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Myq Kaplan

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Jamie: Ok, I’m here with the brilliantly funny Myq Kaplan. Thanks for taking the time out to do a quick interview Myq, I appreciate that.

Myq: I appreciate you taking the time to interview me. Thank YOU.

Jamie: I start everyone off with a question about the cause, so let’s get right to that. What is it about cancer aide and awareness that made you want to get involved? Was it just a general compassion, or have you had the misfortune of witnessing someone go through it?

Myq: I always want to do anything I can to help whatever suffering exists.

Jamie: Let’s go back to the early stages of your career. You actually got your start in music, tell us a little bit about that.

Myq: My parents were music teachers and I played the violin since I was four. I didn’t really like it but I had to, which I’m ultimately glad for because those skills helped me teach myself the guitar quickly as a teenager. That became my first dream, to be a singer-songwriter for a living. In college, I began pursuing that wherever I could, and one of the places that let me play some songs was a comedy club called the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, MA.

Jamie: How much do you still dabble in music? Are we going to see any future releases?

Myq: I play the guitar for fun whenever possible, or whatever stringed instruments are lying around. I also actually enjoy playing the violin from time to time now again, because my girlfriend plays it as well. We’ve started having fun improvising together, not for any released recordings right now, but who knows about the future! (Answer: no one.) I also do still write and perform musical comedy songs with my good friend Micah Sherman. A few years ago we released an album called “Please Be Seated” and this year we put out a mixtape called the Micah Myq Mega Mixtape. And finally, my good friend, wonderful comedy rapper Zach Sherwin, and I have been writing podcast theme songs and producing them with the help of my other good friend Sam Kusnetz. We’re thinking of putting out a mini-album of all of them (they’re only about 20 seconds each) but right now they can all be heard for free at the beginning of podcasts like “Hang Out With Me” (that’s mine), “Here We Are” (our friend Shane Mauss), “Universe City” (Joe Zimmerman, Jono Zalay, and Raj Sivaraman). And more to come possibly! Thanks for asking.

Jamie: Absolutely. I’ve been a guitar player since I was a kid, so there’s a natural interest there for me. Now… you got your master’s degree in linguistics at Boston University right around the same time you transitioned into comedy. Throughout his career, George Carlin really picked apart and found the humor in language. You have a similar astute knack for finding the humor within language and terminology. How much would you say studying linguistics played a part in developing your cerebral style?

Myq: When I found out linguistics existed, I was thrilled, because it illuminated a subject that I didn’t even know WAS a subject. I’ve always enjoyed words… a weird set of words to say, maybe… and so I think that that’s what drew me to both linguistics and some of the comedy that I enjoy. Maybe learning about linguistics influenced some specific things in my comedy along the way, and vice versa, but mainly I think there was something in me that manifested as both an interest in linguistics and comedy, as opposed to those things necessarily influencing one another. Does that make sense? If not, that’s okay.

Jamie: Speaking of your cerebral style, I want to touch a little more on your approach. As a comedy writer for various comedians, I write a lot of jokes and bits that aren’t really what I consider my style. When I keep jokes for myself, I tend to go with the ones I consider to be more clever, or satirical rants, versus the raw or straightforward type jokes. The odd thing I’ve noticed about that though is that the masses, or even just certain crowds for that matter, tend to prefer the raw straightforward jokes in many cases. I’m channeling my inner Lenny Bruce-Bill Hicks, or Steven Wright-Mitch Hedberg, and sometimes all they want is Dice Clay-Dane Cook. When you’re writing your material, how much do you balance between what you know is funny or clever or more your style, and what you think the crowd or the masses will find funnier, and have you ever found yourself in front of a crowd that you knew your clever stuff was a little over their head, so you made a conscious effort to dumb it down a little, so to speak?

Myq: No. Or maybe earlier on, but early on, most aspiring comedians are just trying to figure out what works. What about oneself is funny? Now, I never think about what people are going to like during the writing process. Of course I think about it later, in the performance, or more when I’m listening back to performances to see how new ideas went over. But while coming up with ideas, I let myself think and write and say whatever I want, regardless of how I think people are going to respond. I mean, I’m not thinking about how they’re going to respond. I’m thinking about the fact that I like what I’m saying. I like what I’m constructing, and my goal is to get what I think is worthwhile, my best work, out there to people who will enjoy it. No comedian is exactly right for every audience. Everyone has different tastes. So if as a comedian you try to do what you think “people” will like, what people are you talking about? One of the worst things has got to be failing with material that you don’t even care about or believe in. Second-worst I think is SUCCEEDING with material you don’t care about or believe in. Second-best and best are failing/succeeding with material you do care about and believe in. In either order. The results don’t really matter. The process is what’s important. This is not to say that I live my life in a creative vacuum, and what I say is funny goes for everyone. If I were performing for only my grandmother’s friends, I might not do my Holocaust bits, even though they’re anti-Holocaust, and if a crowd doesn’t like a certain kind of joke, or topic, sure, I might do some math in my head and think about what jokes of mine they MIGHT like, and trend towards those… but I wouldn’t think of that as dumbing it down. I’m never going to not be myself. I’m going to be myself, if the self exists, which it might not, and hope that people who like the self that I am or am not will come to my shows and enjoy them, and the people who wouldn’t, won’t. I mean, for their own benefit. I want everyone to be as happy and fulfilled as possible.

