Mehran is Not Your Typical Comedian

Mehran Khaghani

By Jennifer Gable

Mehran Khaghani

BCT: You did Last Comic Standing a couple years ago.

Mehran:Yeah, they’re great. They gave 100 of us a huge opportunity, this huge platform, and made all of us look good. No exploitation. Really lovely.

And you perform at The Comedy Cellar now in New York City. What’s interesting about you is that you’re a gay Iranian Comedian. I feel like you’re the only gay middle eastern comic that comes to mind.

I feel like I am too? Although, who knows what other comics do behind closed doors. Maybe they’re all secretly gay middle easterners. I’m just happen to be out. There could be literally thousands of secret gay Iranians going to extreme lengths to hide themselves in the comedy community. It’s entirely possible that stand up is a sleeper cell that no one has invited me into.

I’m bisexual.

You don’t say.

Lol, It’s great! I’m an equal opportunist.

For crying out loud.

You were born in London. And you started comedy in 2007.

I come from the underground arts scene in Boston. I would MC Shows there & do experimental theater and get generally blitzed on everything with this close knit family of freaks. My family of freaks.

You seem like you have a lot of energy.

I’m known as an energetic comedian, I hear that from people. I have a lot of energy on stage and off, but it’s probably owing to the shear number of hours I spend laying down. If I’m not on stage, I’m lying down somewhere- a tub, a bed, a fainting couch, the floor, across three chairs, under a table in a dining room… way more time horizontal than vertical.

So when did you move to NYC?

I was opening for Eugene Mirman in Northampton, MA & his manager at the time, Olivia Wingate, saw me and signed me that night after his show. She insisted I move to NY asap. I moved here probably eight months after that and I’ve been here for two and a half years.

You seem to be doing pretty well!

I feel like I’m just starting to lay my roots here. I knew as soon as I got to NYC that getting established here was going to take time. There’s so much great talent, lots of different clubs, a lot of different circles so getting grounded was a huge priority. It just takes time. The audiences in NYC are so great and they’re tough. I love the energy and I love the challenge. The Comedy Cellar has been the greatest learning and proving ground of my life.

Before Comedy you worked at Harvard.
Check out who did their research! Yeah, I worked at Harvard. Project Manager in the Office of the President and the Provost and a bunch of gigs at the School of Public Health. I was one of four people to walk the President Larry Summers, out of Mass Hall when he resigned. To most people, that means nothing, but to people all mixed up in that world, it was a unique perspective.

Do you do any political humor?
Sure! I mostly save my political opinions for my personal social media pages. On stage, comedy comes first. I mean, I’m sure everything I do has a certain political take on it just based on the realities of who I am. I’m an immigrant, I’m gay, I’m loud, I’m flamboyant… my perspective on the world is in there.

Right on, you have a funny joke about being in TSA wearing a cropped tee shirt.
Yes and actually it’s 100% based on truth. My Uncle died shortly after 9/11 and I had to fly to his funeral from Miami. My name really is that Iranian, so I literally wore a Hanson half shirt that said MMMBob above my ass and I went to the airport. Faggy as hell and I’ll tell you, it made for a very easy trip through security. There was no question that I was like a rooty, tooty, fresh and fruity young gay buck living in Miami.

So do you get a lot of your comedy based on truth or what inspires you?
Absolutely, I think truth is important. There’s so much pride in this world and there’s so many people who are like ‘I’m doing everything right & I feel great, and you have to feel great ALL THE TIME. And are you pursuing happiness? And are you happy all the time?’ And I feel like I have a certain responsibility to people to be like, ‘My God, the pressure of that must be the worst. Ya know what I mean? I don’t take care of myself. I can be incredibly cruel to myself. Nobody’s batting 1000… relax. Everybody relax.

Do you think Comedians are masochistic?
I don’t know. Are we?? I mean, I’ve met all kinds of Comedians. I know Comedians who are incredibly pleased with themselves and are VERY gentle with themselves. I also know comics who just beat the shit out of themselves over NOTHING. The act of comedy can be punishing, though. Especially in the early years when you bomb harder or at certain important moments. That’s brutal. Surviving that takes a certain masochism.

What are some of your future goals?
I plan on recording & putting together a special sometime this year. And being at the Cellar is a whole other ballgame. I look to constantly improve there, the bar is set so high. So I work to become more & more worthy of that stage.

Where else can we see you perform?

I run a show in the city, with my friend Ryan Donahue at a bar called Pinks in the East Village. Every Monday night at 8. Free as hell. Great drinks. Super talented comics.

 

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