If fast-talking comedy is your bag, Myq Kaplan and Zach Sherwin are your bag boys. The two comedians, who are friends in real life, share a whip-fast comedic timing — Kaplan as a stand-up, Sherwin as a rapper — that can leave audiences reeling as they catch up.
Myq Kaplan's latest comedy album is called Meat Robot, an oddly carnivorous-sounding follow-up to his previous CD Vegan Mind Meld. He explains that the title came from a handheld voice recorder that he keeps handy to record jokes on the fly. The recorder's nickname is Robot.
Once, in a conversation with his friend Sherwin, a joke came up, but Robot's battery was dead. "[Sherwin] said, 'Oh, well, then I guess you'll just have to remember it or store it in Meat Robot' — which is my brain," Kaplan says. "In addition to potentially referencing just my brain, it also was a greater description potentially of just myself in general, or a human in general. I am a robot made of meat, as are we all."
Kaplan's comedy is filled with wry, sometimes bleak remarks. A former student of psychology and philosophy with a master's degree in linguistics, he riffs on grammar, quantum physics, and the scientific inaccuracies of the Back to the Future trilogy.
"I feel like you guys are gonna be my demographic," Kaplan said at the start of his October 2011 Late Show appearance, "which is people who know the word 'demographic.'"
As for the fast-paced delivery, Kaplan comes by it naturally. He's an efficient conversationalist, including on his podcast Hang Out with Me, on which he invites guests to "get to know each other and learn things." He's had some promoters and audience members tell him he could stand to slow things down a bit, but he's comfortable at the pace he keeps. "It's certainly not based in any specific anxiety. I'm not frantically trying to do anything other than entertain," Kaplan says. "I guess that could be the name of my next album, Frantically Entertaining."
With song titles like "Twinkie Burger," "FLAB SLAB," and "Circumcising Wolverine," you know from the start that comedic rapper Zach Sherwin is running low on street cred. He's OK with that. He embraces it.
Whether he's rapping about keeping his email inbox empty or spitting rhymes in the voice of historical characters on the wildly popular YouTube series Epic Rap Battles of History, Sherwin (formerly MC Mr. Napkins) makes no bones about his plain-vanilla stage presence. But when it comes to multisyllabic rhyme schemes, dense wordplay, and rich allusion, his skills are actually — you know — legit.
"My uncle bought me a couple of rap tapes for Hanukkah when I was like 10 years old," Sherwin says. "I started getting into it, and when you're a kid, you have no understanding that you can't do a thing."
So he did the thing, honing his rap game over the years until 2010, when he and fellow improv comic Peter Shukoff would take character suggestions from the audience and then improvise rap battles in those characters' voices. "It was exceedingly difficult to do," Sherwin says.
But they realized they had struck comedic gold, so Shukoff and comedian Lloyd Ahlquist started producing Epic Rap Battles of History on YouTube, quickly bringing Sherwin in as a writer and occasional guest rapper. Sherwin has since appeared in videos as characters including Albert Einstein (against an auto-tuned Steven Hawking) and Ebenezer Scrooge (against a slightly over-the-top Donald Trump). In one video, he plays a foul-mouthed Sherlock Holmes duking it out against Batman, with Watson at his side as a chipper hype man. "I once met a rich fellow who smelled of guano and pain / I deduce this deuce stain is Bruce Wayne!" he taunts.
For his Comedy Fest show, expect a set that's light on stand-up and heavy on sick verses.