Comedian, writer, lover. We catch up with Moshe Kasher to talk about his recent memoir, how he lives with being so gangster, and stand-up before heading down to the Just for Laughs Festival.
When we first heard about Moshe Kasher’s incredible story, which you can read all about in his memoir, Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16, it was hard not to be charmed by his awesomeness. Then when we found out that he was also a stand-up comic, we were downright impressed by how this guy turned his life around without summoning some sort of dark magic.
Before heading down to Montreal’s Just for Laughs we caught up with Moshe Kasher.
Playboy.com: It's been a couple of months now since your memoir, Kasher in the Rye, came out. What has been the most memorable reaction to it?
Kasher: Probably the most memorable reaction was the threat of grave bodily harm from a guy in the old neighborhood. I was horrified but happily surprised that those guys were reading books. If I die, at least I did it promoting literacy in the white gangster community. It has all been worth it.
Playboy.com: Was it hard for you to write stand-up material while you were writing your memoir?
Kasher: No, I'm what's known in the industry as a "joke thief." So what I would do was go to the clubs at night and plagiarize the best jokes I heard open mic’ers tell. Who are they going to believe?
Playboy.com: A lot of comedians stop using material after they've done a special that contained those bits. After writing the book, do you feel that those parts in your life are now unusable as material?
Kasher: I don't think so, as these are stories no one really has heard about me. Onstage I come off like an aggressive Liberace, so tales of my sordid, violent past will be a refreshing surprise. I hope. In fact, my hour show at the festival is entirely tales from the book.
Playboy.com: You seem to really like talking about the concepts of masculinity and sexuality in your stand-up, a thing that (believe it or not) comes up quite a bit on our site, too. What is your take on Playboy?
Kasher: I love the interplay of people's perceptions of what makes a man. I'm from the San Francisco area, so the lines have always been pink and blurry. I guess Playboy likes blurred lines too. Color lines, sexual morality lines, Hugh Hefner age lines. I respect the hell out of Playboy's middle finger to the world. Also I like tits.
Playboy.com: Do you remember your first Playboy encounter?
Kasher: It must have been Madonna's spread. Oh, the hours I spent in deep meditation on that.
Playboy.com: Aside from being an aficionado of all things gangster, what prompted The Champs podcast?
Kasher: The Champs is a podcast I do with Neal Brennan, the co-creator of Chappelle’s Show, and DJ Douggpound from Tim and Eric. Every week we interview a different black celebrity. So 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 the podcast. Kidding. All are welcome.
We are three white boys who in some way are aficionados of black shit. So it fit right into our wheelhouse (please forgive me for saying “wheelhouse”). We also thought it would be a neat way to have guests who are not often heard on podcasts. (You'll be surprised to hear that podcasts are a very white world.) We have had such cool guests and most of them have never done a podcast before. Robert Townsend, Blake Griffin, Lex Steele, Pras from the Fugees, Questlove, John Legend, Jose Canseco — I know he's not black, but what are you going to do, say no to Jose Canseco?
Playboy.com: It seems that social media is really affecting the comedy industry of late. What's your view on all of that stuff?
Kasher: I love it all. I’m a huge presence on MySpace. I’m the guy who originated all those LinkedIn emails you get so often and also the reason you get so many Facebook invites from people you have never met. I'm also the blogger who is really upset about that one thing. In reality, social media is a huge tool for comics. Twitter has been very good to me and for me. It’s also a great place for people to lob insults at you. Just imagine, somewhere, right now is a baby being born with a pure and perfect spirit who in just 18 years will be a fat, racist virgin typing anonymous insults to the comedic stars of tomorrow.
Playboy.com: I just heard you'll be doing a solo show as well as a Gala at Just for Laughs this year. Is there much of a difference between performing for larger and smaller crowds (not to say that there won't be a sea of women throwing themselves at you at your solo show)?
Kasher: I like my shows like I have had to accept my penis — small and intimate. There is a lot more magic in a show where I can see all the faces of the people watching me. I then take my very small penis and rub it on those faces and that is how comedy is truly manifested. I'm kidding about my penis; it is actually very very very very very very very very very very very large.
Playboy.com: Is there anything you want to plug?
Kasher: Well I'd love everyone to follow me on Twitter @moshekasher and to listen to The Champs. And of course I'd love it if everyone read my book, Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16. It’s the best work I have ever done and I am beyond proud of it.
Beyond that, I am writing on a new show on NBC this fall called The New Normal. It's a show about a gay couple who want to have a baby so they find a surrogate to carry their baby, and that surrogate and her eight-year-old daughter become a sort of blended family with the gay guys. I call it "The Gaydy Bunch." Also, you have Ellen Barkin as a kind of gruff Archie Bunker–type, so that's gotta be fun. Also come see me live. Also I love you.