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We Want the Airwaves: QPOC Artists on the Rise Addicted to the Hustle: An Interview with Sapna Kumar Sapna

: It is a story that relates to people who are really young and are like, “Oh I'm going through the same things, I'm looking for my parents to accept me, I wanna see somebody who's lived this life. And our community - a lot of South Asians are like, “I will never talk to you again” - for being gay. A lot of South Asian kids are like, “I would rather kill myself than be gay, and have this separation with my family,” because our family ties are so strong. So just in the fact that like, I've been able to do this successfully as this voice out for a long time. It's political in that sense that it gives empowerment to a group of people who might say, “I will never be able to be out, I'll never be able to be accepted by my parents.” *musical intro* Nia King: Welcome to “We Want the Airwaves.” My name is Nia King. This week I sat down with stand-up comedian Sapna Kumar from Chicago. She was in town for the DesiQ conference, which is a queer South Asian conference in San Francisco. I want to thank Carey Callahan for recommending her as a guest. I'm always open to suggestions and tips for people you think I should talk to, so if you have them, please tweet them at me. You can always find me on twitter at @artactivistnia. And without further ado, here's Sapna. *musical interlude* NK: So the acting came first, or the comedy? SK: Acting. Acting came first. NK: And you've been in a couple feature films? SK: Yeah, they're indies. One of them was - Wendy Jo Carlton is a pretty - she's gaining a lot of momentum as an indie lesbian filmmaker. She's doing a web series right now called “Easy Abby,” and it's gotten over millions of hits. As far as the lesbian community, a lot of people know the web series. I was in a film of hers called “Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together.” It was my first time on a film set. I mean, I had like a couple lines. But it was my first time on a film set, which was really cool. And then the second film was called “Promise Land” which is an independent film out of Chicago with an allSouth Asian cast. NK: Awesome. SK: And it's actually doing pretty well. They're doing a lot of screenings. They were doing about twenty screenings around the United States in most of the major metropolitan areas. And, oh, they got into Sundance. NK: Oh, wow.

SK: And I had a supporting role in that. Actually when I saw the final film, I was like, oh I have a pretty meaty role, and I was pretty proud of that, so. *laughs* NK: That's good, that most of your footage didn't end up on the cutting room floor SK: No. Actually I don't think there was one line that I got in the script that did not make it to the final cut. So I was like, “Wow, that's really cool.” NK: What's the story? SK: Oh, well they're actually three short vignettes that are sort of tied together, and they're all stories about immigration. And one of them has to do with a lesbian couple, that one of the partners is being sent back to India and then another one has to do with a whole family where I think the daughter is being sent back. NK: You mean deported? SK: Yeah, being deported. Deported, yeah that's the right word. 'Cuz like they're newly entered immigrants who are having trouble retaining their status, and it shows how the families are being broken apart. Or in one case how a lesbian couple, she's with an American woman, who lives in this country, and how they're being broken apart. And then one of the actual vignettes which I wasn't part of was stories of a call center. And it has immigration status issues in there as well, and I don't remember that clearly what *laughs* NK: A call center in the States or? SK: A call center in the States. NK: Okay. SK: But hiring immigrants. Basically this happens a lot in call centers where they hire immigrants who have no papers so they sort of treat them as terribly as they can. Because they don't have a way to work in any other place. NK: Right. And then who's your character? SK: Malaika Kapoor, and she is your typical Indian aunty. Just really spacey, always in everybody's business, a complete busybody. You know, and just the kind of aunty who's always making fun of people but trying to be really sweet about it, you know. NK: And was that fun, or did you feel like it was reinforcing stereotypes? SK: It doesn't because the rest of the script is done in a way that - the characters are reality-based. Like I already told you it's stories about immigration and so forth, and