Jamie: Well said. Sometimes I’ll trend away from the rants if I feel like a crowd isn’t really into listening to me rip certain things apart, but I never stray from the style of jokes I choose to keep for myself, unless its online. My online material is basically just a bunch of leftover shit I haven’t sold or plan to use on stage myself, so it’s all over the comedic spectrum. I’m just like fuck it, it’s the internet… someone will find it funny. Let’s talk about when it all started to click for you though. Almost every comedian goes through an inner struggle early on where they’re not 100% sure if they’re going to be able to make a long-term full-time profession out of comedy. At what point in your career did it just click that this was it for you? What was your defining moment where any and all doubts disappeared and you just knew you’d be making a full time career out of it?

Myq: I wouldn’t say there’s ever a time that there are no doubts about the future. Right now, who knows what will happen in the world tomorrow or next year or a decade from now? I knew from the beginning that I WANTED to be a full-time comedian, and I knew the way to do that was to just do it as much as possible. I was working a few different jobs at the time, living as an RA at Boston University, working at the bookstore cafe there, among other things… I was fine with the idea of being a barista as long as need be until I didn’t need to anymore, and I was fully aware that that day might never come. About six years in, I had the good fortune of booking a large enough number of college gigs that I didn’t need to have any other day jobs for a bit, and I was optimistic that if that could be sustained, then I could be sustained. But I didn’t “know.” Sometimes they say “leap, and the net will appear.” So I leapt, and the net did appear… or more like steps in the air that you build and construct yourself while you’re leaping, and also other people help you out, and sometimes you stumble mid-air but ultimately you head in the direction you want, or you start wanting the direction you’re heading. The point is, if you don’t leap at any point, you won’t get anywhere. So, leap everyone! If you want. You don’t have to. You can just walk wherever you want to go also. Did I answer this question fully? To summarize: no one ever knows the future, but I knew I could be a fulltime comedian for at least one year when I was one, and then the next year I knew I could be one for two years. And so forth. And so on. Until now. And hopefully later too.

Jamie: You never run out of material, so I think you’ll be doing this as long as it still interestes you. How about venues? Out of all the venues you’ve performed at, what’s your personal favorite?

Myq: There are too many favorites to name just one, and I’m sure I’ll leave some out, but here’s a few… The Comedy Studio where I started in Cambridge, MA, will always be in my heart. Acme in Minneapolis is a club that I’ve loved every time I’ve performed there in the past several years. I recorded my album “Meat Robot” there and the audiences are always just super. And the other comics. And the staff. And the way everyone treats everyone. I also love the various Helium locations. Portland is one of my favorite cities, and performing at the Helium there has always been a treat. There are many more… the Comedy Cellar, UCB, Meltdown in LA, tiny places that have a show once a week like “Gandhi Is That You” at Lucky Jack’s in NYC… I like anywhere that the audience is happy to be. With low ceilings. And vegan food. And I get paid a million dollars. And I’m in love.

Jamie: What would you say is the strangest or oddest thing that’s ever happened during one of your live shows?

Myq: I don’t know. Probably a lot of things happen that people would think is weird that I don’t really even notice anymore. One time I was performing in the round on a rotating stage outdoors in the daylight under a tent opening for KC and the Sunshine band for an audience that wanted to see not me, but KC and the Sunshine band, and a little girl gave me a thumbs down. How does that strike you?

Jamie: (Laughs) That’s the way uh-huh uh-huh, she didn’t like it, uh-huh uh-huh? If you got a thumbs down, I can only imagine her reaction to Tony Soprano singing disco in a Hawaiian shirt. How about material selection? To me, there’s a big difference between a comedian and a comedy writer. Most comedians can get by on limited material, whereas comedy writers have to face the constant struggle of coming up with endless new and fresh material. I’m more of comedy writer because I write so much material for others and do standups of my own so infrequently, so it’s actually very easy for me to determine what material I’m going to use if and when I do a standup of my own. You, on the other hand, are a hybrid of a comedian and a comedy writer. You come up with endless amounts of material for yourself, something that is a very rare quality amongst comics. Between your standup material, your Twitter account, your blog, podcasts, your YouTube clips, etc, etc… you’re just an endless source of comedy material, and you do countless standups and appearances. With so much material constantly swirling around in your head, how do you narrow it down and determine what you’re going to use for your standups and appearances? Do you go into your sets with a game plan, or do you just kind of pull from the plethora of material that’s always in your head on the fly?

