With the recent Beyonce vegan debacle, it's easy to lose faith on so-called vegans in the public eye. Well, comedian Myq Kaplan [sic] is the real deal. He's a 2010 last comic standing finalist and has appeared on the tonight show, the late show with David Letterman, comedy central presents, Conan, and many other places that you might not care about. You can listen to Myq’s podcast, Hang Out with Me, on the Keith and the Girl Network. his debut CD, Vegan Mind Meld, was one of iTunes’ top ten best-selling comedy albums in 2010, followed by Meat Robot in 2013 and the upcoming Small, Dork, and Handsome in 2014. And he needs to update his website bio… (it’s 2015) the most important aspect of Myq for our purposes is that he’s vegan, which defines him over everything else he may identify himself by and outshines any other accomplishment he’s ever made. [tweet this]
Recently Myq was traveling across the country moving his girlfriend Kasey and simultaneously doing a tour, and I was fortunate enough to snag a bit of their time.
For Myq's full story (and Ooby the bulldog's interruptions) be sure to checkout the video above but here are some choice nuggets:
On his vegan and showbiz journey:
“I think like many people, I grew up eating meat because that was normal, you know, the thing that your parents did it. In high school, I remember thinking ‘maybe it’ll be good to not kill animals’, and then I was like ‘but burgers’, so I just kept eating. Then when I got to college…there was a vegetarian station in the dining hall and there was a lot of different foods. And i was like ‘maybe I’ll give it a shot’. I’ll try being vegetarian and if I fail, then I’ll stop. and then it just worked so I did that for a while, and that sort of became my new normal dietary wise. And some people were like ‘well, isn’t it limiting to have less food?’ But it was actually…I never had Indian food, or Cambodian food, or tons of different kinds of Asian food. There was all this stuff that I wasn’t…you know, I just grew up eating like pizza pretty much, and burgers, and hot dogs. And so, I was like ‘there’s so much more food. Did you guys know?’. Maybe everybody already knew. But I don’t feel like most people who are making that assessment or like necessarily all the most adventurous. They are the foodiest foodies. [tweet this]
“Then a few years after college, probably when I was around 24, I had read some Peter Singer stuff about animal rights, animal liberation, and learned about factory farming…I think here’s the reason to become vegan so you don’t have to watch anymore of the horrendous movies: The meat industry and the dairy industry are intravenously linked. So, if you’re like ‘I don’t like how the meat farmers are treating their animals’, then the dairy farmers, they’re the same.[tweet this] It’s the same animal, it’s the same treatment so, that’s when I became vegan. And that’s also right around when I started doing comedy, I think unrelatedly. I started doing comedy…I was a musician sort of inspiring. I was starting my vegetarian and music career at the same time. and then shifted to a vegan, and comedy, also paralleled paths but unrelated.”
On being vegan in the public eye:
“I don’t talk about being vegan all the time. I think every album that I've put out has some jokes about it, but it’s not like extensively, exclusively all that I talk about because it’s not all that I am, or think about, or the way life. Obviously you eat food every day but there’s other…hopefully you’re doing other things too. …
“The way I come at it is I know that most people aren’t vegan. Most people aren’t vegetarians. And that there are, sort of stereotypes and connotations, and I think misconceptions like the classic sort of joke about the vegan is, ‘How do you know someone’s a vegan? They’ll tell you.’ Which is i understand is a, good joke, whoever came up with it. But there’s so many people…of course the ones that tell you they’re vegan are, but there’s so many people- there’s stealth vegans out there. There’s people just living their life, not making a big deal about it, but of course you wouldn’t know because they’re not making a big deal about it. It’s like, you don’t have to be an activist, you know, picketing, in order to change your diet to be, you know, either more environmental, healthier in some ways, or better to animals in a lot of ways. You can do whatever degree of whatever you want. And so for me, I’m not necessarily coming at it to be an activist.”
