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Moshe Kasher performing his first show of the night at The Garrison in Toronto

So the question that I want to leave with before they kick me out is why? Why comedy?

I honestly don’t have a great answer for that. I never dreamed of being a comedian like some people who knew what they wanted, I didn’t. I studied playwrighting and acting in college. So when I saw my friend, Chelsea Peretti, who I went to junior high school with, I saw her do stand-up and I thought, “Oh, interesting. This is like a mixture of the two things that I’ve been doing. I can write and perform my own stuff.” But I didn’t even start by trying to be a comedian, I started like “I’m going to try comedy” and it just spiralled or whatever.

Where did you start?

I started in San Francisco and I was there for… a long time, until I moved to Los Angeles five years ago.

In comedy, there’s a lot of delusion involved–


Yeah, Mike Birbiglia talks about that. How you sort of have to deny yourself the first few months that “everything’s going great!”
That’s interesting because I sort of think its not delusion so much as it is lowered expectations with the swimming pool that you’re in. I mean, everybody around you is so collosally awful that if you’re kind of not awful then you think you’re really good. So, I don’t know. Maybe its delusion. I remember thinking “Oh, I’m good at this” when I started, but I wasn’t. So maybe. I guess.

I actually think that what (Mike Birbiglia’s) actually saying is spoken from a place of being a master of the craft looking back. Because obviously, the person that I was when I started was awful but I wasn’t awful for a person who just started.

Is this a job that you think you can get tired of? Obviously being on the road is tiring, but like, “Oh fuck, I have to go work…”

I’ve had that. Tonight I have three shows: 7, 9, 11, and I believe that when the 11 is about to start I’ll probably go “Oh fuck, I have to go work…” I mean it is great, I recognize how lucky I am or whatever, but sometimes there are certain shows that you just don’t want to do.

So what’s the hardest part of the job?

All the sex. It’s hard it’s like, “Oh, another person wants to fuck me” It’ll be like “No!” and then “Yes, I’m sure you’ll like this.”

Moshe Kasher reads us a story he wrote.

I think that the hardest part is being in a field where you are volunteering to be judged by everyone. Volunteering to be judged by the crowd. Volunteering to be judged by the industry. Doing auditions. Writing scripts. All these things become a constant evaluation of whether you’re good enough; cool enough; hot enough. I think that’s probably the hardest thing.

So, what do you think that is that drives a person on stage to do stand-up? Working with comedians, I’m always fascinated by the force that gravitates a person to a stage to, like you said, be judged.

It depends about who you’re talking about I think, I don’t know that the same thing drives everyone on stage. I think there’s a lot of terrible comedians and it’s a much more interesting question what drives people that are bad and never do well to continue going on night after night. What’s happening for that person? Because if a person is good you can see how it’s an outlet for them.

But what drives the comedian? I mean, you want to say that it’s because comedians have an inability to not deconstruct the world that they’re living in. You want to say that. They see stuff and they want to talk about their take on their world and the surrounding reality that they’re in but… I’m sure some people just want to get some pussy. Some people just want to learn how to public speak. I don’t know man, what do you think it is? What’s the common answer?

What I find most commonly is that, for whatever reason it is, somebody’s going up there looking for acceptance and approval. The audience is clapping and laughing and telling them “Yeah, you’re right!”

I don’t know if that’s true for me. If it is, then it’s subconscious. I don’t know, that seems weird. Or maybe? It’s very possible that I haven’t processed it enough to know that that’s true about me. But I don’t experience it like that, like “I’m excited to get me some acceptance!”

We actually had a small exchange in Montreal this year. I was at the comedy comference that Variety held for the top ten rising comedians, you being one of them. I asked a question, I asked “What you’re advice would be–


You remember?

Yeah, I do.

I asked because I honestly wanted to know: What your advice would be for someone trying to break into comedy? You yelled at me: don’t.

Right. I mean it! It’s a pretty cynical answer, but I mean it. Comedy’s a pretty brutal lifestyle and so anybody who can be deterred by someone saying “Don’t” should be dettered by it. Why volunteer for it unless its the only thing that you feel you’ll be good at? So, anybody who hears “Don’t” and says “Fuck that, I’m doing it anyway!” — that’s probably the first step in becoming a real comic. That’s sort of why I answered like that. I’ve heard Jay Leno answer in the same way.

You went even further to tell me, don’t do it to make money. “Become an investment banker, it’s a much faster and easier way to make money.”

I think that’s true too. I don’t know if anyone’s getting into it to make money but if it’s a plan to blow up… it’s not going to happen. I think what I was saying is that there are better ways to make money. Five or ten years of free labor before you make any money, that’s a terrible job. No job is like that. Who wants to do a four-year internship where you’ll then start making $4,000 a year and then by the ten-year-mark you might start making some real money but then… maybe never?

Right, and like you said, it’s a business where its impossible to plan to blow up. Half of the time, you don’t know where you’re going. Do you know where you’re going? Is there a goal?

I don’t know… I want to keep doing what I’m doing; keep writing books; doing stand-up. I want to create shows and make movies. Be rich. Find love. Have a family. Cheat on that love. Have them leave me. Kids turn on me, they’re on mom’s side, I’m trying to explain to them where I’m coming from, they’re like “Fuck you dad!” Eventually they’ll start dating, I’ll have to steal one of their lovers. I marry that person, have another family. Live happily ever after.

That’s it?

That’s it. And then I die.

Kasher with opener, Ron Sparks.

Moshe Kasher interviewed by Gabriel Katsnelson backstage at The Garrison 
Go buy his book which I haven’t read but I plan to
Mentioned: Mike Birbiglia, Chelsea Peretti, Ron Sparks
2012-09-22 8:20PM
Montreal’s hot spot for Comedy!

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