Myq Takes the Mic
“Not knowing what would happen was nerve-wracking,” says comedian Myq Kaplan on facing the biggest audience of his career. Five million viewers tuned in to Last Comic Standing to see which contestants on NBC’s hit reality show would survive. “My performance got a great response, but it’s easy to second-guess yourself,” says Kaplan who was elated when he found out he’d been voted on to the finals.
Three weeks later, he was eliminated.
Kaplan’s appearances on Last Comic Standing, America’s Got Talent, and on late night shows with Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, James Corden and Seth Myers have catapulted his career, generating a critical mass of fans to warrant his own one-hour stand-up shows on Netflix and Amazon. But Kaplan admits that it’s not under the bright lights where he feels most at home.
College campuses breed audiences Kaplan has found to be more sophisticated. They don’t heckle, unlike at bars, where it feels to him like the Wild West. Instead, they cheer when he references his vegan diet, liberal political views, and his thoughts on religion. They also get Kaplan’s offbeat sense of humor, which he describes as “cerebral and wordy.”
Back at Boston University, while studying in a graduate linguistics program, Kaplan laid the groundwork for his career. “Linguistics and comedy spring from the same well,” says Kaplan, now a master of semantics whose wordplay permeates his monologues.
“Many rap albums contain a warning on their covers: ‘May include explicit lyrics,’” says Kaplan. “If I ever write a rap album, I’ll have a warning for implicit lyrics. My lyrics are going to be like: ‘You know what I’m going to do. Use your imagination.’” Sometimes, his joke is just a random thought: “When I die, I want to have my remains scattered over a beautiful park. I don’t want to be cremated, though.”
Even Kaplan’s adopted moniker is a play on words. Inspired by pop star legend Prince’s various name permutations that eventually involved into a symbol, Kaplan altered the spelling of his name from “Mike” to “Myk” and finally to “Myq.”
As Kaplan was building his audience, he worked as a senior resident assistant at Boston University. The security of free food and housing gave him the freedom to hone his art before moving to New York to become a full-time comedian. Kaplan paid his dues opening for other comedians under “bringer crowd” conditions, where comedians guarantee to bring 10 to 15 paying friends who also promise to buy drinks.
Now, Kaplan has more than 44K Twitter followers and loyal fans who attend his shows across the globe and tune in to his weekly podcasts. Newfound fame has also meant more recognition. Walking through Park Slope in Brooklyn recently, Kaplan heard someone in a garbage truck yell out, “Is that Myq from Last Comic Standing?” When Kaplan acknowledged, the worker cheered, “Good sh—!”
Kaplan admits it feels weird to be recognized by strangers, but he is grateful. It’s a welcome development for a man who once only dreamed of having an audience.
RT: 4 min
Credits | Robin Berghaus
Writer, Director, Producer, Editor, Still Photographer and Cinematographer
Comedian Myq Kaplan performs a set at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and discusses what its like to write and perform comedy.