being a part of that culture, there's always aunties like that. Like it's not even a stereotype to me. There's always aunties who give people trouble about their weight or trouble about who's dating who, or trouble about why isn't so-and-so married, you know, there's always an aunty like that. And so maybe it's a stereotype, but - *laughs* NK: But when you have an all South Asian cast it's not like - It would be different if that was the only South Asian character. SK: Yeah, and the filmmakers are South Asian too. It wasn't like, Caucasians who wrote the script and were like - you know, there are plenty of things that were done like that, where they had like, white - I shouldn't say 'white' but like, white writers and white directors doing a thing with a South Asian cast. And for me this seemed more authentic, you know. Because I feel like they understood the story. NK: So how did you get involved with that production? SK: How did I get involved? I auditioned. Chicago has a pretty healthy independent film scene that's kind of burgeoning, it's doing pretty well. So I just read about the audition. And it was the theater company I was in, cause I was part of a South Asian theatre company. And they invited the actors and the company to audition. NK: Oh awesome. So they almost sort of had a pool to draw from... SK: Yeah and actually, probably about five of us worked with the theater company that were in the actual film, so. NK: And was that your first time doing film, or you did the other - ? SK: Yeah I did the other film first, so it was my second time doing film. But it was definitely a bigger role. So there was definitely learning the mechanics of it all, and the technique. And also I did a LOGO TV special, so that was like my third time being on a set. Like I did the LOGO thing first, and then I did two independent films, and it was all in one year. So I got a lot of practical experience being on sets, which I had not had before, so NK: How does it feel to have - I would imagine when you're going from TV to film to film, it feels like, “Oh my career's really taking off right now,” right? But one of the things about being an artist I find is that you never know when the next job's coming. SK: Well, the thing is I actually focused on just working and not running around and doing a lot of auditions after that. A lot of times people say, “if you feel the momentum you should go with it,” and I sort of didn't. And I don't know if I felt the momentum 'cuz I know a lot of working actors and comics. I'm like, “Oh they've got a LOT more going on than me! This is good for me.” I don‟t know. For me it was sticking my toes in and learning something new. I mean, I would like to do more of that. But at the time it just wasn't the right timing for me.

NK: And so are you still going out on auditions or are you strictly focusing on comedy right now? SK: I will be going on more auditions, let's put it that way. *laughs* NK: You mentioned the first film you did was a lesbian film and the second film you did was a South Asian film. One of the things I wanted to ask is if you find being a part of a number of marginalized communities - being South Asian, being a woman, being queer is it a liability or an asset, in terms of getting work? 'Cause it sounds like for you it's helped open a couple of doors, but some people feel like it can also lead to being pigeonholed or only getting certain types of roles. SK: Well I think it does open a lot of doors. I think my stand-up act, because of the way it's written and the way it is, does pigeonhole me. Like, what I do in my act is I do impressions of my parents, and the story of coming out to them, and their acceptance of it. And that portion of the act I do feel like pigeonholes me because it just puts these accents on and does these characters, and it's like, you know, 'oh the funny Indian aunty, that's a good character for you because you fit that.' So as a stand-up I've started to write material in my own voice, that I'm Indian-American, that I don't have an accent. And just material, material that has nothing to do with ethnicity. Not that I actually think in my head, “oh I'm going to write this because this has nothing to do with ethnicity and this has nothing to do with my sexuality,” but just things that I think are funny. Which I think is if you watch the movement in comedy right now, it's all about material and jokes that are jokes, and stories and things that are funny just because they're funny or they're observational and not because they are tied to a certain ethnicity or sexuality or gender or anything of the sort. You know, it's just generic jokes. *laughs* So that's kind of the trend I've been going, to avoid that. NK: So you feel like there's a trend in general in comedy right now away from quote unquote “ethnic humor”? SK: There is a trend away from ethnic humor. I do feel like that. I feel like ethnic comics - people are like, “oh god, it's another ethnic comic.” Like, “oh, it's somebody with a bent.” NK: That's interesting to me, because working for the stand-up comic that I work for, I go to a lot of comedy shows. And I find the white guys' jokes all sound the same too. *laughs* You know, it‟s a lot of like “girls don't like me,” a lot of fat jokes… It's not like the range they're working with is so interesting and diverse, although certainly anyone can write comedy about anything they want to. SK: Yeah, I don't know if it's like - Sometimes I can't figure out if it's like straight white guy envy, that they don't have a story to tell, or if it's that it's unique to their experience because - You know, I can't figure it out. Like you said, their experiences all start to sound the same, and they realize, “Oh I'm not standing out.” Or if it's actually, you know,

