At a time when some in middle America would still prefer to laugh at gay people than laugh with us, one funny little man decided to speak out about LGBT issues on the 2010 season of the prime-time NBC comedy show, “Last Comic Standing.”
Myq Kaplan, a heterosexual Jewish comic, had America laughing about the absurdity of denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.
“Prejudice is getting weirder and more confusing,” Kaplan jokes. “It used to be just about keeping people separate — like interracial marriage. People were like, ‘Don’t let them marry us! Only let them marry each other!’ Today with gay people, they’re like, ‘Don’t let them marry each other! Make them marry…..us?’”
It was a risk since the comics advanced based on a call-in vote. In the end, America appreciated his presentation style and he ended up coming in 5th overall. GA Voice caught up with Kaplan about his style of humor and his thoughts on gays.
Shannon: Let’s talk about gay things!
Your brand of cerebral humor and dry wit pokes fun at things that are normally taboo. You reminded me of Benjamin Franklin poking fun at the Puritans. They made up part of his audience but they could see the humor in the absurdity of some of it and came back for more.
Yes. And another similarity between me and Benjamin Franklin is that I use electricity and he invented it so I think that your comparison is apt.
You put religious bigotry issues in with word play jokes. On paper, it doesn’t seem to fit but you really make it work. Why delve into gay marriage if it doesn’t affect you?
I’ve always written about the things that are of interest and are important to me. I think all people basically want happiness. With religion, we start to disagree with how to get there. Ultimately, we should start and end with “Don’t hurt other people.”
I don’t really care what your beliefs are when you’re not hurting anybody else. Most people would rather you be a good person that didn’t believe in anything rather than a bad person who goes to church every week.
As a straight man, what prompted you to take up the LGBT cause?
I’ve always had a lot of queer folks in my life. I was married to a bisexual woman for three years. She was instrumental in helping me understand these issues. I grew up sort of sheltered so when I met this woman, she opened my mind up to new ways of thinking about sexism and discrimination that still exists.
Homophobia and sexism both come from the same place. It’s the idea that maleness is a superior state of being. To be gay and a man is likened to be a womanly thing. Or to be a woman or a woman who likes women is also inferior. I’m not the prototypical manly man so that might have something to do with my attraction to this particular cause. People who are heterosexist and they think that the status quo is how everyone should be — that really gets my ire up.
Last October, you were on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and worked into your routine how studies show that kids with gay parents do just as well, if not better, than kids of heterosexual couples. Did you get any flack for that?
After the Letterman show, a woman came up to me and said that she really liked most of what I said but that particular thing about gay parents being better, she didn’t like it. She said, “You’re not supposed to tell me what you think. You’re just supposed to make me laugh.” I agree that a comedian’s job is first to entertain and make people laugh but if I can get a viewpoint across while also doing that, then all the better.
Top photo: On ‘Last Comic Standing,’ Myq Kaplan had America laughing at the ridiculousness of denying gay people the right to marry. (Courtesy photo)