Myq: Thank you for the very kind words. I feel bad having to start this response by saying I disagree with your characterization of comedians, in that they can get by on limited material. I think that most comedians that I know are constantly creating new material, because for so many of us, that’s the most enjoyable part of the job–coming up with something new that works. Or coming up with something new and MAKING it work. The alchemy from which an idea in a notebook turns into a crowd’s laughter over the course of days, weeks, months, or even years… that’s a huge part of what being a comedian is all about. So, I’m not sure which comedians you’re referring to, and names needn’t be named, but the best comedians are always creating, I would say. Of course, comedians are humans, and there is a diversity amongst us. Some might not write as much new stuff. People work at different rates. But saying comedians can get by on limited material is like saying “musicians can get by without writing new songs.” Some musicians might just play their hits for years. But some bands or solo artists put out new albums every year. Or every couple. Or what have you.

Jamie: I should probably clarify that before you get me in trouble here. I don’t mean to imply that comedians aren’t creative. I’m just saying a comedian can write some material and then use it for weeks, or even months because they’re frequently seeing new crowds who haven’t heard it yet, whereas comedy writers don’t have the luxury of getting extended use out of their material. Guys who write for websites, or television, or other comics, etc… it’s basically a one and done thing for their material. Hell, you can’t even repeat a tweet 2 or 3 years later without someone pointing out that you already tweeted that joke. Hear that comedians? I’m totally not knocking your creativity. You know I’m going to forward all the hate emails I get to you now, right? (Laughs) Where the hell were we? Oh, right… how you determine what material to use.

Myq: Well, it depends on the context. If it’s a show where I’m aiming to workshop some new ideas, like a weeknight at a club or bar around NYC, I’ll probably have a set list with some new ideas or bullet points jotted down, and I’ll go up and get into those. Or I might riff some on whatever has been going on in the room or my mind or earlier in the show. In that type of situation, it can be really loose. If I’m headlining a comedy club on the road for a weekend, I’m much more likely to have at least the framework of the hour I’m going to do ready. I might not do everything the same every night. I might still riff and get some new ideas in there. But the general shape of things might be at least similar from night to night. I heard a quote once, sorry I don’t know the source… something like “repetition makes us feel secure; variety makes us feel free.” And as humans, we want both of those things, so I aim to strike an equilibrium between them. Doing polished, honed material provides security… sometimes job security, sometimes the security of knowing that these jokes work, and trying new things is freedom. And it’s also the thing that leads to new polished, honed material, so it’s all necessary. All part of the same machine. The life machine. I’m a robot. Beep boop.

Jamie: See now, that’s the part I’m envious of. Sometimes I’ll come up with something I really like, and I want to use it again for the people who haven’t heard it, but can’t. I don’t do standup enough to quench the thirst of reliving polished jokes… so it ends up carrying over into my personal life because I shoehorn it into every day conversations when I know I’m talking to someone who hasn’t heard it yet. Speaking of writing though, there are a lot of comedians with good writing skills that find themselves getting offers to be regular writers for sitcoms, or asked to do acting roles. Could you see yourself writing for sitcoms regularly or possibly taking on an acting career at some point? Or possibly even a screenplay of your own? Have you considered going down those roads?

Myq: Sure! Who’s asking?

Jamie: Someone who doesn’t have a sitcom.

Myq: Sincerely, my main goal is to keep doing standup. And it’s a goal I achieve every day. Tip: set goals for yourself that you’re already achieving. You’ll feel real good about yourself. I have been on a few TV shows and written a few things. I like doing those things and would be happy to do them more. But I KNOW I’ll keep doing standup. As long as I want to and can.

Jamie: I’ve actually been working on a rough outline for a comedic screenplay, and once I have enough time to get it to a point where I’d actually show it to someone else… you might be one of the first people I contact about contributing… but that’s a conversation for when I’m not interviewing you for a charity website. Speaking of television though, you have a long list of television appearances on your resume, including Conan, Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Seth Myers, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, etc. Which one was the most enjoyable and/or most rewarding, and why?

Myq: They’re all the most rewarding. Or maybe the most recent one is the most rewarding. No, all of them. I mean, the Tonight Show with Conan was the first late night set I did, so that was a real thrill. And the next time I did Conan was a real thrill because that meant they liked me and I could keep doing it. Same with the times I’ve done Ferguson. It’s just always appreciated to have external markers of your progress. And when I got to do Letterman the first time, that was really something because I had been submitting to that show for years and years. And Seth Meyers was exciting because it was new, and I really like Seth. (I really like Conan and Letterman too). And the Comedy Central half hour was an amazing opportunity. And the hour I just put out this year on Netflix, my first hour special, that’s something that I’d wanted to do and was happy to get the opportunity. So, all of them. Everything I do is ideally enjoyable and/or rewarding. Otherwise why am I doing it?

Jamie:  Let’s talk about the releases. 2010 was a pretty big year for you. You did Last Comic Standing, had your own Comedy Central Special, and also released your first album Vegan Mind Meld. Tell us a little about your debut album, and what it was like to be you in 2010.