I found some truth in it. Because when I separated myself from just thinking about identity and telling jokes about that, I found a whole wealth of material that I also enjoyed. So there is some truth to not just pigeonholing yourself in your identity or whatever. NK: Yeah. I mean I'm not trying to pass judgment on people who do identity-based humor or don't. I think that talking about your identity a lot is a period that kind of everyone goes through, especially when I think of kids in college becoming politicized or becoming aware of their race in a different way. It's something that - I don't want to say it's a 'phase' we all go through but SK: Yeah! NK: - but a little bit… SK: It is a phase because - I'm not going to say how old I am - but at one point that experience was more real for me. So that's also another truth. It's just that I did not take that act cause I was so focused on theater. I did not take the act that I was doing about my parents and the coming out to other cities cause I was so focused on the theater community in Chicago. But now I'm like, “Oh it's still a good story, and there's still a lot of people who haven't heard it and appreciate it.” And if I do college shows, it really does speak to that audience. And that's - it's still worthy material. For me, it doesn't speak to me as much anymore. So that's why I also feel like I'm drifting away from it. NK: No it's interesting. It's interesting to see the difference between what's of value to you as an artist, like the stories that you're interested in telling, and the stories that you are so over telling. *laughs* SK: Yeah. But that's like what you said about, “Are you unemployed?” stories and about the economy. That stuff interests me more. I mean, if I do a mainstream club, it's like, you know, what do they have here? Punchline and Cobbs - those kind of clubs. You get a mostly straight audience. Or you get anybody. You get whoever wants to come to a comedy club. But what's one thing that everybody's relating to right now. Oh my gosh, I know so many people who've gone through job instability, ups and downs, and ups and downs. I have a theory that they just take people for jobs for a little while, and then they let 'em all go and burn them all out, and then they bring in the new staff and burn them all out, and then take the people who were burnt out before and bring them back in. You know, so it's like a revolving door economy, and I think everybody relates to that right now. So that's why a lot of my material has been focused around that. NK: Do you find there are particular hot topics in comedy right now in Chicago, like something everyone's talking about? SK: In Chicago? Um. I think everybody's trying to be more narrative in general, just less punchline-y. Which has never been my thing. I'm more punchlines. But more narrativelike.

NK: You mean like storytellers? SK: Storytellers, or like something observational, like they saw something on the train and then they left the train and went to the coffee shop, and then tying it all together, and everything and how it relates. You know, I think a lot of people do that. And I think it's also about specificity, like when you see an improv show and somebody - they pull something - I think a lot of it is from the improv community too, that there's - when you create a scene or when you're creating the whole picture, you're talking about what's on the walls, you're talking about the kind of drink you're drinking, and all the little details you use. I feel like some of the stuff that writers do, stand-ups are trying to do there. NK: So Chicago was pretty famous for improv with Second City and everything. Do you find - are you talking about folks from improv migrating into stand-up? SK: Yeah, migrating into stand-up. NK: Or just sort of that influence, that improv is in the air? SK: Improv is in the air. *laughs* Yeah. And there's a lot of ranting. Like, rants. Like you get a subject and people just riffing on a subject. In stand-up, we like to call it 'rants.' NK: How do you make that funny? SK: I don't know, people do it. They don't plan their set. They get like one word or one thing like you do in improv and they riff a whole set. NK: That's really interesting. And that's something that you're seeing a lot of now? SK: I'm starting to see a little bit more of that in the Chicago area, and I think there's people who feel like, if you can't do that then you're not authentic. Like you have to be able to do that. NK: I think of that - and I'm not a stand-up, but I'm a huge comedy nerd - I think of that as kind of the opposite of what stand-ups do. SK: Yeah, I feel like stand-ups - To me, I'm kind of old school, I feel like you have to come up with the joke, you have to test the joke, and you have to polish the joke before you get up into a crowd, especially a paying gig where everything has to hit. And I feel like, if you want to do improv, and you want to riff, and you want to do whatever, then bill it as that, or go do improv. But if you want to do stand-up then you have to polish it. NK: So what you're seeing is improv - like, people coming to stand-up shows and performing what's basically improv.

