Don’t share all your thoughts: Only naive people let you know what they are thinking at all times. Savvy people tend to hold their opinions and point of views closer to the vest, especially if they need to do more research before making their point. Comedians are particularly vulnerable to this. With tweets and posts, we see comedians losing their jobs for things they said online more than 10 years ago. While it isn’t fair, we really shouldn’t give people too much ammo to work with in the first place. I try to save my personal views and opinions for those that are closest to me. And with comedy, I just focus on the funny.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Comedian and Author, K-von Moezzi. K-von is a popular half-Persian comedian who often uses his comedy as a tool for bridging the cultural divide amongst his audiences. He’s received rave reviews for his performances on Headline News, Good Morning America, Last Comic Standing and Russell Peter’s NETFLIX special Almost Famous. His most cherished accomplishment to date is the release of his first book entitled Once You Go Persian… which explores his Persian roots and unique upbringing through funny stories and great cultural advice.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Born and raised in Nevada, I was always able to look up and see the biggest and best comedians on the billboards. They made people laugh for a living and that sounded like a dream job to a kid like me but I had no idea where to even get started. I waded into the field with no connections or even a clue. It would be trial and error but I knew Las Vegas was where headliners go to shine, so I packed my bags for Los Angeles and started just like everyone else — in the back of pizza parlors and taco shops, where what the patrons threw at you depended on what was served that night and acted as a quick reminder of where you were.
I’m proud to say that 12 years later, I returned to Las Vegas to headline my own show and my billboard just went up all over town.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
With comedy, there’s not just one interesting story. Our whole world gets kind of surreal. For example, one night I performed at a comedy club and that same night Katt Williams brought Chris Rock on stage who announced Bob Saget next. I elbowed the guy next to me like, “Can you believe this?!” only to realize it was singer John Mayer. Afterward, I headed for a quick bathroom break and as the door closed behind me I came face to face with Dave Chappelle. Needless to say, I was too nervous to use the facilities any more.
Or maybe this one: A few years back my friend would tell me every day that he was writing a lot of comedy. Naturally, I thought it was for one of his small stand-up comedy performances. One day he asked if I wanted to go grab lunch and when I pull up to pick him up at this weird office building he says, “Good news… I got permission to invite you in!”
As we went upstairs, I was wondering what that meant until I walked into the conference room to find Richard Belzer and Jerry Lewis sitting there discussing the upcoming project that they’d all been working on together. I froze in the presence of these huge stars because it was so unexpected. Both were nice, introduced themselves, and Jerry quickly autographed his memoir, which detailed his years performing with Dean Martin, and handed it to me. I’d heard that sometimes his mood changed quickly, so I got out of there before I could find out for myself. Once we were outside, I yelled at my buddy for being so secretive and not bringing me by sooner. I cherish the book to this day.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When you are first starting no mistake is funny. They all lead to restless nights without sleep and an empty feeling in your stomach. The first few years of comedy is almost all mistakes with random jokes that work sprinkled in between. I call that panning for gold. Most jokes are water and dirt but you put those little gold nuggets in your back pocket and save them for your next show.
After 15+ years if you see a comedian killing it’s because he’s amassed a pocket full of gold. If you show me a video of me performing during my first seven years on stage I will cringe. Wearing camouflage cargo pants for my first big TV appearance was probably a huge mistake, especially since I still get mocked for it today. But, I do mention it in my act now and it gets a lot of laughs. The way I see it, at least it isn’t a mullet — it definitely could have been worse.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m most excited about the release of my new book Once You Go Persian…. It just came out in paperback and audiobook and has been selling hundreds of copies per week. When I started writing the book I wasn’t sure anyone would actually want to read it so I’d consider it my biggest achievement to date, one I can take credit for from beginning to end. There’s no luck involved in writing a book. I think it might actually have been harder than having a baby. After all, as far as I know, no one ever accidentally wrote a book after a night of drinking!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Jay Leno is probably the most interesting person I’ve ever met and shared a laugh with. I was at the taping of his show and during a break, he asked if anyone in the audience had any questions for him.
Quickly raising my hand, I yelled out, “Have you ever let a young comedian practice before you bring him on the actual show?” He noticed right away and said, “Well, why don’t you come on up here!” I sat at the desk and we did an impromptu interview. The crowd reacted with big laughs and it was one of the most memorable afternoons of my life.
Bonus: I can now say I was on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” (It’s not my fault the cameras weren’t recording!)
