Moshe Kasher is a comedian hitting the Pittsburgh Improv for a string of dates May 31 – June 3. You might recognize him from his appearances on the popular E! series Chelsea Lately or from the following list of notches in his comedy belt: iTune’s â€œTop New Comedy Artistâ€ of 2009 – Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival’s â€œBest of Festâ€ in 2010 – Appearances on Comedy Central and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. This year, Kasher added â€œAuthorâ€ to his list of conquests after the release of the brutally funny and shockingly honest autobiography Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16. I caught up with Kasher before his upcoming four night stint at the Pittsburgh Improv.
Isaac Kozell: Your most noteworthy career titles include Stand-up Comedian, Writer and Actor. If you could add only one more title, what would it be?
Moshe Kasher: OBGYN. But I only practice as an amateur and I try real hard to avoid the “OB” part if you know what I mean. Do you know what I mean? In case you don’t know what I mean, I mean that I am alone in the world and terrified of emotional intimacy and commitment.
IK: While listening through headphones to your recent appearance on the Who Charted? podcast, I couldn’t help but notice that your voice is the audio equivalent to sweet, smoky molasses, leading me to the revelation that you could single-handedly revive the fading phone sex industry. Is that a direction you would be willing to take?
MK: Anything is possible if comedy doesn’t work out. I have had a lot of hands on experience with phone sex already if you know what I mean. In case you don’t know what I mean, I mean that I have masturbated extensively to phone sex.
IK: Your autobiography, Kasher In The Rye was just released in March. What was the motivation to put your turbulent childhood into book form?
MK: Someone once said that anything you can laugh at you will never be ashamed of again. So there was that. I wanted to try and alchemize my trauma into laughs and I wanted to tell a story that felt like it mattered. And I think I did that. Now the world knows everything about me, so my tender underbelly is exposed. Please do not poke at it.
IK: I was browsing reviews of your book on Goodreads. Most of them were very positive. But I found one, from a woman named Kim, who gave you 1 out of 5 stars. She said, “Really liked the guy when he did standup on a late night show, but sadly, too many swear words and such for me to get far into it. Deleted from my iPad.” How do you feel about people who find your art offensive?
MK: It should be noted that Kim is 9 years old and thus isn’t allowed to hear swears. Strangely though, she is allowed an iPad. I don’t get it. Parents huh?!? I cannot worry too much about people finding my stuff offensive. I don’t do what I do to try and offend people. I do what I do because I’m trying to create something I find compelling and funny. Sometimes that offends, sometimes it doesn’t. I never want to offend anyone but if I tried to create content specifically to avoid offending people, I would be essentially making a kids show. Finally, something Kim would be allowed to enjoy!
IK: On stage, you have a sassy energy and physical presence that often leads to you being mistakenly labeled as gay. Your stand-up sets are peppered with references to your sexuality and others’ perception of it. Have you received any feedback from the gay community about the way you handle this issue?
MK: I am obsessed with normative ideas of masculinity and sexuality. People assume they are one and the same but of course, they are not. Many gay dudes are super masculine and many straight guys love to wear make up and women’s underwear (Mitt Romney specifically. I have this on good authority.) So onstage I love to be big and foppish and watch people’s minds get blown (sorry) when I mention that I only sleep with women. I’m actually much less sassy offstage but I do enjoy colorful underwear. And sex with men. See there I go again.
IK: You have a podcast, with Chapelle Show Co-Writer Neal Brennan and DJ Douggpound, called “The Champs”. For those unfamiliar with the premise of the show, it’s basically three white guys, with an unusually high amount of street cred, chatting with black celebrities from every corner of the entertainment and sports world. How did the show come about? And how are you able to successfully pull off what could be a very tricky premise?
MK: Well we wanted to create a show that would not stick to typical formatting of podcasting which is a very white world for the most part. As I hate white people, this was a no brainer. (Im kidding white people, I love you – I even AM one of you!) Honestly the idea to interview black celebrities has given the show a specific angle that makes it unique and interesting. We were worried that people would look at it as fetishy and weird and for the most part, I think we have avoided anything like that. It’s a really unique show and the best part is, since podcasting is traditionally such a white bread world, many of the people we have interviewed have never been asked to do a show like ours before so we get some great exclusives.
IK: You grew up fully immersed in West Coast hip-hop. Do you have a favorite verse?
MK: In Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good day” he says “Today I didnt even have to use my AK- I gotta say it was a good day.” I find this verse so imminently relateable as every day (so far) has been a day where I didn’t have to use an AK. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I have honestly never used an AK-47 assault rifle to mow down an enemy. Never. And Until I do? I will continue to have good days.
IK: What can Pittsburgh expect from your upcoming shows at the Improv?
MK: Lots of love, sex and dynamite.
Catch Moshe Kasher May 31 – June 3 at the Pittsburgh Improv at the Waterfront. Tickets can be purchased here.