SK: Well, I think there are venues that sort of cater to that, like this improvised type stand-up. But I think that clubs at least are still, like, they're not going to hire you if you're not polished, you know. NK: That makes sense, to me at least. SK: Yeah. NK: You were on Last Comic Standing! SK: Yeah, that was in 2006. NK: What was that like? SK: It was a long time ago. *laughs* It was shot in the club at Chicago, and I did not make it past the regional finalists, but I was really surprised they used my footage. Because I remember they called me and they said, “do we have your permission to show some footage?” I was like, *gasp*! I'm gonna be on! And I think I just got home from the gym, and I turned on the TV, and I almost missed it. And I'm like, “Oh my god, that's me!” And I was like right there for a second, and my parents saw it, which was really cool. And my friends saw it and it's amazing the power of television. I mean, I was on for a couple of seconds. And I was getting emails from people I hadn't seen in years and calls. I was like, are you kidding me? Like you saw that? I mean, that was really cool. So even then, I was like, „ohhh I'm not a comedian. I have a regular job. [*NK laughs*] You know, I just did that on the side, I got lucky, you know.‟ So it took me like - what, that was 2006, this is 2013. It took me 7 years to be like, well maybe this comedy thing's kind of like working for me. *laughs* NK: What do you think that's about, the reluctance or the difficulty in claiming the title of comic? SK: Well I think, a lot of it's like, society is like, “Oh you're a comedian. Say something funny.” Or like, “Oh I've never heard of you.” Like, “Oh, you're not Louis C.K. You're nobody.” So I think that's part of it. NK: Louis C.K. was a nobody for a really long time. *laughs* [He didn‟t get his big break till he was almost 40.] SK: That's true, that's true. Like that's part of it. And also like, “Oh you're irresponsible, you don't pay your bills on time, you do comedy.” You know, there's also like that attitude. I mean people are like, “Well is it because you're Indian, and your parents put pressure on you...” Yeah, there is part of that. Like I should be a “working professional,” otherwise it's not a real job. It is a working professional, but you know what I mean like, “that's not a real job.” But it's also just like, if you tell people, “Oh, I'm a comedian.” They're like *snort* “I'm a comedian too!” *derisive laugh* You know what I mean?

NK: Yeah. I think the comedian's role in society is super interesting, because in some ways they're really valued, but not monetarily. *laughs* SK: No, not monetarily at all. NK: And I think that could be said about artists overall. But they do have tremendous cultural power. I mean if you look at someone like Dave Chappelle, and obviously there are millions of comics who have not reached Dave Chappelle-level status. But they really have the power to change the culture in a way that sometimes even politicians don't. SK: Right, right. I actually think Barack Obama is a comedian. *laughs* He always gets up and is like, 'I got two minutes, I got two minutes on stage. I'm doing it about Iran.' [*both laugh*] He always gets in like a couple of jokes that he throws into his speeches, you know. NK: Yeah, yeah they're pretty funny too. And no one expects it, which is why SK: I bet he's like, “Well if you weren't President, Mr. Obama, what would you be doing?” “Well I'd be a stand-up comic!” [*both laugh*] NK: So you've been doing stand-up full-time now for a year and a half? SK: Yeah, we'll just say that, that sounds good. *laughs* NK: But you've actually been doing stand-up on the side for a really long time. SK: Really long time. NK: So where do you feel like you are now in the trajectory of your career as a stand-up? SK: I think that I need to grow my market. I think I need to get more work as a paid comic, 'cuz I've done a lot of volunteering. Even Desi-Q, you know, which is fine. I've done a lot of support for my community, be it South Asian, be it LGBT. And I think I'm at the level where it's just like, you know what NK: - you need to start getting paid. SK: - this is worth the paycheck. And I mean I have been. I got to go on Olivia Travels trip to the Dominican Republic. I did a show for the Gay Lesbian Medical Association in Napa. I've had some really nice bigger gigs here and there, other than the clubs. NK: What's it like being a cruise comedian? SK: Oh, it wasn't on a cruise, it was a land vacation. And it was at a resort. And it was great! Because it gives you so much exposure to people who - Like if you're just playing your own community or if you're playing one city, that's just one group of people. But