Myq: That was a big year. I had recorded the album in 2009, and then all the other things started happening, I think. That’s the way it is, in general. It’s all gradual for years and there are no tangible concrete results that you can discern, and then seven or eight years have gone by and the tree starts bearing fruit. You planted a tree at the beginning of the metaphor, I guess? I started really pursuing standup in 2002, so by seven years in, I was headlining colleges and some clubs, and had written a lot of stuff that I was happy with, so the opportunity to do an album then was greatly appreciated. Jason Riggs of BSeenMedia approached me and asked if I wanted to, and I did, so we did. And in the meantime, I had just done “Live at Gotham” on Comedy Central in 2008, so the next step, ideally, was to hopefully get a half hour special, and I believe I actually used a video recording of my album taping to submit for that, and good news, it worked! Spoiler alert: this all happened in the past. So the special also taped in 2009 and then aired in 2010, right around when the album was coming out and when Last Comic Standing was starting. So it was like a perfect storm of good weather. I feel very fortunate to have had all those things happen, but I’ll also say that 2008 is when I moved to NYC and started having no day job, so that was really the time that I first felt like a fulltime no-other-job comedian, which had been the goal. So all this stuff just became icing on the cake. You know, the best part of the cake?

Jamie: You followed up that debut album with Please Be Seated in 2012. Everything was really clicking for you by then. Amongst other things, you were in the midst of being a regular returning guest on Craig Ferguson and Conan. Tell us a little about that album and what it was like to be in such high demand.

Myq: It’s the musical collaboration I did with my good buddy Micah Sherman. As far as being in demand, did you know you can just keep putting albums out whenever you want? It’s true! But also yes, I was fortunate to receive multiple bookings on different late night shows, and that was a real appreciated thrill every time. I mean, I’m just writing and doing standup as much as I can and want, and since there are so many late night shows out there, it’s great that there are so many opportunities to keep getting to put it out there.

Jamie: And of course your one hour special Small, Dork, and Handsome appeared on Netflix in May of this year, tell us a little about that as well.

Myq: Sure! Also, one year before that came out I put out one other standup album, “Meat Robot,” which I recorded in late 2012 at Acme in MN. I hadn’t recorded an album since 2009, so I had maybe 3.5 years’ worth of material to choose from, plus other older jokes that I still liked that hadn’t made the first album, so a lot of that is what ultimately became that album plus some of the special which I recorded the following year. I thought about only putting out one album and special, and having it be the most honed, creme de la creme of all the material I had to choose from, but my friend Micah pointed out that there might be people who thought some of the stuff I was leaving out would be creme as well. He told me about a Michel Gondry quote, the point of which was something like “quality fades; quantity doesn’t,” which sort of aligns with another things I really like that I don’t know who said first, that goes “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Which is all to say if you spend too much time making everything perfect before releasing it, you might not release anything, and things of value will go unseen. So I put out the best album I could in 2013, and then wrote a lot more and had a whole new special in 2014, which is the “Small, Dork, and Handsome” you mentioned. I really liked doing it, and now I’m really looking forward to recording the next hour, and the next one, and the next one. Is that what you wanted to know?

Jamie: And lastly, let’s touch on some of your extracurricular stuff. Tell us about your podcasts, your blog, or any other side projects you’re currently working on, as well as what we can expect from Myq Kaplan in the future.

Myq: Thanks! Pretty much everything I do is available through MyqKaplan.com… my albums, my late night sets, my appearances on other podcasts, a link to my own podcast. It’s called “Hang Out With Me” and it’s generally me having a conversation with two other people, give or take a person or two, about life, comedy, philosophy, art, silliness, whatever. My goal is always to have it be fun, meaningful, both, or neither, and I believe that is achieved regularly. I’ve had folks like Maria Bamford, AJ Jacobs, Adam Busch, Laraine Newman, Paul F Tompkins, Christopher Ryan, and so many more… people I love and respect having real fun great conversations. Other than that, it’s mostly standup… and Twitter and Facebook …and whatever robots exist in the future. Thanks for checking out whatever you do. Enjoy life! Or enjoy not enjoying! Or don’t! Whatever you want or don’t.

Jamie: Well we definitely enjoy you, you’re one of our absolute favorites here. Once again Myq, I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with Comedians for Cancer and giving us a chance to pick your brain a little. I’m sure we’ll see you again down the road, possibly at one of our benefits, it’d be fun to have you perform with us. We wish you continued success and health.

Myq: Thank you! Same here!

Jamie: There you have it folks, the brilliant Myq Kaplan. Be sure to check out his website, releases, and blog, follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and click on the 8 gazillion links in this article if you want to laugh because he’s relentlessly funny.

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Interview with Michael Malone

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Jamie: Ok, I’m here with one of the most ridiculously funny comedians you’re ever going to see, Mr. Michael Malone. Thanks for taking the time out to do a quick interview Michael, I appreciate that.

Michael: Thank you for having me. That’s a pretty ridiculously awesome introduction. Thank you. I’m excited to be here!

Jamie: I start everyone off with a question about the cause… so let’s get right to that. What is it about cancer awareness that made you want to get involved? Was it just a general compassion, or have you had the misfortune of knowing someone who has gone through it?

