"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


The Four Questions: Myq Kaplan

When I first saw the name "Myq Kaplan," I figured that "Myq" was Vietnamese. It turns out that the name is pronounced "Mike" (which shouldn't seem all that foreign to me), not "meek," and Mr. Kaplan is Jewish. I really got that one wrong!

Kaplan has appeared on Comedy Central and The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien. He won the 2009 NY's Funniest Standup Competition. His outrageously funny live album, Vegan Mind Meld, will be released next month, and it's a must for vegans, Jews, and even Gentile mind-melders who eat meat.

Here he is in his own words.

1. You describe yourself as a "Jewy-ish vegan atheist." How do your "Jewy-ish" and vegan identities play a role in your comedy routines?
Most comedians talk about their experiences, so in that capacity, I write and tell jokes and stories about my experiences with being those things. I relate to the two in slightly different ways, because being vegan is something I've chosen whereas being Jewy-ish has basically been thrust upon me, partially by genetics, partially by sheer cultural force, I'd imagine. That is, I'm not so much into religion of any kind, but I grew up sort of Jewish (hence, Jewy-ish) and various related characteristics/mannerisms/mindsets seem to have stuck, no matter how not into religion I might be. Especially in comparison to those who aren't Jewy or Jewish at all. So it makes sense to talk about it, because it's often perceived in what I look like or how I talk or what I say anyhow. Being vegan is different because I don't think that would necessarily come through without explicitly discussing it (unless people can spot the difference between meat protein and vegetable protein in my muscles from off stage, which seems unlikely). But because my diet is something I've chosen for specific reasons, it's something that I definitely enjoy talking about. Not just to try and convince everyone that they're living wrong, but to spread awareness on a topic that I care about, that I don't think people are particularly as cognizant of these days as they could be. (Ever since the industrial revolution, we've gotten farther and farther removed from where our food comes from, and I'm not all "meat is murder," more like "torture is bad and worse than murder, murder is fine if it's done quickly to a thing that led a happy life," a little less catchy but more accurate for my purposes.) So, that's essentially how my vegan identity plays a role, but with punchlines. Comedy!

2. In recent months, I've learned that you, Carol Leifer, and Sarah Silverman are all vegetarian Jews. We've all heard the line about how Jews dominate show-biz, but is there a herbivorous heeb outbreak among comedians?
I'm told that Seinfeld is a vegetarian as well. And another good friend of mine, Zach Sherwin AKA MC Mr. Napkins, is also a hilarious comedian and vegan. We actually did an all-vegan comedy show with also friend/comedian/Jew Jamie Kilstein at the AltCom Festival last year. So, it appears that the answer is yes, if 6 people makes an outbreak. (Which doesn't seem far-fetched, because in the MOVIE "Outbreak," it only took one monkey.) It makes sense for Jews to be vegans, because if you're keeping kosher, what better way to avoid having dairy with meat than to avoid meat and dairy altogether? Sincerely, I've certainly come across way more meat-eaters than others in general, but maybe the scales are tipped more for comedians than for the general populace, because of the fact that the comedy business is most concentrated in NYC and LA, and my impression is that there's a higher proportion of vegetarian living going on in such places than in the mid-parts of the country, for example. So yes, if you want to make it in comedy, stop eating meat. (Worth a shot?) And not just comedy. As I understand it, three out of four Beatles were vegetarians, as well as a whole crapload of other celebrities these days. So, everyone on board? (Plus punchlines.)

3. I like the name "Myq" as an alternative to "Mike." Do you have any recommendations for nicknames that use the letters in "Michael"?
I'm not sure I understand this question completely. You don't generally make nicknames by just using various letters in a name. I know it might seem that way when people make "Meg" out of "Margaret," because those letters are all in there somewhere (and it's better than "Peg" for "Margaret," unless she's also a pirate), but it's fairly unconventional. If your name is Michael, it would be weird to go by "Ham." Or "Clam." Or "Heil." Those are all horrible examples of nicknames for a vegetarian or a Jew named Michael, especially. But they're all in there. So is "L'chaim," though. That's better. So, I don't know if I've answered this question the best I could, but I also don't know if you asked it the best you could. So I think we're even. And thank you.

4. When will Vegan Mind Meld be released, and when will your special appear on Comedy Central?
That's better! Good question, great phrasing, no confusion! Here we go, answer-time! The CD "Vegan Mind Meld," available for pre-order now at www.myqkaplan.com, will be released on April 27, and the special airs later that week, 11:30 p.m. on April 30. Thanks for watching and reading and finding me and my things with your computer, from here to my website to all your other Facebooks/Twitters/Myspaces/etc. Enjoy enjoyable things, thanks for interviewing me.


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