this was like 1,100 women who'd come from all over the country, and a few people from internationally as well. So it's a lot of exposure in a short amount of time. It's a very great way to get your name out, so. And not only that, it's also a lot of fun. Because they actually put you up for the whole week so you get a wonderful vacation out of it as well. NK: That sounds awesome. SK: Yeah. NK: How do you measure your success as an artist? Like do you think there's a point where you ever feel like you've arrived? SK: Hmm. That's a good question. *laughs* NK: Or do you feel like you've arrived already? SK: I think I need to get out there more. I think I have enough material to carry a longer set to headline at least some of the LGBT organizations. And the strength to really do it and hold the room and do a good job. And I think for me arriving would be getting that name out, and working consistently more. So that's what I think, getting more consistent work. I mean, just you know, it should be, this is professional, what I do. This is consistent work. You know what I mean? NK: Yeah. I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way, but how many comics are actually making a living doing comedy? SK: I think the people who are doing it professionally also have like four or five things they also do on the side. And I'm not talking editing work. I'm talking like, they do voiceover or they do commercials. Some of them are actors. Look at Aziz Ansari or you look at NK: I mean, if he hasn't arrived then SK: Yeah he's definitely arrived. But I'm talking about like, you know, they're successful in more than one area. So yeah, they're getting revenue, I guess you could say, from more than one means. NK: Yeah. SK: And I think, even if it's just voiceover, that not a lot of people know it's you, or that it's tons of work, it's still “in the business.” And for me, I think that's part of being a professional. It's like you can give up that other source of income that might be driving you crazy. *laughs* NK: So you can take on three or four more... *laughs* that are at least in the field that you want to be in.

SK: In the field of entertainment, right. NK: So do you think, like do comics ever get to take a break? *laughs* SK: I took a lot of breaks. And I mean, for me, it helped me get back at it with a different point of view. But I think the people who don't take breaks and move faster have more success at a younger age. I took a lot of breaks. And I don't regret those. Because I always learned something from them. But I think the people - it depends on the person. Some people can go at that high level constantly. NK: Yeah. And I don't mean a break from stand-up, I mean sort of like, you know when you have an office job, hopefully sometimes you have paid vacation. But when you're a comic, you don't necessarily have that. Or health insurance. So like, when do you get to just chill? *laughs* If ever. 'Cuz it seems like it's just a constant hustle. SK: Yeah, it is a constant hustle but I think I like the hustle. There's an addiction to the hustle, you know. NK: Makes it hard to stop, to just rest and be still? SK: Right. Well a lot of comics that I know who are pretty consistently working and successful in that area, if they're not working, they're sad. If they're not doing a show they're booking, they're networking, they're doing something in between business-related. So I think that's important to never let yourself rest. Because you're just like, well I have some down-time so I'm going to take a few days off. But really you should be networking, you should be emailing somebody, you should be going out to meet people, you know what I mean? NK: Yeah, and is that what you see yourself as doing, or that's what you see as what you should be doing? SK: I've started doing that more, let's just put it that way. *laughs* NK: As a comedian, do you consider yourself an artist? SK: Well, I don't know. I guess so? I guess. I'm a joke-maker. [both laugh] That's what, on Seinfeld, Kramer goes, "Meet Jerry! He's a joke maker! Tell 'em Jerry!" and Jerry goes, "I'm a joke maker." [NK laughs] And I kinda do that. NK: Do you see joke maker as different than joke writer? SK: Yeah, I think so. Because there's a performance aspect to it. I mean, if you want to write. I do enjoy writing. I'd take a writing gig. But like, if you want to write and sit in a room and write and come up with scripts for other people, that makes you a writer. But if you want to perform and - that's different, if you want the energy of the audience, if you