Michael: Actually, it’s a mix between both. I’m on the road 48 weeks a year and blessed to meet many of my fans in countless shows across the country. One of the best parts of my job is being able to connect with the audience and make friendships at each stop. That said, it’s alarming how many folks I meet on a monthly basis that are walking through this disease with their family or personal life. After each show, I tend to get some version of a fan sharing, “I so needed a laugh tonight, this is what I’ve been going through,” and hearing so many of those stories and experiences, I’ve felt the urge to become active and contribute however I can.

Jamie: Well I’m certainly glad to have you involved. Ok, so let’s go back to the beginning. What got you into doing comedy? At what point did you decide it was something you were cut out for, and what was it like for you at first? Did it come naturally, or was it something you had to get a little used to before you became comfortable with it?

Michael: I didn’t fit in at school… at all. I was really overweight and didn’t have a male authority figure in my life, so it was hard for me to bond with the other guys about sports and eating steaks, because, well, I didn’t and don’t care about it either… but I could be funny. I figured that if I couldn’t fit in, I might as well stick out. I had absolutely no plan for my life, and at the time, I didn’t know that being a comedian was even the least bit realistic. My buddy called me up one day and said he was going to the Funnybone Comedy Club that Monday, and my first response was, “Why?” I was so clueless. He said he had stage time, and I all-out begged him to get me on too. Then, boom! A few phone calls later we had a 5 min spot on a Monday night, and my life got placed on a path that would never reverse. We felt like we made it that night. We were 18 and 19 at the time and getting sneaked into a comedy club to do what we loved. I say that I caught “the bug” that night: the energy, the laughter—it completely overwhelmed me. I had never felt that “high” before. And now, ten years later, I can’t go a few days without it.

Jamie: Let’s talk a little about your style, because I think you’re one of the absolute best at being able to improv off the cuff. Some comedians are programmed into their acts and get a little thrown off if a crowd is too vocal… and then some set the crowd up for expected or triggered responses that they already have scripted bits designed to play off of that with… but you incorporate a LOT of unscripted spur of the moment improv, and you play off the randomness of the crowd as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. Tell us a little about that. Does it just come naturally, or was it a skill you had to work on and develop over time, and how much do you anticipate that being a part of each show ahead of time?

Michael: First off, thank you! Secondly, it is true improv. I have nothing in mind before I step on stage, as far as the audience goes. As you mentioned, some guys plan on setting the audience up at certain points, or they scan the crowd before hand looking for ugly shirts and hairpieces, but I don’t. I also do not attack people; I wait for them to engage me. The way I see it, anyone can get on stage and make fun of things, but I try hard to listen to the audience and build off what they give me. In some respects, you could say that I let them dig their own grave. I did study improv for a few years, touring clubs, bars and corporate events. It was an amazing point in my career—sort of my “college experience,” if you will. I was on the road with friends; money was good, and the excitement of building a two-hour show from absolutely nothing was unbeatable. It really was like bringing a knife to a gunfight. I slowly found myself mixing those worlds together—stand up and improv. I would find myself doing 5-10 minutes off somebody’s pet’s name at one show, but then again there’s many nights that I don’t do any crowd work at all. When we filmed my new special “Casual Sext” I came out and did 50 mins of straight material, and as the encore I came back out and did 15 mins of crowd work. And God, did it feel good. I’m not one to stick to a script or plan, so coming out with the complete freedom that night was so much fun. I actually ended up using most of it in the special—that you can download for $5 on malonecomedy.com—shameless promotion, you know it is. But back to the story, in improv, I was taught that you should be “bigger than life” on stage. The analogy I always think of is King Kong. You take a suggestion and multiply it by 10. When I applied that concept to my stand-up sets, I really noticed a transition and style begin to develop. That’s when my career really started opening up.

Jamie: Getting the crowds as involved as you do, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of crazy moments. What’s the craziest, or one of the craziest things that’s ever happened out on tour?

Michael: Ok, well, this may not be the craziest, but it sure as hell was the most fun… I was playing the Funnybone in Richmond VA around Christmas, and they had a tree on stage. Under the tree, Santa had left a Nerf ball gun. All week I kept staring at this thing while I was on stage and thinking, “I really want to shoot someone with this thing.” Long story, short: Saturday night comes along, and a crowd member engages me. We go back and forth a minute, when I decide to grab the Nerf gun and threaten him with it. Turns out that this dude is an ex-marine, now local sheriff, and he is HUGE. He stood up to challenge me to shoot him, and the crowd went crazy. First shot missed. Second shot missed. Third shot, though, I put the gun down by my crotch and acted like it was my dick then fired and the thing flies back 9 rows smack towards his forehead, when he reaches up and grabs it out of mid-air like Mister Miyagi from the Karate Kid! It was hilarious and fun, and really, those are the moments I have the best time, when everyone gets an experience not just a show. I make an effort to create that atmosphere wherever the tour takes me.

Jamie: Speaking of touring, you run a pretty crazy schedule. What did you say… 48 out of 52 weeks this year you’re touring? That’s insane. What’s it like being on the road nonstop like that? Are you constantly looking for new material, and are you still able to maintain a personal life and see friends, family, and your significant other?

