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The Last Comic Standing?

GRS student competes for stand-up slot in Comedy Central contest

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When Myq Kaplan takes the stage at the Comedy Studio on a Saturdaynight, he grips the microphone in both hands and says, “Let’s haveanother round of applause when I’m done.” The audience at the HarvardSquare club erupts with laughter.

“I saw this commercial at themovies,” Kaplan (GRS’08) continues. “And it spoke to me. It said,” andhere he cups his hands around the microphone’s head and lowers hisvoice, trance-like, “Make fun of me.”

He pauses before resuminghis typical wooden, matter-of-fact tone: “It was an antidrugcommercial. I’m not prodrug, but I am anti–drug commercials.”

It’sa routine he hopes will soon have a larger audience. Earlier thissummer, Kaplan, who makes fun of most anything, was named one of ninesemifinalists for Comedy Central’s “Open Mic Fight,” an American Idolfor unknown stand-up comedians. Chosen by “Open Mic Fight” judges inthree regional competitions, the nine will now participate in an onlinecompetition, from August 6 to 27. Viewers can watch the routines andvote for three comics to advance to the next round, joining ninecomedians previously selected by the judges.

Back at the ComedyStudio, wearing baggy khakis and a nondescript T-shirt, Kaplan, whosecomedy is in his delivery, his word choice, and his ability to slip inquick one-liners when no one is looking, continues: “So in thecommercial there’s a girl in a kitchen, and you hear a voice and thecamera pans over and it’s her dog talking. And the dog’s like,” cuppinghis hands around the microphone head again and lowering his voice,“Don’t smoke pot. You’re a different person when you smoke pot. I missmy friend. Don’t smoke pot.”

“That’s the end of thecommercial,” he says. “But I feel like if it went on for one minutelonger, the girl would say, ‘But I should keep doing mushrooms, right,to facilitate this communication?’”

Kaplan, a graduate studentin linguistics, won BU’s funniest student contest in 2005 and has donemore than 1,000 shows at dozens of comedy clubs across the country. Hewas a semifinalist in the 2006 Boston Comedy Festival and in the 2006Seattle Comedy Competition. In addition to performing stand-upregularly at the Comedy Studio, which the Improper Bostonianrecently named the best comedy club in the city, he and fellow comedianMicah Sherman host the Micah-Myq Club there on Thursday nights. He alsohosts open-mic nights every Monday at Sally O’Brien’s, with comedianDan Hirshon, and does a routine at BU’s Freshman Orientation.

Nowhe has a chance for worldwide exposure. He hopes voters will send himto the next round of “Open Mic Fight,” in Los Angeles on September 6,when judges will pick the top three routines to be posted online. Thewinner will be chosen by viewers. If Kaplan wins the grand prize, hewill appear on Comedy Central’s stand-up program, perform onstage aspart of a Comedy Central tour, have the option to be represented by oneof the comedy industry’s top talent agencies for six months, andreceive $10,000.

“I’m very excited, happy, content,enthusiastic, pleased — feel free to pick any combination or all ofthose,” Kaplan says. “Even if I don’t move beyond this round, I’m veryhappy with my performance. And no matter what, it’s only cause foroptimism for the future.”

Nicole Laskowski can be reached at nicolel@bu.edu.

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