8/29/2013 - Myq Kaplan is a smart comic, the kind who can tell a joke and deconstruct it in the same breath. He’s full of thinking man’s zingers.
“I’ve never met a Buddhist terrorist,” goes one. “What is that, someone who takes longer naps?” Kaplan’s diabolical explanation of why, should it ever exist, using time travel to stop Hitler would be a really bad idea, is brilliant and hilarious.
The New Jersey native took a circuitous route to becoming a full-time stand-up. He was on a grad school path — Brandeis bachelor’s degree followed by the linguistics Master’s program at BU — when he finally surrendered to comedy.
It turned out to be a good choice. Multiple appearances on Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Craig Ferguson’s late night shows, a spot in the final five of Last Comic Standing in 2010, his own Comedy Central special — for Kaplan (his first name’s pronounced like Jordan, not Jagger), it’s been a pretty good run.
At one point, though, he dreamed of being the next Matt Nathanson or Jason Mraz, a sweet-voiced singer/songwriter. Kaplan’s parents had a violin in his hands almost as soon as he could lift one.
“It wasn’t a choice for me to get into music … my brain wasn’t even fully formed when I started,” he said recently from a tour stop in Tennessee. “By the time I was a teenager, I didn’t have to take lessons anymore.”
Kaplan still does a bit of musical comedy; he and a rapper pal from college have an occasional act.
“I am basically married to comedy, but it’s an open marriage that’s allowing me to see music on the side,” he said. “It’s sort of my mistress. I love my wife of comedy but also love that it’s lets me see music. I can do whatever I want, and comedy doesn’t get mad.”
He didn’t grow up wanting to be a comic. He saw Paul Reiser at age 12, “but he was taking about being married and lifelong relationships, which I thought was funny, but I couldn’t relate.” A more significant “a-ha”moment came watching Boston comedian DJ Hazard perform at a college coffee shop.
“I was crying from laughing so hard,” Kaplan said.
Watching stand-up was uncommon, however, so Kaplan began with his own voice.
“I was fortunate because I hadn’t seen a ton of comedy. I wasn’t modeling myself after anyone,” he said. “When I found Mitch Hedberg, I loved him, but I don’t think I wrote jokes in his style. … He had a lot of one-liners, but so does Emo Phillips and Steven Wright and Demetri Martin. It’s a very common format.”
Kaplan borrows a quote about sculptors to describe finding his comedic voice.
“I just take a chunk of marble and chip away at everything that doesn’t look like an elephant; I think that’s essentially the way people’s personas are discovered,” he said. “Which parts of me are the ones that will shine through? I guess whatever I am now is mostly influenced by myself.”
He has new material for his two local shows.
“For the new hour I am formulating, a lot about the main theme is not wanting children,” explained Kaplan, who plans to discuss possible alternatives to parenting, like a tattoo or a drug habit. “But the major gist is not wanting children — so if you have children and you don’t want them, come out and live vicariously through me. If you have kids and you love them, come out and feel sorry for me, feel superior and have a great time. If you don’t have kids and you do want them, come out and be mad at me for being different.”