Michael: Ha ha, it is crazy some days… hell, most weeks, but it’s been a goal of mine since early in my career. I worked with John Morgan, and he was talking about his schedule of 46 weeks, and I immediately took that on as what I wanted to be my standard schedule. I’ve been incredibly blessed by my fans’ support and great rooms to accomplish and maintain that goal for the last three years. As for writing, I do a lot of it on stage. I consider myself to be constantly developing, but of course, it’s a process taking new material from “new” to “polished.” I have jokes in all stages at any given time. I’ve never been a big fan of sitting down to write; I’m far too ADD inclined. But I love being in the moment. If I have an idea, or a loose structure in mind, I take it to stage and sink or swim, I find out pretty quickly if it has legs and riff to find the direction I want to develop it with. If I see it has potential, I take it home and tag it up. As far as friends and family go, naturally, it’s tough to stay connected. I can’t count on 100 sets of fingers and toes how many parties, weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries I’ve missed over the years. When you’re first starting out you don’t know when the next check is coming in, so you drop what you’re doing and take whatever opportunity is in front of you. But I am blessed by an amazing support system. My family is behind me 200 percent and in the audience at every opportunity they have, and my girlfriend is so supportive that she literally kicks me out of the house to do time on the few nights I am home because she wants me taking advantage of every opportunity… or she just likes having the place to herself. But technology makes life on the road much easier nowadays.

Jamie: Let’s talk influences. Who were the guys you enjoyed the most, and how much of an impact or influence did they have over your style or career?

Michael: I’ve found that by surrounding yourself with awesome people, it drives you to work harder and push more too. I have the pleasure of being friends with a great group of comics whom I not only appreciate as friends, but also respect and very much look up to. Guys like Marc Ryan, Tom Simmons, Collin Moulton, and Vince Morris. Each of them are always working on new material and finding new ways to be heard. When you place yourself in a wolf pack like that, you either find a way to keep up or get left behind. They’ve all had influences on me in different ways, and I value each of them. Now, that’s speaking about what influences me now, but growing up I would sneak out to the garage and play my mom’s Richard Pryor and Steve Martin albums. I drew a lot of influence and inspiration from black comedians too. Richard Pryor, Martin Lawrence, Sinbad, and Eddie Murphy were all staples during my youth, and I think that’s where a lot of my energy and characters come from. When I got older I started to really get into Bill Hick’s albums. He is hands-down my favorite of all time.

Jamie: Yeah, it was Pryor and Carlin for me early on, and then I really enjoyed the dry wit of guys like Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg… but I watched or listened to just about anyone I could. Now before we get into your new stuff and what you currently have going on, let’s touch on your first release “Let’s Get Physical.” Tell our readers a little bit about that. What was it like to release your first comedy album, and how did it change the playing field for your career?

Michael: “Let’s Get Physical” was a really fun project and exciting time in my career. I was in New York the night of the iTunes release due to fly back to LA at 4 a.m. So, naturally, as the CD dropped at 11 p.m., I was up the entire time Facebooking, Twittering, emailing, and smoke signaling everyone I knew to promote the thing. The work paid off, though. It debuted at 27 on the iTunes chart and by 4 a.m. it had moved to spot 18. By my connecting flight, I was at spot 11, and when I landed in LA, I had voice mails and text messages from my family, friends, and management that it’d went all the way to number five. It topped out as the number three selling comedy album in the U.S. and number eight in the world. It was a really flattering and encouraging to me. In the comedy world, it seems that what a lot of people want to know is “Where’s your TV credits” and “What have you done lately?” I may not have my late night spot or Comedy Central Presents—yet—but my fans are friggin’ dynamite, and that top ten selling album is a great tangible accomplishment to show for the 10 years I’ve put in so far. It’s times like that when you’re reaffirmed and it makes all the awful hotels and weekends away from family worth it. I’m so grateful for the team behind me and my fans who gave me that day.

Jamie: How about the Podcast? Give our readers a quick synopsis and tell us what they can expect to hear when they tune in?

Michael: Ah yes, the podcast: “The Michael Malone Show.” Creative name, I know. I am a horribly shy person off stage, and I was scared to death of this thing originally… but I’m a music nerd and comedy fan, and I spend my time traveling and being exposed to amazing talents, so I started the podcast as a way to capture that. I interview artists, feature acoustic sets or live comedy sets intermittently throughout the interview, as well as comedy sketches that I write. It’s a mixture of chaos and hilarity, and it’s also been a great way to get me out of my shell. I mentioned earlier that I want people to walk away from my comedy show feeling like they had an experience and not just a show. The same applies to the podcast. I want the listeners to really have an experience with the artist I’m highlighting and be exposed to someone they may not have otherwise heard. And did I mention… it’s FREE?!

