Kris Mohan: Comedy Cares

BY // MAX GREENHALGH

I’ve heard the beginning of Krish Mohan’s comedy story before; he started out performing at his high school’s talent show, and then fell in love with performing, opening for his friends’ bands and performing at coffee shops whenever he could. However, even in his earliest jokes Mohan foreshadowed the unique path he would go down as a comic. “I think I had one joke that involved Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, and how silly I thought it was.” With an easy chuckle, he added that “everyone talked about Hitler and the Nazis and made fun of them, but I was like, ‘There’s other fascists in the world.’”

Mohan would likely take issue with describing his act as simply political. “I consider ‘politics’ [to be] talking about the presidential candidates or policy issues or something like that… I try to talk about ideas and philosophy in my act,” he explained. “It challenges me to address particular issues in a new way.” As of now, Mohan sees comedy as a necessary and important vessel to get people to listen to his ideas. “In order to get people to care, it has to be entertaining.” He brings up the example of his view that healthcare is a human right, and in that instance, “the humor is there for people that believe healthcare should be a right… but it serves a second purpose: to get people that don’t think healthcare is a right to listen to that, and instead of getting angry at it, at least hear the argument.”

With this focus on applying humor to effect change, one might think that the quality of the jokes would suffer. This, however, was not the case at Mohan’s show this past week at the Pie Shop. He has a more dynamic style than just talking about politics. Mohan showcased his chops as a storyteller with a single thread of jokes related to Indian culture that had the audience fully engaged. However, this story was not just a straight street, but one interconnected with alleys and interludes that Mohan would occasionally guide the audience into to keep us on our toes. From imperialism to money to tourism to bodily fluids, Mohan finds a way to weave dozens of interesting jokes into a central narrative in a way that is cohesive enough to make me want to walk back down that street again, confident that I’ll pick up something new.

However, the undertones of political elements such as religion and the real price of wealth, don’t always stay between the lines. In the later part of the performance, things slowed down, and Mohan began to make more political points than jokes. While the energy of the audience stayed up for most of the show, including this part of it, I felt that the transition was a little sharp. Instead of a slow change of direction, it felt like a near-instant screeching halt. That said, once we settled in again, I was impressed by Mohan’s ability to pick up rounds of applause for thoughtful statements so quickly after generating raucous laughter. The rest of Mohan’s performance felt a bit like a TED Talk that I wasn’t told I was attending beforehand, and although I wish I could have prepared for one more consistent, flowing event rather than attending two at once, it was still an effective showing that urged me to think and feel differently about certain issues, with an overarching message of increasing overall sentiments of generosity and kindness in society.

After the show, as I walked down the street to catch my Uber, a homeless man asked me for some money. Without thinking, I instantly reached into my wallet and gave him five dollars. Mohan spread a feeling of care and respect to me, and as the man gratefully explained to me all the good that this five dollars would do for him, we shared that feeling too.

To find out more about Krish Mohan including future shows and previous comedy albums check out https://ramannoodlescomedy.com/

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