Q&A: 5 questions for comedian Krish Mohan

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Comedian Krish Mohan performing at the Idiot Box. (photo by Shiori Matsuoka)

Krish Mohan is a socially-conscious, Indian stand-up comedian who has been performing for 13 years. His latest show is called Empathy on Sale and he performed it at the Idiot Box in Greensboro at the end of November. Mohan also produces a podcast called Fork Full of Noodles. More info on show dates and his podcast can be found at ramannoodlescomedy.com.

Where did you find the inspiration for your recent stand-up routine?
A lot of it came from reactions people were having from the 2016 election and everything leading up to it. People were talking about the lesser of two evils and I was watching the reactions from both sides of aisle. People woke up to all the problems all at once and didn’t react to it very well.

You talk a lot about the importance of stepping out of bubbles and talking to people you don’t agree with. What advice do you have for people looking to do that?
I think patience is the biggest key. I don’t particularly agree with everything my dad has to say or even my father-in-law or Uncle Marv, and not everything I say they agree with because we’re coming from different perspectives. You have to understand where you’re coming from and how it affects your belief systems and your politics. It’s not gonna change with one conversation; it will change from both sides listening. Real change doesn’t happen overnight; it’s incremental and it’s slow. You probably won’t notice that it’s happening.

You mentioned in your stand-up that you’ve been threatened for your comedy. How do you respond to that?
I don’t give in to it. If this was five years ago and someone was threatening to pull a gun on me, I might have said, “Do it.” But a year ago, someone threatened to pull an AR-15 on me and I just said, “Hey man, thanks for sticking around,” and the room turned on him. It’s a kill them with kindness kind of thing. There was this other guy who threatened to rip my head off with his bare hands and I told him, “I’m not against you. I’m against the system that keeps both of us down.” I don’t think he heard it because he was too busy being angry and me adding more anger to that situation won’t be productive in any way. I just try to stay as calm as possible.

You’ve been doing comedy for 13 years. Did you notice anything different after the 2016 election?
People who look to comedy for escapism don’t want to listen about healthcare or immigration. It’s a challenging show, I think. They want to escape from day-to-day life. When they come, they get really upset because I’m forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. I’ve also had quite a bit of conservatives come to shows since early 2016. I think it’s a sign that we’re changing the definition of what conservative means. The ones that come to my show are fiscal conservatives and care about how economy is run. It’s like we’re on same side street just on the different sides. We’re close enough that we can have mutual conversations.

The ending line in your show is, “Patriotism is expensive but empathy will always be on sale.” What did you mean by that? Can someone be patriotic and still be empathetic?
I think you can be patriotic and empathetic, I just don’t think we are as a country; they’ve become different things. We have overcomplicated just being good to each other. The logical answer to me, is to just take care of each other. If you want to be all about “America first,” you have to care about the people in your country and I think we’ve drifted away from what it means to be American. Being American is the “melting pot.” We’ve lost our way in that and making sure everyone is taken care and gets equal opportunities.

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