Jamie: I’ve tuned in quite a bit, it’s a great podcast. You mentioned technology, and one of the bad sides of technology is that just about any schmuck can throw together a podcast. There’s a lot of amateur garbage out there, which kind of puts a black mark on them a little. You can almost hear the silent “big deal” when people say “oh, you have a podcast?” But a handful of people actually know what they’re doing with them, and that’s certainly the case with yours. Definitely good stuff.  Ok, before I let you go, let’s plug that new comedy special some more. Casual Sext comes out October 18th. I’ve seen a few snippets and clips already and it looks to be another stellar and hilarious success. I’m looking forward to it. Tell us a little bit about that. You’ve gone the Louis CK/Jim Gaffigan route of cutting corporate America out of the fold and you took care of all production costs on your own to be able to offer it as a ridiculously low 5 dollar download… so tell us a little about that and a little about the album.

Michael: Yes! The special! I am SO excited to get this in everyone’s hands. And you’re right, I’m doing it the independent route for a $5 download on my personal website www.malonecomedy.com. I was really inspired by Louis CK’s release, because of the message behind it. He did it as a “Thank you” to his fans for all the support over the years. And, I want to do the same thing for my fan base. The last ten years have been amazing, and especially the last three, and I owe that to my fans and supporters. This is my way of giving back to them and making it as easy as possible to share with friends! The special is really fun. I deal with all the issues the important today, you know? How to handle sexting, pets, and ping pong balls with your partner. It was shot in the beautiful Strand Theatre in Indiana in front of a sold-out crowd of my biggest fans. The energy of the evening is apparent in the special, and I can’t wait to share it. Also, it’s chock full of new material and it’s less than most value meals at any fast food joint! Seriously, $5 bucks for an hour special is a great price.

Jamie: That it is, and I’m definitely looking forward to downloading it myself. I was a fan long before the friendship, so I always keep a close eye and ear on your stuff. Once again, thanks for taking the time to do the interview, and for all your support of Comedians For Cancer. I’m looking forward to having you perform with us in the future. Thanks man.

Michael: Thank you! I am really excited to join you guys, and I appreciate the opportunity to help out.

Jamie: There you have it folks… the very very funny Michael Malone. Click on his links here to check out his website and podcast, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Also get yourself Let’s Get Physical, and download Casual Sext on October 18th… trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

 

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Interview with Oneshot BK Reppa

 

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Interview:

Jamie: Ok, I’m here with my man Oneshot BK Reppa, a fantastic hip-hop/rap artist who is just blowing people away with his music. If you already know him, you know exactly what I’m talking about… and if you don’t know him yet, you’re about to learn why you should. Thanks for being here and helping me kick off a great cause in style, Oneshot… I really appreciate that.

Oneshot: No Problem, I’m glad to be a part of something so positive. Thanks for having me.

Jamie: Absolutely. Let’s start out with the cause itself. What is it about cancer awareness that made you want to get involved? Was it just a general compassion, or have you had the misfortune of knowing someone who has gone through it?

Oneshot: Actually, my father is a cancer survivor. Cancer affects so many people and I have faith that there will be an eventual cure.

Jamie: Well we’re certainly doing our part to try to help the cause. Ok, so let’s go back to the beginning. Tell us about appearing on Kids Say The Darndest Things with Bill Cosby when you were 7. What was that like? Were you aware of the significance of being on television alongside one of the most well-known comedians in show business and nervous about it at all, or were you just a typical kid just rolling with whatever was thrown at you?

Oneshot: Well, Kids Say The Darndest things was the start of it all. My parents felt I had a nice look and wanted to get me into modeling and acting from a young age. My parents took me to an audition in my hometown in New York City to try out for the show. I was put in a room with thousands of other children my age and I was asked a bunch of questions. Months later, to my parents surprise, I was called back for the 2nd audition… which eventually led to me being on the show. It was amazing to meet Bill Cosby. He was very nice to me. At that age, I wasn’t really aware of the significance behind what was going on. It just seemed like something fun for me to do. Overall it was an amazing experience for me at such a young age.

Jamie: So how did you get yourself into making music then? At what point did you say to yourself, you know what… I’m pretty good at this shit, I think I can make it happen.

Oneshot: I started making music in High School for fun, but mainly to express all the pain I was going through. Life wasn’t easy for me, I went through a lot of pain. People treated me like crap, but I used their hate as motivation to make great music. At first, I was just making music… but when I began to put my heart, soul, and pain into the music, it took my career to the next level. As time went on I used social media sites like Myspace, Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter to take my career to another level. That’s when I began to realize I was really going somewhere with it.

Jamie: Yeah, follow up on that a little, because you became a monster on social media sites. First it was your Myspace getting over 20 million hits, and then you’ve had a lot of success with YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter too and seen videos like “Beat It Up” get over a million views. That’s a ridiculous amount of internet success right out of the gate. What was it like to see your stuff take off like it did?

Oneshot: It was truly amazing because I was the underdog in life and in the music industry. People always look down on the underdog, but my faith in God keeps me going in a positive direction, I used that positive energy to market myself on the internet. I put so much time and energy into marketing on those social sites, so I learned how to really work them to my advantage. I continue to use them regularly to market myself.

Jamie: Well it’s obviously working. Do you find it hard to keep up? I mean… you’re a pretty interactive guy with your fans and followers, and you’re sitting on almost a half million followers just on Twitter alone. Is it hard to keep up with it all and stay interactive as much as you do?

