It’s a Tuesday afternoon at The Drawing Room, a notorious and extremely dimly-lit dive bar in Los Angeles. Comedian Zack Kahn insisted we meet here for an interview. “I love this place,” he says. “It reminds me of the east village. I hold office hours here.” I recently caught with the talented performer, whose short film No Country For Superbad Men was a MTV Movie Awards 2008 Spoof finalist, to chat about standup and his new feature project with Paul Provenza.
So how long have you been doing this?
I walked in just before you so, like, ten minutes.
How long have you been doing comedy?
Well, I’ve been doing standup in LA for almost four years. Before that, I was doing some standup in New York but was mainly focusing on videos and online sketches. Before that, I was into prank calls. Before that, I was a professional magician beginning at age 7. And before that, I played a tree in my kindergarten production of Les Miserables.
So what cool things have you been up to lately?
I got to do an “If I Were President” thing this year. That was fun. It’s quasi-political so that makes it super important, I think. I’m like, really political and stuff. http://justthink.org/about/if-i-were-president-zack-kahn-wants-five-day-weekends/.
I was also just a last-minute replacement for Tommy Chong in Episode 28 of a podcast called Ardent Atheists.
Do you come from a family of entertainers?
Does the circus count?
My father is the funniest person I know. He’s an accomplished Scrabble expert and has an amazing knack for word play and dry wit and just humor in general so I think I get a lot of my comedy instincts from him. The rest I got from my friend Greg.
Does anyone else in your family have any unique talents?
Yes. My sister is a national Jenga champ and my mom is a Checkers expert.
No, that’s not true. But they’re both very witty and funny in their own ways. Even our family dog growing up had a fantastic sense of humor. Actually, kidding aside, my great-grandparents were big on the vaudeville scene and my father’s father, Ade Kahn, was a slogan writer of sorts and publicist for celebrities like Tom Jones, Soupy Sales, Jack Albertson, and Snooki.
Everything but the part about Snooki.
How does the stand-up scene in NY compare to the one in LA? For someone who’s just starting out doing open mics, etc., how would you describe the differences between the two cities?
The open mics in LA feel more like NA while the ones in NY feel more like AA.
Is the stereotype of Hollywood people true?
That they can fly?
No, that people are shallow and fake and use each other —
Just like anywhere in the world, there’s amazing people and there’s jerks. New York is more honest. I’ve met lifelong friends in California that I’m honored to know. There are incredible pockets of thinkers and intellectuals and eccentric entertainers out here, it can be great. There are amazing people out here. It’s just that there’s only 26 of them and they’re usually standing behind assholes.
Anyway, I see you have Chucky (the killer doll) on your key ring. Chucky also plays your co-host in your hilarious “Foreign Film Theatre” series online.
Thanks for watching that. I think those videos are up to like six hits now!
What’s with the Chucky fascination?
It’s weird, I know. I’ve loved Chucky since I was like 12. I think he could go on to do great things if they’d give him a chance and stop typecasting him.
As a killer doll?
Exactly. I mean, Chucky, to me, represents horror movies and special effects, two things I’ve always really, really loved. And Chucky is all practical special effects, not CGI. I met the writer/creator recently and asked him if Chucky would be CGI in the upcoming remake and he replied “of course not.” That made me happy.
I’m glad to hear that.
Can I just plug something real quick?
Hey people casting the remake of Child’s Play — I want in! Actually, that also goes for people casting anything associated with Trey Parker or Happy Madison or Christopher Guest or Chris Lilley or Phillips or Sacha Baron Cohen or Apatow or The Onion or Louis C.K.
What do you wanna do in the comedy scene and Hollywood?
Well, for starters, I want to position myself as Hollywood’s token stoner.
Are you stoned right now?
To position myself as Hollywood’s token stoner…I wanna review movies even if I haven’t gotten the chance to see them. I wanna do it all. Act, write, direct, boom operator. Wait, what was the question about blunts?