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Myq Takes the Mic

BU’s Kaplan fights to be the Last Comic Standing

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In the video above, comedian Myq Kaplan performs a set at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, a New York comedy club, and discusses what it’s like to write and perform comedy.

Last Monday, comedian Myq Kaplan faced the biggest audience of his career: 5 million viewers tuned in to see which of the 10 finalists on NBC’s hit reality comedy competition Last Comic Standing would survive.

Facing elimination before a national audience was a new experience for the 31-year-old stand-up comic, who began performing in clubs for free. “Not knowing what would happen was nerve-wracking,” Kaplan (GRS’09) says. “My performance last week got a great response, but it’s easy to second guess yourself.” His stress soon turned to elation when he found out he’d been voted on to the next round.

Kaplan describes his comedy as “cerebral and wordy.” He often draws on his own life for inspiration. References to his vegan diet, his liberal political views, and his thoughts on religion appear frequently in his material.

The young comedian studied linguistics as a graduate student at Boston University, an interest that complemented his passion for writing and performing comedy. “They spring from the same well: a love for language, communication, semantics, and humor,” he says. Wordplay permeates his jokes (“Many rap albums contain a warning on their covers: ‘May include explicit lyrics.’ If I ever write a rap album, I’ll have a warning for implicit lyrics. My lyrics are going to be like: ‘You know what I’m going to do. Use your imagination.’”) and even his adopted moniker. In the early 1990’s, when the pop star Prince morphed his signature into a symbol, Kaplan was inspired to change the spelling of his name from “Mike” to “Myk” and finally to “Myq.”

But stand-up comedy was always his top priority. During his eight years at BU, Kaplan worked as a senior resident assistant on Bay State Road. The security of free room and board allowed him to hone his art. In 2008, he took the plunge and moved to New York to become a full-time comedian.

By his own estimate, Kaplan has performed more than 2,500 times. He paid his dues opening for other comedians under “bringer crowd” conditions, where comedians guarantee to bring ten to 15 paying friends who also promise to buy drinks. Since then, he’s commanded laughs at famous venues such as Caroline’s on Broadway, headlined a special on Comedy Central Presents, and even appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

But arguably the most important gig of Kaplan’s career is his current role as a finalist on season seven of Last Comic Standing. The financial stakes are huge. The first-prize winner will receive a check for $250,000, a chance to appear on a nationwide Last Comic Standing tour that begins in September, and an exclusive talent deal with NBC.

But win or lose, Kaplan is already benefiting from the exposure the show has given him. His agents have received an increase in bookings, he says.

Newfound fame also means more run-ins with fans. While walking through Park Slope in Brooklyn recently, Kaplan heard a garbage truck approach and someone yell out, “Is that Myq from Last Comic Standing?” After Kaplan confirmed, the guy cheered, “Good sh—!” and drove off. Kaplan admits it feels weird to be saluted by strangers, but he enjoys the support: it’s a welcome development for a man who once dreamed of having an audience.

Kaplan will appear on NBC’s Last Comic Standing tonight at 9 p.m. After the show, viewers can vote for their favorite comedians by phone or online. Last Comic Standing airs every Monday until the season finale on August 9. More of Kaplan’s comedy is available on his album Vegan Mind Meld, Live at Comix!

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

3 Comments

3 Comments on Myq Takes the Mic

  • Anonymous on 07.26.2010 at 6:26 am

    What a great profile featuring a fabulous, smart … very smart … comic. Having had the pleasure to work with Myq when he was a Senior RA, then perform with him on stage at “BU’s funniest student” and the BU Alumni Comedy show, I have seen him grow to a SOLID and go-to stage presence. His work is beyond that of other young comics today, specifically due to his intellectual curiosity and his comedic point of view.

    I had written off “Last Comic Standing” several years ago because none of the finalists were unable to keep my interest. But now, with Myq in the final stages, Monday night at 9:00 has become “appointment television”.

    Now I know why my household has 4 cell phones, a land line and 3 computers. All to vote for Myq! VOTE MYQ and save funny!

  • Anonymous on 07.26.2010 at 10:12 pm

    Next round...

    Myq, congratulations on making it to the next round of Last Comic Standing! Keep up the great (funny) work!

  • Brad on 07.27.2010 at 8:38 pm

    Loving Myq Kaplan – I found a CD by him on iTunes and it is HILLARIOUS :)

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