The Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal is two weeks of frantic club hopping, stargazing and gala events, but fear not, cause there amongst all the comedy chaos shines a beacon of stability… Moshe Kasher. For ten days straight, this ‘man’ will be anchoring a show OFF-JFL at the Theatre Sainte Catherine.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work and strictly judge people on their appearance, I just want to make it clear that I am not using the term ‘man’ loosely. Gone is the “Gitler’, (gay hitler) haircut he jokes about, and those trademark thick rimmed, lesbian, hipster glasses already seem to have transcended any and all trends, taking their place amongst other iconic eyewear, like those belonging to John Lennon, Elvis Presley and dare I say, Malcolm X? Yup, this is a man… ‘the man’ at this years festival, and like he says, he’s all about “poppin’ pussy.”
Being a big, nervous fan and a rookie journalist, I figured I’d start off with a joke, but when I told Moshe via telephone I was from Al-Jazeera, I could feel him tense up. His first response was, “Am I about to die?” I told him, maybe, but that had more to do with the fact that he was in Arizona, (which might as well be Florida, right?) But I wasn’t calling to talk politics or murder. Besides, I reassured him he was safe because technically, he wasn’t black. (Sorry, I’m still pissed off!) Now to some of you, this may come as a surprise, but we’ll get into his blackness later.
For now I was more into investigating his, er… manhood. I wanted to skip past the first couple of decades of his life, past him escaping a Hasidic life, past his Bar Mitzvah, past the extensive psychoanalysis, the drug addiction. the rehab, the gangs and crime… All those stories are inside his wildly entertaining memoir, Kasher in the Rye. I wanted to get right to the here and now. The real reason why Moshe was ‘the man’ to see at this year’s festival.
It’s been a good couple of years for the Bay Area comic. One of the sure to be hot topics at this year’s festival will be new school distribution, but that just seems old school already to Moshe. Live from Oakland, his debut special, was released on Netflix way back in 2012 and his rabid and for the most part loyal twitter following, has been growing with him ever since the software’s early days. Not to get all biblical, but even before the First Egyptian Revolution! Along with regular appearances on Chelsea Lately and his aforementioned book, Moshe has had zero problem with exposure.
But perhaps his most entertaining method of communication has been The Champs, a podcast he is currently co-hosting alongside Chappelle’s Show co-genius Neil Brennan. And this, comedy lovers, is where his blackness comes back into play. Upon first glance of the guest list, you’d think he was hosting a weekly BET show. Chris Rock, NBA star Baron Davis and Reggie Watts have all dropped in to chat. But Moshe would like to clear the air:
“If you are a white person and you want to know what black people are like please tune in. If you are a black person and you want to hear what white people are like when they timidly interview black people please tune in. If you are a non-white, non-black person you are not welcome to listen to our podcast.”
Finally I was starting to see glimpses of ‘the man,’ that sly swagger he exudes on stage was emerging. I probed him a little more, but somehow we got off course and started discussing strip joint spaghetti buffets, and deadly strains of gonorrhea… I finally got around to talking Canadiana with him, about coming to the sexiest city in the world, and the wealth of comedy our country provides his country. Due to nothing other than my shoddy journalism, we glossed over 50 years of Canadian comic greats and he gave a quick shout out to another up and comer who will be performing at the festival Mark Little.
And then it happened. When asked what excited him most about this year’s festival, he responded, “having my San Francisco friends and comic peers along for the ride.” His homies, Brent Weinbach, Alex Koll, Louis Katz and Ryan Stout. Now, that I thought, is a fucking man! A man, who stays true to his roots… who doesn’t sell out and leave his brothas hanging!
As for his act, you’ll have to see it for yourself, but I will share this. Just like his book, it tells a familiar tale – Twelve year old boy tries a joint and LSD, sees a brave new world and proceeds to pass judgement on us mere mortals for the rest of his life… and just like his book, it’s a riot! When Moshe was a kid selling acid he claimed to be a wise man offering up enlightenment for 3 bucks a hit. Not much has changed. Now it’s twenty bucks a ticket.
See him at Just for Laughs
July 18-27 9PM
Theatre Sainte Catherine
And follow him on twitter @moshekasher
Oh and lastly, there is a super weird picture of his dad on his website too… It’s probably only around for a limited time, so enjoy it while you can.