On veganism and comedy:
“I think that another thing a lot of people do respond to, which is ‘oh yeah, the things that you’re saying make sense’. Like most people- most people who aren’t sociopaths [would say] ‘If i could have the same life as I have now but also fewer beings experience unnecessary suffering, yeah, I’m on board with that’, and that’s the place that I’m coming from when I talk about it in comedy or otherwise. I’m not trying to shame people–or if i do it’s like jokingly. I understand how vegans are perceived. One of the first jokes that I wrote was ‘I’m a vegetarian, are there any other douchebags here?’. and then I’ll say ‘I’m not here to push my views on you. you can go on living incorrectly all you want’. Louis C.K. had a great joke once about, I think it was something like, ‘I know that killing animals is wrong. I just don’t care that it’s wrong’. I think that encapsulates where most people are with respect to that issue and most issues that are say, questionably sort of the grey areas of the ethics between what we want to do and what we do.”
On fame and TV appearances: [tweet this]
“The same way that every year you have a birthday and someone is like, ‘Do you feel older?’ No, because it’s just a day older than yesterday which was a day older. You see yourself in the mirror everyday if you look in the mirror everyday. And then 6 months go by, and you see a friend that you haven’t seen in 6 months, and they’re ‘Oh, your hair is a lot longer, you’ve lost weight’, or whatever it is. … And so, similarly with gaining experience in the comedy world, whether you’re getting on TV more. It used to be, probably in the 80’s, you get on Carson and then millions and millions of people would see you. The whole country would be watching and then your career would be legitimately, objectively different the next day. They’d be like ‘well, now you’re working all the time’. Whereas now there is no sort of like, ‘king maker’ or ‘queen maker’, or whatever big royalty. There is no magic bullet; I don’t like violence. There is no potion.
“Once in a while someone will see me on the street, like when i was doing last comic standing, and said ‘Hey, i just saw you on that thing’. That was probably the one where the most people were watching week after week, millions of people. And so, iId say every week a couple of people recognize me. It’s never gotten to the point where I’m like ‘uh god, please leave me alone’.
“It was always a nice thing to be recognized to the point where, here’s the thing–this is a dumb ‘worst thing’–a very champagne problem: I was in Toronto a couple of months ago and I went to this vegan restaurant. I think I get recognized more in vegan restaurants and comic book stores than anywhere else. Maybe because there’s a higher concentration of people who be more likely to have seen or enjoyed my comedy there. But a guy who was working at the restaurant was like ‘Myq Kaplan!’. I was like ‘oh hey, thank you’, and he was like ‘We worked at a summer camp together’. I was like ‘oh yeah, of course. good to see you’.”
On connecting to a bigger audience:
“But ‘has doing what I’ve done or accomplished what I've accomplished’ changed me?, Every…every moment changes me. But I feel very fortunate that all the things that I have achieved, you know, measures of success wise. Those landmarks, getting to do Letterman for the first time. Getting to do the tonight show. Getting to do a Comedy Central half hour…having a special. All those things now are just things that I’m glad…the thing that I’m most glad for is that, it gets my comedy out there for people who would enjoy it, to find it. So, that now they can come to live shows. They can buy new CD’s. They can just listen to my podcast. They can take in more of what I’m putting out. to just enable me to keep my comedy machine flowing.”
On how he met his girlfriend Kasey:
“One specific thing that came out of doing comedy and gaining a higher profile amongst people who watch comedy, and listen to comedy is i do a lot of podcasts, I have a podcast, and Kasey met me, found out about me because of that. She listened to the podcast ‘Keith and the Girl’ that I was on, a frequent guest on, and my podcast is on their network. So, she found my podcast through that, and we met because she wrote me an email that said she listened, and enjoyed what I said, who I was, and what I did. then when she was living in California and I was living in New York. So, when I was in California, I would go there sometimes and she came to some shows, and we met, and that’s why we know each other. That, I would say right now, that is the biggest way in which doing comedy has changed my life in a specific way for the best.”
And I finally asked Kasey if she wanted to add anything and loved her response:
“I will say that my own vegan choices were really inspired by hearing Myq talk about them. So, I think it’s good for public people to keep expressing their opinions because it really does create change, and I want to show it to people.”
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Myq and Kasey at the tail end. Stay tuned to the channel for part two with them where we discuss how to mix humor with something so often serious as veganism and how Myq manages to be an optimistic vegan, which is a bit like a minotaur riding a unicorn into Narnia. And you can also find all the links to connect with Myq down below.
I’d love to hear what you thought of what Myq had to say in the comments!
Bite Size Podcast–Vegan Audio Magic (Where you can hear my interview from Myq's podcast).
Connect with Myq: