What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.
I’ve known Myq Kaplan since before we both moved to New York. I was a newspaper reporter at the Boston Herald, covering pop culture, entertainment and comedy, and Kaplan was a young aspiring stand-up comedian and graduate student at Boston University.
Oh, how we’ve all grown up since then. I’ve established this here online operation, while Kaplan has performed on Conan (Tonight Show edition!) and enjoyed a lengthy primetime TV run on the most recent season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. It’s about time you learned more about Myq.
So let’s get to it! Meet Me In New York is back.
Name: Myq Kaplan
Arrival date: July/August 2008
Arrived from: Boston, MA
When and where did you start performing comedy? 2002, Boston
What was your best credit before moving here? Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, June 2008
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? 1) New York was the closest city to Boston with a bigger standup comedy scene, and I liked the idea of not moving too far.
2) New York has the biggest standup comedy scene in this country, and I wanted to stay in this country for now. And do standup.
3) LA also obviously has a lot going on, but rather than immediately trying to jump into the acting/TV/movies pool, I wanted to stay in the standup pond for the time being.
4) I met a girl who lived in NYC and wanted to be with her geographically. And biblically. So, bibliographically. I have a meticulous reference list of our time together.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? I believe I did a small show booked by a fellow comedian and friend which paid a small amount that August. And I believe I had been paid to do a spot at Comix a few months before moving here. So, in no time! Or negative time! Though it did take some (positive) time before such gigs came with any sense of regularity.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? This scene is so the same… HOW THE SAME IS IT? Sincerely, Boston and New York do have a lot in common. They both have some number of full-time clubs and smaller venues, varied audiences, wonderful comedians to watch and work alongside, etc. I guess the main difference that can be seen as better or worse is the size. New York’s scene is much much larger, which means on the one hand, many more clubs to work, many more small venues to perform in, just a vastly larger measure of stagetime to be had. That said, there’s also many more comedians seeking to fill that stagetime, so it’s easier to get lost in the shuffle, more complicated to get in some places, more difficult to stand out; Boston was a place that starting out seemed like a simple enough path to get started on, and once you were on your way to becoming a comedian there, you could really get going on the work of being a comedian there. And in Boston, one of the best things about the size of the community that it was just that: a community, of people who wished each other the best, played softball together, gave the lower quantity of shows a higher quantity of support, and just really were encouraging of one another and tight-knit in a way that New York’s scene can’t have, because of its sheer volume. Though New York does have a number of more localized communities that center around certain venues or scenes, and it’s nice to have access to as many of those as you can here as well. I guess in conclusion I would say, New York is better because it’s bigger, and Boston is better because it’s smaller. So they’re the same because they’re both better.
Do you already have an “only in New York City” moment yet? Only in New York can you be interviewed for an interview series called “Meet me in New York.” I think.
Or what about this, if this is more real and to the point…One time I was parked on 2nd Avenue (a street that is only in NYC), and a drunk guy thought my car was a taxi and tried to get in the front passenger seat and I had to shoo him away. Because he was too drunk to remember that you get in the BACK of a taxi. Only in New York do people get that drunk. Maybe that happens other places too. I guess my answer is no, not yet. But I’m working on it.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Go everywhere. Meet everyone. Do everything. Comedy-wise, that is. Don’t waste your time on the rest of the wonders that this beautiful and amazing city has to offer. Just take advantage of the fact that at any given time, there are probably seven comedy shows going on for you to either watch or take part in. Also, feel free to enjoy the rest of your non-comedy life, if you have one. That can be rewarding as well. But it’s up to the individual. Be yourself. But yourself that recycles more. That’s multiple tips. And that’s just the tip of the tip iceberg. Have fun!
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
1) Looking back on the day that I became psychic.
2) Still not answering interview questions seriously.
3) Doing standup comedy. (Look, it’s like the rule of three, but instead of two setups and a funny third thing, I did two jokes and a serious thing third.)
Sincerely, I love doing standup, and I couldn’t have predicted that I’d be where I am today five years ago, so I wouldn’t want to speculate about the future any more than this. I hope to be alive and doing what I’m doing, for people who want it done.
With that, please enjoy this clip of Myq perfoming on Conan O’Brien’s late, great version of the Tonight Show.
You can see Kaplan at clubs and independent venues in New York City, or on the road. He’s at Dick Doherty’s at the end of this month, and in Atlanta in November. Check Myq Kaplan’s official site for his updated tour schedule.
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com