Mark Klein Is Conservative On Everything But The Funny
Written by J.T. Ryder
While Mark Klein’s early career careened around the edges of the blue circuit, playing in seedy clubs and even strip joints. Over time, his act evolved and matured as he himself did. His performance reflects who he has become rather than a persona he cultivated over the years on stage. While being touted as a conservative comedian is a rarity, finding someone that is true to themselves on and off the stage is even more extraordinary.
Klein’s career has taken him from the comedy club circuits, to the cruise lines and into the corporate boardrooms, and his blend of political and observational humor has managed to win over audiences, fans and naysayers alike. I was able to speak with him as he was wending his way across the country and, as we spoke, a clearer picture of the man and his comedy shone through.
J.T.: Okay, so you are billed as the most conservative comedian…
Mark: Well, not the most conservative comedian, but I am the only Jewish, Republican, conservative comedian from Louisville, Kentucky in the world. There is only one and I am it. My political viewpoint on stage is definitely conservative and it has a definite point and edge to it. My career is comedy club work, cruise ship work and corporate speaking and I’ve kind of blended all of those into a show that says exactly what I want it to say and it’s become a real passion to get both the message out there and the comedy.
J.T.: Well, a lot of people are afraid to do that. A lot of people are afraid to use the platform that they have.
Mark: I can understand that. The minute you take a political viewpoint, you’re alienating half the people that are listening to you. My idea of a perfect show is when I see someone in the audience that doesn’t agree with me, and they’re laughing. To me, that’s just the greatest show you can have.
J.T.: Yeah, especially within the last decade or so, everyone has become so encamped and entrenched and polarized, people don’t feel they can laugh at truths about themselves even.
Mark: Right, and that is exactly what comedy is not about. Comedy, to me, is about getting people to look at the world and themselves and laugh at it as well as laugh with it. The whole goal of comedy is to find the points that we have in common and how we laugh at the same things together and then you get to use that to examine who you are and what you believe and examine the world around you. It’s a joyous way to make a living because you get to be the vehicle for the audience to be able to do that, so it’s just a great way to make a living.
J.T.: Do you think that having yourself billed as the most conservative comedian kind of limits your audience? Would someone who sees
J.T.: Yeah, and a lot of people don’t do that. People take the opposite tack and ostracize a group. themselves as a liberal enjoy your show just as much?
Mark: Of course, of course. There’s a good part of the show that has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. A tremendous part of the show is just my world view described in a funny way, so it doesn’t matter who you vote for or what you believe or where you are from, you are going to find these things funny. Even when you disagree with the viewpoint, there are jokes there that are funny. A well written political joke for me is one that makes people on both sides of the aisle laugh and even people that disagree with it will find the humor in it and be able to laugh at it and, in that sense, I try not to use my humor to polarize people, but to unify them.
Mark: There’s nothing insulting or bashing; there’s no ugliness to the show that I do.
J.T.: Well, why do you think that there are so few conservative comedians?
Mark: Well, entertainment, by it’s very nature seems to have more of a liberal following, in both the performers and those that patronize live entertainment and so most comedians are afraid of being ostracized from the comedic community for not being politically correct and, let’s face it, as an entertainer, you depend on the approval of your audience. As a professional entertainer, to get work, you depend on the approval of your peers and the people that book your work and so a lot of these guys are afraid of not having that approval. Well, I’m not afraid of that. I know who I am and what I believe and I know I can make it funny. You have to be true to yourself and my act is very true to who I am and what I believe and if it costs me work, so be it. To not be able to be that person on stage, that would absolutely suck the joy out of what I do for me. It’s important for em to stay true to myself politically onstage.
(This article was originally published on January 19th, 2011 at Dayton Most Metro)