Stand-up comedian Krish Mohan wants us 'investing in each other'

With comedy special “Empathy on Sale,” Mohan tries to bridge political divides with his unique brand of humor

Stand-up comedian Krish Mohan wants us 'investing in each other'

Krish Mohan discusses political and social issues within the framework of stand-up comedy to let down the audience's defenses and start conversations on controversial topics.

Krish Mohan is a self-described social vigilante.

“To me, any activist is a social vigilante,” Mohan said. “Any protester is a social vigilante.”

Mohan’s method of social vigilantism? Stand-up comedy.

“I’m breaking these very traditional social protocols because comedy is only supposed to be about the superficial stuff, the very Jerry Seinfeld-type things,” Mohan said.

In his upcoming show “Empathy on Sale,” Mohan uses comedy to tackle traditionally divisive topics such as identity politics, mental illness and the misunderstanding of progressivism. Mohan said that his goal isn’t to sermonize. Instead, he strives to kickstart a conversation among the audience.

“When you get somebody to laugh at something, you’re easing their mind,” Mohan said. “You’re adding some levity to something that’s very difficult for them to address and now you have this open forum to talk about it.”

In some cities, Mohan has found that his audience is uncomfortable with his style of comedy.

“I might be one of the very few people that broached this subject in some sort of public platform, so they get uncomfortable because it’s not something that they normally talk about,” Mohan said.

He’s faced plenty of unreceptive audiences on his journey to becoming a nationally touring comedian. When he first incorporated politics into his bits, he found himself booking fewer and fewer gigs at comedy clubs and private events.

But “controversial” comedy was always the sort of comedy Mohan wanted to perform. He found himself performing at Fringe Festivals, talent showcases that give artists free reign to create a performance that suits their vision.

His newest show is centered around empathy and cultural bubbles. Politics are divisive, Mohan said, but they don't have to be. Comedy can release the tension between progressivism and conservatism, he said, and Mohan tries to point out hypocrisies on both sides of the political aisle.

“If both sides can kind of laugh at the hypocrisies of the group,” Mohan said. “Then you can see the other side and say, ‘oh I get where these guys are coming from too.’”

Comedy and empathy will rarely convince someone to immediately change their mind, but, as Mohan described it, it’s the “first step.”

“As Bill Hicks would say ‘you’ve planted a seed,’” Mohan said. “If you want people to think differently, to think more progressively, or just about each other… then you should be investing in each other. You should be investing in people and not constantly be at each other’s throats.”

Krish Mohan will be performing at the Reliable Tavern in Park View (the closest Metro stop is Georgia Avenue-Petworth Station) on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online for $5 and $10 at the door.

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