Oneshot: Not at all. We live in the mobile age, so I’m always tuned in to what’s going on. Even when I’m on my way to an event I’ll talk to my Twitter fans through my phone. I’m connected to the internet everywhere I go, so it makes staying connected with my fans easy on me. I use Twitter to update fans, so I’m always checking it. I try to stay very active on the social media sites.

Jamie: It’s good to see you staying in touch with the people who support your work. Not a lot of artists take the time to do that. Now obviously the music speaks for itself, but the internet is a very visual world and presentation is a big key as well. Tell us a little about your video producing and directing skills. What got you into that, and how did you become so good at it that millions of people keeping clicking on your work?

Oneshot: Well it all goes back to me being the underdog. When I started I didn’t have anyone to do my videos. Everyone was doing their own thing. I believed in myself, so I began to do my own videos. It took a lot of hard work to get really good at it, but now I’m doing amazing with it. Videos are the fun part for me. I love bringing my music to life in the form of a video. It’s like an art to me. Since I’m an independent artist, I’m in full control of my videos… and by directing them myself, I can do whatever I feel is best for them. I direct all my own videos now, and direct videos for others as well.

Jamie: You keep it pretty clean, which is hard to do in the rap game, so it’s one of the things I really admire about you. Tell us a little about that. Do you find it challenging at times to keep yourself out of the kind of bullshit that so many other artists in your position fall into so easily?

Oneshot: Thanks. Well, at first I did. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to fit in. Now I couldn’t care less. Because the music I make is clean, I get a lot of sponsors and people wanting to work with me. Since I’m a Christian, I promote positive music and I have a lot more positive music coming. Some of the music I created in the past was a reflection of me trying to fit in. The music I’m creating now for this new album “Choosen” is a reflection of me not trying to fit in. The Choosen album is spelled with two O’s by design for artistic purposes. The album tells my life story. This album is very different from the music I put out in the past. It’s a reflection of my growth in life and walk with God. The music I created in the past represented me as a boy. My new music represents me as a grown man. So to fully answer that question, yeah… in the past it was hard not to fall into the trap of not being myself. Now it’s simple because I’m keeping God first in my life.

Jamie: That’s refreshing to hear man. So when you were getting started… who were your main influences? Who were the people that inspired you the most, or who did you emulate yourself after?

Oneshot: When I was getting started 50 Cent was very influential to me. His business sense was out of this world. I always knew I wanted to be a big business man. I always wanted my own label, company, and multiple businesses. Following his blueprint when I first got started really helped me out a lot. As far as emulating, I’ve always tried to be unique and create my own style. I try to be different and do things other artists aren’t doing.

Jamie: That’s the way to be… pave your own way. Ok, two-part question coming at you now. Who is the one person you’ve worked with or performed with that was the most fulfilling to you so far, and if you had your choice of anyone, who is the one person you’d like to work with or perform with in the future?

Oneshot: Wow… great question. I did a collab with LiL Chuckee signed to Lil Wayne’s record label Young Money. The song also features P. Diddy’s solo artist Donnie Klang, who was selected on MTV’s hit show Making the Band. Working with LiL Chuckee & Donnie Klang was the most fulfilling for me because me and LiL Chuckee became really close friends, and we are like brothers now. I don’t really think about working with anyone else. I stay focused on what I have to do, and right now that’s just doing my own thing and taking my brand to new levels.

Jamie: Ok, well… we’ll wrap this up with some plugs. A lot of people reading this will want to know what to look for from you. You’ve got a new CD coming out on October 5th, so tell us a little about that and anything else you’ve got coming up that people should keep an eye out for.

Oneshot: Yes! I’m excited about my album dropping October 5th called “Choosen.” In the past I made really fun music, but my life has not been a fun place. This album talks about my life for the first time, and shows everything I had to go through. The album still has the same commercial feel of all my other music, while delivering a more positive inspirational message. The Album has 15 songs, so I’m really giving my fans a lot of quality music while telling a great story. On top of that, I’m putting this album out for free for all my fans. I made a lot of money off many of my singles in the past, so I wanted to put out some free music for all of my fans. The album will be available on Datpiff, HotNewHipHop and many other websites on October 5th. Also be on the lookout for all of the videos. Since I do all of my own videos, I thought it would be dope to shoot a music video for every song on the album. That’s scary because there are 15 songs on the album, so it just goes to show how much of a workaholic I am.

Jamie: That’s how you do it man… just keep working. Well once again, thanks for being here and helping me kick off the Comedians For Cancer website with some hip-hop style. I’d wish you the best of luck, but with your talent and character, you’re not going to have to rely on luck very much. Pleasure speaking with you, as always.

Oneshot: Thanks for having me Jamie. I look forward to watching Comedians For Cancer grow and performing at some of your future shows. It’s a great cause and it’s going to be a huge success. SWAG

Jamie: There you have it folks. The new album “Choosen” is out October 5th, so make sure you check that and the upcoming videos out. And click his links here to follow Oneshot on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, as well as on his personal website. Don’t miss out on the rising talent.

 

 

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