want to see their reaction, if you want to have a roomful of people laugh and that gives you energy. That's different. NK: Yeah, it's interesting. It seems like there are - Some people go into stand-up so they can eventually become writers. [But then] like Neal Brennan, who wrote for the Chappelle show, wrote for a long time and is now trying to do stand-up. And so I'm just kind of interested in how people choose their trajectories, or what it is that they want, and how they figure out they want that. SK: I think if you have the energy - I think performance takes a lot of energy, takes a lot of adrenaline. And if you have the energy for it and it's giving you something, a lot of people choose that track. I think a lot of people get out of it, because there's a burnout factor. You do it so much. You see all those pop stars who have the exhaustion or whatever, that's so much adrenaline that they're giving out and finally it's like, it's taking more from me than it's giving to me. If I got to that point, I can see writing being a different route. But it hasn't. Instead I just want to be up in front of people. *laughs* NK: The demographics that you perform for, does it skew mostly straight, mostly - like how much do you find yourself performing for your community and how much do you see yourself performing just like SK: Well I think prior to 2006 I was doing a lot with just kind of mainstream bookers in the Chicago area. And doing mostly clubs, and actually I had a lot of Latin audiences. And I worked with a booker that worked primarily with Latino crowds. And the stuff about my parents worked really well, and like there's a lot of connections there. But now I feel like maybe because the community has grown and we're doing more on our own, I feel like it's more LGBT.. QIAQWXYZ or whatever the hell we are now. So I feel like it's becoming more of that, and I think it's because there's more power in that community that wasn't there before. I think I was more mainstream simply because I had to get the work so it was whoever was willing to support me. But I like that my community's supporting me - the LGBT community has the means and ability to promote on our own and support, so you don't have to go to a show and listen to a booker or listen to somebody who says, “don't make this too gay.” Because I heard that so many times. You know what I mean. Or “don't talk about sex, because it's gay sex, and they don't want to hear about that,” you know what I mean? *laughs* NK: I went to a queer comedy show recently, and it was by far the best comedy show I've seen. SK: Right! NK: Just, the queer comedy shows I've been to here are just like SK: Phenomenal??

NK: Much, much better. It just seems like the bar is much higher. And I'm curious what that's about. If it's like, you just have to be that good before you can even get recognized, or…? SK: We're funnier. [NK laughs] It's in our genes. We have a lot to laugh about. *laughs* NK: Yeah, I mean that's true. But is that something that...? I don't think it's just that their comedy speaks to me more. It's also like, maybe there's something about it being something of a safer space. Obviously gay comics can be racist or fucked up in all kinds of ways. But if I go to a queer comedy show I'm hearing like, less rape jokes, less fat jokes than I'm hearing in a mainstream show. SK: Right. You're a real comedy nerd! That's awesome. NK: Yeah. The way I got into listening to podcasts at all was through WTF with Marc Maron. And the first interview that I listened to was, he interviewed Kumail Nanjiani. SK: Yeah I know Kumail. We came up in Chicago at the same time I actually got out of comedy for a while, and he left to go to New York and really blew himself up. He did a lot of hard work. NK: Yeah, he seems like he's doing really well. But, the interview was so racist. I still can't believe that I went back and listened to more. SK: 'Cuz they were like, “oh you're Pakistani and blah blah blah.” Were they like that? NK: That was part of it, that was a big part of it. But also just the introduction, like he usually opens with a monologue. And the introduction was literally like one of the most racist things I've ever heard. SK: I'm surprised, I'm really surprised. He's really embraced by that kind of whole „alt comic‟ community. I'm kind of surprised that they would be so racist. NK: I think that Marc Maron has gotten better in talking to comics of color. *laughs* But in the beginning, he was getting some - people were like, “Why are you only talking to white guy comics?” And so he would have these comics of color on, but basically only to absolve him of his white guilt. He'd be like, “So… I'm not racist, right? Like, we're cool?‟ SK: *laughs* “I'm not racist but...I've heard this about your people.” NK: Yeah, also that. One of the things he says a lot is that Black rooms are harder than white rooms, which I thought was interesting. SK: I think it depends. I mean, I think Chris Rock said an interesting thing. He's like, these days you have gay comics, you have Black comics, you have deaf comics, you have this comics. He's like, “Back in the day, when it was like, you had to be a showman and

