When asked to describe himself, Krish Mohan uses a description given to him by an ex-girlfriend: “I’m a comedian who happens to be Indian.”
A few other things you should know about Mohan: He’s been doing comedy since he was 15, he places incredible value on his hair, uses Irish Spring soap, and will be headlining his first full hour of comedy this weekend at Club Cafe. His material offers up a unique perspective on race, religion, culture, relationships, and family. We sat down with Mohan recently to talk about that and more.
Isaac Kozell: What’s your relationship status?
Krish Mohan: Currently single.
IK: For how long?
KM: 6 or 7 months.
IK: How is that treating you?
KM: Can’t complain. I’m a workaholic. I didn’t pay as much attention to the relationship as I should have. Plus, I like working. That takes a lot of time. So does a relationship.
IK: Are you willing to go 50/50 on the work and relationship? Or, do you have to find another “worker” who is ok with you guys just coming together in the down time?
KM: That’s a good question. I think a little bit of both. I would like someone just as driven as I am. I’m very intellectually stimulated, as well as shallow.
IK: You went to school for design but consider comedy your career? How do your parents feel about that?
KM: My mom is cool with it. My dad doesn’t know what I do. He and I aren’t that close, which is fine. I like to tell this story because it gives some perspective as to where my dad comes from. I started doing standup when I was 15 and when my uncle came here he wanted to see me perform. I had a tape of me doing standup. When I showed my uncle he was like, “This is really funny. A bit insulting to our people but still funny.” My dad walks in and he goes, “Well, he’s no Lewis Black.” I was like, “Cool. Thanks for the confidence boost, dad.” But my mom still gets worried about the whole entertainment aspect of things.
IK: What’s her concern? What worries her?
KM: That I won’t succeed. She’s worried that if I don’t get a TV show like Ray Romano or Jerry Seinfeld, that I’m not a success. But I know that’s not true. There are plenty of people who have succeeded doing standup and letting that take them to other things.
IK: There are a lot of comics that talk about race and culture. How do you keep your comedy original?
KM: I try to keep it as personal as possible. “This is my perspective. I hope you find it funny. And if you agree with it, awesome.”
IK: What is your greatest success in comedy so far?
KM: Going back to LaRoche to perform. It was in April of 2012. It was the first set I did as a narrative.
IK: LaRoche was where you went to college?
KM: Yeah, I graduated from there. I did standup there a lot. For the return show, I took everything from, “This was me in high school,” to, “These are the things I did in college,” to, “This is what happened when I graduated college,” and then closed with current relationship material.
IK: So if your college “homecoming” show was your biggest success, what was your biggest failure?
KM: My own stubbornness. I learned the hard way about not adapting to what the crowd is wanting. I went to this biker bar. I was all dressed up. When I do a show, I like to wear a dress shirt, sometimes a tie. I’m old school that way. So this lady looks at me and says, “Are you lost?”
IK: Like, “Where’s your mommy?”
KM: Yeah! I was like, “No, I’m one of the comics.” I went on stage and did my material. It wasn’t going that well. Just a few chuckles here and there. But what they really liked was when I started talking to this guy in the front row who was heckling me. I said, “Bro, you look like a combination of every High School bully that used to beat me up.” He laughed. Everybody did. They were starting to have a good time. What I should have done was dial back my material and do more crowd work. But I didn’t. I insisted on my material. I realized later that every show where I’ve bombed significantly, that’s what the problem was. The attitude of, “This is getting said and you’re going to listen to it.”
IK: Tell me about your upcoming show.
KM: It’s called An Evening of Comedy with Krish Mohan, May 24th, 10pm, at Club Cafe. It’s a full hour. A comprehensive collection of all the stuff I’ve been working on for the last year or so. Zach Funk is hosting. John Ralich is the opener. Dan Jenniches is the feature. I’m headlining. It’s going to be a good time.