Myq Kaplan’s job description is pretty hard to one-up: travel the planet, make people laugh, and canoodle with famous people. But is the life of a vegan comedian all it’s cracked up to be? Based on our recent conversation with the 38-year-old stand-up performer, we’d say yes … and then some. With television appearances on Late Show with David Letterman, CONAN, and The Late Late Show with James Corden, a role in the 2016 film Punching Henry, and hosting the “Hang Out with Me” podcast, Kaplan is busier than ever but doesn’t allow a hectic schedule to get in the way of his cruelty-free beliefs. In this exclusive interview, Kaplan discusses why he went vegan, his favorite city in which to perform, and all the snacks he carries in his travel bag.
VegNews: Standing before a crowd of people is the stuff of nightmares for some. What motivates you to get up on stage each night?
Myq Kaplan: Everyone has different nightmares. I have a friend who is a black belt martial artist but has social anxiety. I am a black-belt socializer but would have martial-arts anxiety if put to the test.
VN: Recently, you performed your Small, Dork, and Handsome set on the Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise. What’s the most unusual or unexpected venue you’ve performed in?
MK: What if I said a vegan cruise? That is certainly up there. I’ve performed shows for children at a summer camp, for breakfast-eaters at a diner at 7am, for teenagers locked in their school after prom, for people surviving cancer in a community home, and for an Orthodox Jewish congregation in their temple. Doing comedy itself is unusual, so I’d say they’re all tied for equally unusual.
VN: Why did you go vegan?
MK: I was born vegan—I hadn’t had any meat before I was born, unless you count what my mom ate. I grew up eating pretty standard American meat food: burgers, hot dogs, pasta, pizza. I remember in high school thinking it would be great if we didn’t have to kill animals to live and then thinking, “Oh well, too bad that’s impossible.” Then, in college, there was a vegetarian station in the dining hall. My friends brought me to restaurants featuring cuisine I’d never had, like Ethiopian, Indian, Vietnamese, Cambodian. I learned more about factory farms and decided to give going vegetarian a shot. And it worked! I did that for a few years, eventually determining that the mistreatment of animals in the meat industry was the same as the mistreatment of animals in the dairy industry, so to be logically consistent as possible, and to live as kindly as possible, I realized that veganism was the answer for me. It’s important for me to be both logical and kind.
VN. Describe your average day.
MK: Wake sometime around 8ish. Meditate for 20 minutes. Go to 750words.com, and write at least 750 words. Write in my journal about what happened the day before, and give that day a holiday name or multiple names (one of today’s holiday names might be “Answering VegNews Interview Questions Day”). Walk outside if it’s nice, ideally somewhere green. Talk to my friend Zach Sherwin on the phone multiple times. Talk to other friends on the phone or in person, maybe over tea. Eat food at some point. Read. Email. Write jokes, and post them online. Listen to recent comedy sets. Write more jokes. Think. Relax. Love people. Tell people I love them. Do a comedy show. Do another comedy show. Repeat until done with all the comedy shows. Sleep. Something like that.
VN: Where is your favorite city to perform?
MK: It’s almost unfair to focus on one, but I will. I spent this past weekend in Portland for the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and it was one of my favorite weekends alive. I’ve always loved Portland—bookstores, vegan restaurants, cool theaters and comedy venues, nice people, coffeeshops, trees. So many of my friends were there for this festival, and so many people who weren’t my friends but now are my friends. I know that not every time I go to Portland will necessarily be like that, but now every time I go there either physically or in my mind, this experience will permeate my consciousness with the love I felt and still continue to feel.
VN: Do you travel with snacks? If so, what kind?
MK: Kale chips. Barbecue-flavored things of any kind. Trail mix. Lentil wraps. Gopal’s Power Wraps. Dried mango. Almonds. Apples. I’m flying right now and just looking through my bag at what I have … date rolls, peanut butter and jelly cookie sandwiches, Beanfields chips.
VN: Favorite vegan restaurant?
MK: Again, I have lots of favorites, but the first one that springs to mind is Shojin in Los Angeles, and my favorite sushi roll there is called “Pirates of the Crunchy.”
VN: Describe the most rock star experience.
MK: This one time, VegNews asked me a question about feeling like a rock star, and it made me feel like a rock star.
VN: Tofu or Tempeh?
MK: Both. But tempeh.
VegNews travel + beauty editor Aurelia d’Andrea thinks she might be Myq Kaplan’s biggest fan, but not in a weird and creepy way.
Photo courtesy of Mindy Tucker
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