world Marc Maron and Louis C.K., among others, isn’t looked at the same way?
I think one major reason is just the sheer size and scope of those two cities compared to Boston. With some more googling, I found that both the greater NYC and LA areas have around 20 million people living there, as opposed to under 5 million in the Boston area. With greater population comes greater recognition, said Peter Parker’s geography teacher, I think.
I don’t know if there is a bubble or if it could burst, because of how diverse the means and mechanisms of delivering one’s comedy to the world are. Unless the electrical grid goes down forever. Then we’re back to just doing live shows in the dark and getting eaten by zombies or the robots who got the grid back up but now control it.
In my experience in NYC, that bears out. More people means more comedy venues, more shows, more audience members, more comedians, and while of course quantity doesn’t equal quality, the greater the quantity, the more likely that some of that quantity could be higher quality, especially because if comedians from other towns know of how much opportunity there might be in NYC, many experienced comedians from those other towns often move to NYC, increasing the quantity and quality quotients, quite.
Also, NYC has a lot of media, TV, production companies, that sort of thing. And I hear LA might have some show business as well. I would say that I do believe Boston does have a great reputation for being a wonderful comedic stomping ground, historically right up through currently. It’s a great place to start doing comedy, and return to if you’ve left, in my experience.
You’ve spoken about your views on monogamy both in your comedy and on podcasts like Nerdist. How has that affected you professionally and personally? What’s someone’s typical first response when you tell them you’re in an open relationship?
Well, my girlfriend is my girlfriend because she heard me talking about things exactly like this on my podcast and other podcasts, and it resonated with her so much (along with other things she enjoyed about what she heard from me) that she wrote me a nice fan letter. A few months later we met, continued getting to know one another, fell in love, and kept doing and being that for the next two years, and now it’s now.
Before I was with my girlfriend, if I met someone who hadn’t heard me talk about my views on open relationships, either in my comedy or on podcasts, people would react in a variety of ways. Some people were down, some people were less down, and pretty much everyone appreciated my being upfront about it, I would say. So, personally, it’s affected me very positively at best, and neutral at worst. Even the times when telling someone that open relationships are what I prefer has led to my not being with that person in a way I might have liked to, that’s also positive, I would say, because neither of us would benefit being in a relationship when we lack compatibility on an important issue, like “what kind of relationship we have.”
As far as how it’s affected me professionally, I don’t know that it has, other than it’s a thing that I talk about professionally on stage sometimes, like anything else in my life. I don’t think it’s cost me any jobs — has it? What do you know? What have you heard? I mean, I think I’m fine. And sometimes it leads to fun conversations on podcasts or questions to answer in professional interviews, like this. So, net positive here as well, thanks for asking!
In the past, has your partner had an issue with you using your relationship in your comedy?
My girlfriend enjoys my comedy and how I do it, and whenever I have material that’s about her, I let her know and ask what she thinks about it, and as far as I can remember she’s always told me to do it. She likes being a part of my life and my comedy, which is also a part of my life. Sometimes we’ve had disagreements or difficult times, and sometimes those have led to joke ideas as well, but she’s always been supportive and said she trusts me to use my judgment and to be kind and fair and thoughtful with what I express, regarding her and in general. I don’t remember other girlfriends having problems either, but also in the past, I might not have talked as much about my relationship life.