by John Wenzel on July 7, 2009
Moshe Kasher ponders his upbeat, life affirming wit in the most appropriate of places. Photo from MySpace.com.
As we first told you on Friday, one of our favorite new comedians, Moshe Kasher, is hitting Comedy Works South later this week for a set of shows destined to turn that frown upside down, then sideways , then rip it off your face.
Check out the second half of our Q&A with the 29-year-old Bay Area native, who recently won “Best of the Fest” at the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, in advance of his shows at Comedy Works Thursday-Saturday.
What’s your advice for people trying to get into comedy?
My advice is “don’t.” It’s the kind of thing that will test you. I mean, I’m not trying to make myself out to be some sort of civil rights worker or something. It’s an ego trip, obviously. Children in Ski Lanka don’t need me telling them jokes. But unless you have no other choice but to do comedy, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere.
Do you feel like you have no choice?
I’m definitely at the point where I can’t see myself doing anything else. There must be something that keeps me here. I feel like I’m painting this picture of this morbid existence, but there’s also a lot of hedonism to it.
What bigger, more exciting thing is there than for me to make a living standing on stage with no distractions talking about whatever I want to talk about? On the other hand, I feel very lucky to be in the position that I’m in. There’ s a lot of awful comedians that never give up, but there’s also a lot of very funny people never get any recognition at all. So I can’t complain, basically. And the anonymous sex is good.
You say it’s a hedonistic lifestyle, and truly a lot of comedians are just black holes for booze and drugs. But you don’t drink or anything, do you?
I don’t drink or do drugs but I would probably not call it an “ascetic lifestyle.” I’m clean and sober and I have been for a long time. Having started stand-up comedy, you see this world and there’s free booze flowing and there are people who would love to watch you destroy yourself because it’s unbelievably funny. There’s a culture of “we want to watch you destroy yourself.”
Did you have a problem with drinking or drugs in the past?
I’ll only tell you in the context of this one man show I wrote… I recently completed a one-man show that’s basically about my teenage years. There’s plenty of comedy in my life because there’s been plenty of ridiculous and hilarious tragedy. As a young man I was incarcerated a lot, in rehab a lot. I sort of popped my head out of my ass at a very young age. That’s something that informs me and who I am.
“Everyone You Know Is Going to Die,” your first comedy album on Rooftop, was just released and is already on the main page of iTunes.
Yeah, one of the guys from iTunes after the (Aspen) festival really loved my set and put my album in the What We’re Listening To section. The album is the thing I’ve done in my career that I’m most proud of so far. Although, it’s more than a stand-up comedy set. I’ve always been very reluctant to sell someone the set they just watched. It’s got sketches and different things on it too.
You’ve performed outside of mainstream comedy clubs at dive bars, art galleries and alternative variety shows. How’s your stuff translating to regular comedy clubs now that you’re touring nationally?
This is where I think I was at an advantage coming out of San Francisco. In New York and L.A., especially in New York, it feels like the alternative scene and the club scene are two completely separate worlds, and that’s not ever been in true in San Francisco. Maybe out of necessity, because it’s not as big a community. But Brent Weinbach is the alt darling of San Francisco and also a Punchline headliner. That’s my home club where I felt very cultivated. At the same time we were doing these Smug Shift shows and the SF Sketchfest people were very into that. So I think of my comedy as the halfway point between the club and the alt thing. I’m not a fully traditional stand-up, but also not somebody mumbling incoherently on stage with 15 notebooks.
Is there anything you want to add?
To the people of Denver, I just wanna say I know it might be scary having a Jew come to town. I don’t want to be there either, so we just have to work though this together. I wanna say to Ted Haggard that he’s invited. If he would come I would be so excited that I would totally hook him up with my little brother.