Sure vegans save lives, live longer, and contribute to a greener earth. But apparently, we can be funny too. Throughout his career, vegan comedian Myq Kaplan has brought some much-needed humor to the meatless table. And on this past season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, his smart humor and sharp wit was expanded into America’s living rooms. Though he did not take home the $250,000 grand prize, he did place in the top five, and has since gained immense popularity and extended his reach. Before the Last Comic Standing tour begins in September, Kaplan had a chance to chat with VegNews about veganism, the show, and all-around funny business.
VegNews: How long have you been vegan? What made you first commit to the lifestyle?
Myq Kaplan: I’ve been vegan about eight years, and was vegetarian for maybe five years before that. I remember thinking in high school that eating animals seemed wrong, but they were delicious, so oh well, which is the way I believe a lot of humans think. But when I got to college, the dining halls had more variety, and I just decided to try giving up meat. Because there were so many more options I’d never had, it wasn’t like I was restricting myself, and I was glad for my beliefs to line up more with my actions. I went through a similar mindset-shifting process when I became vegan; I thought it might be too difficult (having to read labels or ask questions all the time), but figured why not give it a shot. So I did, and it’s been working so far.
VN: Congratulations on your success on Last Comic Standing. How would you describe the experience?
MK: Thanks very much. It’s a surreal kind of thing, because competitions aren’t necessarily a natural part of comedy. In comedy, if you’re talented and work hard, everyone can succeed, whereas on this show only one person “wins.” But the rest of us get so much airtime and exposure to millions of people who wouldn’t have seen us otherwise, so getting as far as I did is a huge deal regardless. It was nerve-wracking week-to-week, but overall a rewarding experience. Though there was no reward of $250,000, which would have been nice, but I’m sure I’ll win the lottery someday anyway. No big
VN: What was your relationship like with the other contestants? Did you ever discuss veganism with them?
MK: I’m pretty friendly with everyone on the show. I believe veganism comes up every so often, at mealtimes and the like. If people ask me questions, I answer them. I generally try not to force the issue at all, but if people are curious, I like providing reasonable amounts of information.
VN: How do you think your vegan lifestyle is reflected in your comedy? How do you think the two intersect?
MK: I write jokes about things that I experience, and that certainly includes my dietary choices and my ethics in general. I think this aspect of who I am gives me a perspective that not a lot of other comedians have. I’m happy to be able to talk about the things that are important to me in ways that can be relatable, and ideally funny and insightful to the people who might not share the same views (which I know is where most people are coming from, so it’s always a welcome challenge to make my fringe viewpoint palatable to a carnivorous crowd.)
VN: Do you think that by being on Last Comic Standing you’ve introduced more people to veganism?
MK: I think society is definitely becoming more aware of it regardless, maybe more on the coasts than in the middle. But if I’ve reached people who haven’t ever thought about it, then great. I know that some people have a knee-jerk reaction to the topic, as though anything a vegan says is going to be patronizing and disdainful to other lines of thinking, so I do my best to try and undercut that. I can generally just be myself and say the things I believe, and hope that people listen and understand.
VN: What’s your favorite thing to eat on the road while touring?MK: While touring, I rarely cook. I like performing in cities such as San Francisco or Portland because they have really vibrant vegan restaurant scenes, and I’m a big fan of supporting such venues. Sometimes I’ll find myself in a place where the best I can do is a vegetable sandwich at Subway, or the local Chinese restaurant that hopefully exists, or a supermarket that sells fruit with no meat in it.
VN: What are your plans after Last Comic Standing? How do you think it has propelled your career?
MK: My plans are to continue to do comedy, both touring the country and in New York City where I live. The show has let a lot of people know who I am, which should hopefully work in my favor. Also it’s opened a lot of doors for interviews with vegan magazines.
Want to see Kaplan in action? Win two tickets to Myq Kaplan’s performance in San Francisco, Sept. 10, at The Warfield! Just email your name and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, Aug. 27, for a chance to attend this can’t-miss performance.