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What's Up Magazine

Changing the Norms One Laugh at a Time. What’s Up? Exclusive Interview with Comedian Krish Mohan

Aug 25, 2016 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould

Tara Arseven Photography

As you grow up, it can be tough finding your place in the world. For Krish Mohan, it all started by accident when he was a junior in high school. Eleven years later and that accident has become this coffee aficionado’s career and most importantly, his passion: Standup Comedy.

Krish has been featured in the Arch City Comedy Festival and The Cleveland Comedy, and is a regular contributor to the Indie Bohemian, a radio show which airs on iHeartRadio and affiliates all across the country. He’s also the host, writer, and creator of “Fork Full of Noodles,” a weekly satire web series that focuses on societal and political issues.

Krish will be performing at the Avalon Theatre in the Stoltz Listening Room in Easton on September 10th, 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Krish will be bringing along fellow D.C. comedians Dave Coulter and Denise Taylor.

Check out one of Krish’s live performances Six Armed Dolphin or his Fork Full of Noodles segment The DEA is Denying The Medical Science of Cannabis

How did you get into standup comedy?

I got into comedy when I was in high school and it was at a talent show where I had to do three to five minute sets. Which isn’t that much time. I wanted to do it, so I said yeah of course I can do whatever you guys want. It went over really great and I kept doing it every Friday. My mom would have to drive me to this music open mic at this coffee shop that was run by this hippie band and every week that would be something I would do over the summer. I continued to do it all through college as well.

What was it about comedy that made you think, this is where I belong?

To me its now the last batch in the free speech that we have. When I first started it was a different creative outlet for me. I was always into fine arts. This was more of the writing aspect of it and then as it evolved it become more of performing the written word. It’s just a lot of fun. There shouldn’t be a difference in making a career and having fun. You should enjoy what you want to make a living at it. The reason I think I keep going is because it’s the last batch of free speech. It’s a vehicle to let me express what I want to express in a creative way.

How do you come up with new material? Where do you get all the material from?

Before it was very much from my family and very family oriented type of stuff. At the moment the best way to describe it is socially conscious. It’s definitely more issue driven. Anything I’m interested in.

I accidentally came into finding a loose theme to my last show that I did which was about the fact that I’m an outsider in this very typical American cultural and in the traditional Indian culture as well. Talking about things that are important to me, like growing up as an immigrant and going through that system. I question my faith a lot. I like to come at it from that perspective and anything that’s interesting.

Right now I’m trying to focus this show on the mental health aspect because that’s been a prevalent thing in my life for a long time and I think its something that’s not really talked about very well within our society, so that’s kind of the focus where this stuff is going right now, but it’ll evolve before it’s completing done.

What has been your best moment as a comedian and why?

In general, its always whenever when you do issue driven type of stuff. There’s always going to be a conflict or discomfort with people who don’t want to be offended.

One of my favorite moments happened recently when a friend of mine was opening for me and his sister had drove in from Cleveland to see him. She brought the whole family and it was great. But, he told me he was concerned because his brother-in-law is more conservative and this new hour I’m building, I bring the issue of guns and criticize both sides of the argument. His brother-in-law was very noticeably disagreeing with me, but wasn’t going to say anything except cross his arms and lean back. I thought, ok I lost him and figured I wouldn’t get him back for the rest of the show.

After the show he came up, shook my hand, said he really enjoyed it, and said if anyone comes up to me and says some racist things to me, we’ll take care of it together. That was a really cool moment. Someone that fundamentally disagrees with what I say, but still respects what I have to say. You do have people come up to you after shows that disagree. When someone has a different ideology, but can still value your opinion, that’s a really cool moment for me.

What happens if people don’t laugh at your jokes?

I was in Raleigh, North Carolina … from the start, the audience was pulling back, I don’t know if it was the subject matter or what they expected it to be, etc. From minute one they were uncomfortable and weren’t on my side. The part that overtakes me is “Well screw it this is what I do. We’re going to double down and perform it to the best of my ability and if they’re not on board, so be it”.

To me, I still wanted to perform the material well. Sometimes I can let them know that I know they’re uncomfortable, but this is still what were doing. All my efforts to get them to come on board didn’t really work. I was on stage for about an hour and to almost pure silence. You just have to power through what your doing.