play any room. And I really admire that. I think he's like, Ellen, a lot of the Carson comics - I'm talking Carson comics, old school - like they could play any room. And that's something I would strive for as a comic, to be able to play any room. And what I mean by that is you take material and you customize for each room. 'Cuz I just did a show that was for Pride, and it was definitely overtly sexual. I knew there was going to be a lot of gay guys in the room and they would love it. And then I did a show for a South Asian organization. That's not stuff I'm going to touch with them, you know. And I was just proud that I could play each room and get good responses in both. Because when I first started out, one, I didn't have the material, and two, I had this chip on my shoulder, like, I just want to do what I want to do, and I don't care what the audience thinks. Because really, it should be about the audience, you know. Not to say that you should do the most oppressive, repressive show and be like, you know, “I'm not allowed to say anything about myself.” But you know, eventually, I mean it should be about the audience, and you should be able to play any room. I mean, except for the KKK. But you know what I'm saying. *laughs* NK: Yeah, that's interesting. Because I talked to one other comedian, and I've talked to a couple of burlesque performers, and those are both art-forms where you're on the stage getting a real-time reaction from the audience, and if you're not entertaining them, if you're not pleasing them, then things are not going well. *laughs* Like it's not a good night. But there are other people that feel like, my art is for me, I don't really care about pleasing other people. My job is to speak my truth, whether I'm a comedian or a spokenword artist, or whatever. But you feel like the audience's reaction is really important and pleasing the audience is really important. SK: Not pleasing to the point where you're like, “I'd say or do anything to make you happy.” But like, why are you performing for an audience if it's all about you? You know what I mean? NK: *laughs* Yeah. I heard on WTF that Louis C.K. used to do this really bizarre kind of performance poetry that nobody really understood. SK: So did I in college, but we were all angsty then. *laughs* NK: But he would be billed as a comic and then just get up and do these weird poems. SK: George Carlin did stuff like that too. NK: Yeah? I wonder if that's a thing you can only pull off once you achieve a certain level of success. Like Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock can kind of do whatever they want at this point. Like people will come and see them. Dave Chappelle I think is known for showing up super late to shows and then having them go until 3 in the morning, just not giving a fuck.

SK: Well I think another thing is when you have that level of success the audience is immediately behind you. They're like, “We're going to clap. We came to see you. We love you.” NK: Like, “We're just happy to be in the same room with you.” SK: Yeah. NK: Oh, but Louis C.K. In the interview he did on WTF Marc Maron asked him, “So what changed that for you? Why did you start being more like a straight stand-up comic?” And he was like, “Well I had kids, I couldn't fuck around anymore. Like I had to actually pay the bills.” But still most people would think like, „Oh I have kids I need to pay the bills… stand-up comedy is not what they're thinking is going to be the SK: *laughs* Get my 401K from my stand-up comedy career.‟ NK: Right. So I don‟t know, I guess I'd like to sort of open it up to just hear your thoughts about how your career has gone so far and where you see comedy heading right now. SK: Well I think the problem is that I've never been committed to say this is a career. And my other jobs have come first, or other things in life have come first. So I think for me, I'm almost like looking at this as a new beginning. Like, this is when I get serious. NK: Even though you've been doing it for a few years. SK: Even though - yeah let's not get into how many years I've been doing it. [*NK laughs*] But like let's actually get serious about it, and try to do it professionally. Where is it going? I'm looking at moving to a bigger market, and we'll just NK: What do you mean by bigger market? SK: Well I'm looking to move to LA in October. You're like, “what do you mean by that, what do you mean??” NK: I almost asked you if you were thinking of moving to LA! SK: Yeah, I am, I am. I want to move there by October, so. NK: And what's the plan? Is that to do more acting or to go on Conan, those types of things? SK: Well I want to do stand-up and I want to focus on certain clubs I have in my mind to target. I also do want to go on auditions, and I do, you know, ultimately, my ultimate goal would be to be on a sitcom.

NK: Oh, okay. SK: That would be, you know, I would love to do something like that. And I want to participate in NK: Not to be a writer, but to be an actor on a SK: To be an actor, yeah. So that would be my ultimate goal. NK: Cool. I wish you the best of luck. SK: Oh, thank you. *laughs* *musical finale*