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I really don’t want to give any advice here. If a comedian wants to burn out, then go for it. Comedy has picked me up, kissed me, kicked me in the stomach, put me on TV, bloodied my nose, dusted me off, shined me up, held me in the air and then dropped me on my head again. If any of that sounds uncomfortable then comedy isn’t the right line of work for you. People see us on a sold out Saturday night and mistakenly assume our whole life is really that amazing, but it’s not.
Walking on the crunchy carpet from unknown spilled liquids, travel delays, and getting dumped by your girlfriend because you are never home has a way of keeping you grounded.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I try to focus on the 5 F’s I find most important.
The movement I would start would be to encourage people to find their 5 F’s. In fact, it’s already in the works and I plan to take a moment away from stand up comedy after this next Comedy+Book Tour so that I can deliver funny yet impactful speeches at corporate, private, and charity events around the country.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Give it Away Now:When I first started comedy I had this great idea: I decided not to post my material online. Instead, I’d only post my flyers thinking if anyone wanted to see my comedy, they’d have to do it live. I quickly became frustrated because very few people were coming to the shows. So I thought, “I’m just gonna post all these comedy clips I’m sitting on and maybe look for a new line of work.” But something very funny happened. People started sharing my clips and by the end of that year, more people were coming to my shows. What a dummy I was. I’d been sitting on the answer the whole time. Now, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers say, “GIVE IT AWAY, GIVE IT AWAY, GIVE IT AWAY NOW!
2. Save money and use it on the important stuff: CASH is king. Yes, you could buy that new car, a shiny watch, and the most stylish clothing. But in the long run, those things will fade. When I needed to write a book there was a cost associated with that, about $20,000. Filming each 1-hour comedy special came with a price tag too. But I’m ok with that because it was money well spent. My old comedy clips and projects continued to get me work long after my cargo pants went out of style and my new projects will do the same.
3. It won’t happen overnight: People told me this but the truth is we always think we can beat the system. A comedian told me, “It’ll take 10 years before you are any good.” And I thought no way, not me. I think I beat the curve a little bit, but not by much.
4. Beware of fly-by-night comedians: In our business, there are so-called comedians who move into town, buddy up to you, learn your secrets, whisper them to others, ruin relationships with fellow comedians and comedy club owners, and do anything they can to try and further their career. Then, two years later they say, “That was fun and all, but comedy isn’t for me,” and decide to move home and leave the wreckage behind. I’m sure anyone reading this has experienced at least one fly-by-night person in their career. The problem is you don’t know who’s who. After all, when they first arrive they seem so sincere. Proceed with caution with these Mary Poppins.
5. Don’t share all your thoughts: Only naive people let you know what they are thinking at all times. Savvy people tend to hold their opinions and point of views closer to the vest, especially if they need to do more research before making their point. Comedians are particularly vulnerable to this. With tweets and posts, we see comedians losing their jobs for things they said online more than 10 years ago. While it isn’t fair, we really shouldn’t give people too much ammo to work with in the first place. I try to save my personal views and opinions for those that are closest to me. And with comedy, I just focus on the funny.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Sometimes you aren’t glad you showed up until after you’ve left.” That quote always reminds me that when I don’t want to try something or go to some event, I should just shut up and deal with it. It’s important to show up and find out what it’s like and I think kids need to be told this more often. I’m constantly surprised how many great opportunities show up when I do too.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Early on while doing comedy as a hobby, I landed a great corporate job and was about give up on my dream of becoming a comedian.
I found myself on a plane sitting next to a nosy passenger who asked why I seemed bummed out. I told him that I’d gotten a job and was going to make a lot of money but was giving up on comedy. Just like Jiminy Cricket, he told me to maybe give comedy one more try and keep going. Without knowing me he just said he believed I could do it and he didn’t want me to regret quitting.
That was actually the famous pianist Jim Brickman. So, I guess I owe him a lot of thanks. Conversely, if you hate my comedy — he is to blame for all those YouTube videos you see online. Direct all your hate mail to him this month!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Bono. He is an entertainer, a philanthropist, a rock star, a living legend, a father, and has inspired me in many ways even when I don’t agree with every single idea he has. I would ask him how he keeps all those balls in the air at the same time. Then I’d sing my favorite songs of his to him and he would beg me to shut up. Plus we both go around using one name, so we could discuss that too.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can check out my website K-vonComedy.com, catch me on Youtube (youtube.com/KvonComedy) or connect with @KvonComedy on Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!