Where do you hope to see your future comedic self in 10 years?

I hope that I have people that want to come out to see. I think that’s the ultimate goal for people to come see me. I always said for me if I’m announcing that I’m doing a show, that 30–50 people will definitely come to see me and whoever is opening for me gets to be in front of a open minded, intelligent audience and that the end of the night get paid for that there doing. I think it’s important to consider creative platforms as a point of revenue as well.

I’ve never wanted to be famous or anything, I never wanted to be on TV to be famous or have a sitcom. If those opportunities were to come up, I’ll access the situation. My goal is to always keep doing stand up comedy, it’s something I always loved doing. I like touring and going to different cities and working on a show. The goal is to make what I’m working on now better than what I just put out. I want to keep doing this for as long as I can.

Is Aziz Ansari an influence?

I don’t think he’s been an inspiration for me. What I do is completely different from what he does. I think he’s a good performer, but I don’t think he’s a good standup. His Netflix series is a better package/vehicle for his comedy than his standup. I get compared to him a lot because he is one of the better known Indian American comedians. I grew up here, moved here when I was eight, but I am an immigrant. I had to go through this whole going through American culture. My sister and I are both Americanized. She was 12 when we moved, but our culture is still important to us whether we agree with it or not. Where Aziz is a lot of pranks.

Tara Arseven Photography


What would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?

I have no idea to be honest. I got into graphic design, which I still do some design work, but its mostly posters and web stuff. It would definitely be something in the creative realm. I haven’t really though about that.

At the moment there is no plan B just because this is what I’ve wanted to do. I don’t see this ending until I say, “Yeah I think I’m done,” and fade into the mist. Until I can physically not be on stage, this what I would like to keep doing.

Tell me a little more about “For Full of Noodles.” How did that come about and do you think it’s helped further your career?

I’ve been doing it since 2012/2013. I grew up watching The Daily Show. When I was nine, that’s what I thought standup comedy was. Its not, it’s a completely different thing. Once I started doing standup for a while, I wanted to talk about the issues, political and social things that I’ve always been passionate about. With standup, it was difficult for me. My mindset is I have to craft it. If I’m going on stage Monday with this bit and by the end of the week I have it perfected. By then its not as relevant. Fork Full of Noodles is my outlet for that.

In the beginning it was me and a few comedians. We would do half monologue and half political sketch satire. Then it evolved to me being on screen by myself and become more monologues and I felt like that was more what my voice of the show was. Eventually it did help build the style of standup I do now, which is more of am monologue form.

Every so often people that will watch it will come see a show, but I do have some dedicated watchers which is amazing. Lets me know that I’m doing something right.

What is your favorite one-liner joke?

It’s from Mitch Hedberg. I’m obsessed with it because the way he delivered it is so dry and mix joke – one of the most brilliant writer. That guys got loads of little quippy one liners. They’re so clever and just so well written.

“I think the company Pringles was really in the tennis ball game, they were supposed to manage tennis balls, but when the truck of potatoes showed up, he said f*** it and cut them up.”

If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring three things, what would they be and why?

I would bring coffee grinds. I could figure out how to make a fire and I can boy scout my way through getting water to make this coffee. I’m definitely a caffeine addict and I would be miserable on a hot dessert island without it

My laptop. I probably won’t get internet, but I’ll probably end up writing. Maybe have a book later about it, if I ever get off a desert island. If historians find me years later and I’m a bag of bones they can look at my laptop.

Bring a pet. I’m not a big cat person, so I might bring a dog with me. Just to have someone there to talk to. I feel like that volleyball really helped Tom Hanks, so I feel like I’m going to one up Tom Hanks and bring a live animal so I can at least get some reaction and some feedback. Plus dogs are protective. If there’s a beast or something on this island at least I’ll know because the dog will be on my side and it’ll be two against one.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get started in comedy?

Don’t do it – no I’m kidding. I would say, one, you should learn how to write a joke because there are a lot of comedians that will go on stage and its their first time and they want to be prolific. I started writing quippy little jokes about my family, but I learned how to structure a joke. And the other thing is you should be true to yourself. No one is going to be on your side if they can’t believe it’s something you would do. Once you get those two things down, everything else will start falling into place at some point.