You may have heard that nice guys finish last, but that’s definitely not the case for local comic Bob Khosravi. A Dallas native who moved to Austin four years ago, Khosravi’s quickly established himself as one of the most positive, friendly, community-building guys in the game, his affable attitude earning nearly as many accolades as his well-crafted jokes.
He’s recently returned from the San Francisco Comedy Competition, a month-long series of shows pitting comics from around the globe against each other on stages across northern CA. Hundreds of comics apply but only thirty are invited to perform—Khosravi was the only Austin entrant.
But he’s not a subscriber to the theory that one comic’s success is another comic’s loss, a pessimistic but prevalent attitude that’s just one of the side effects of such a competitive field.
“There’s this interesting notion that if you’re succeeding, I’m not. And that I disagree with,” he says. “That’s the attitude; ‘Oh, that person got that, that means I don’t have that, or I won’t get that, now there’s one less space.’ Yes, there’s a limited amount of resources and there’s a limited amount of opportunity in a particular year, but, for example, look at the guys in New York and LA who have made it—or even Boston or Seattle—what happened? One guy from that scene, or two guys from that scene, showed up on the national radar and immediately the entire scene blew up.”
Bob Khosravi – “Chad’s Kids”
Khosravi’s eternally optimistic outlook is one thing that sets him apart from many other comics (it’s no secret that depression and sarcasm are two of humor’s favorite crutches).
“When you are in a community with a bunch of people who are talented, if one person succeeds, the whole community succeeds—that’s what the attitude should be,” Khosravi insists.
That kind of back-having and positivity is something you might expect to hear from an improviser, not a stand up—in fact, Khosravi’s both, which is actually fairly rare (at least in Austin). While he had seen some improv shows back in Dallas, “it was just game improv, so I’d go watch it and think it wasn’t that clever. It was so easy that I had no respect for it. Then I moved here and it was the same thing: I’d go see improv and it felt like the most masturbatory thing in the world, because the only people who’d laugh were the people onstage, or their friends in the audience who also took classes.”
Then, a few years ago, ColdTowne brought three of the original four members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, sans Amy Poehler) to town. “That show changed everything,” says Khosravi. “They were amazing; they were so smart, they were on point and connected and actually listening to each other. And the most important thing was, it looked like crazy fun. At the end of the show I was like, I want to do improv.” And he did, signing up for classes with local expert Shana Merlin.
That curiosity and commitment to making comedy fun for everyone also characterizes Khosravi. While he’s well known for his style onstage, he’s equally respected for the work he does behind the scenes.
You might have noticed that open mics have been popping up all over the place recently (ColdTowne recently added a second mic, on Monday nights, and there’s a new bi-weekly Wednesday mic at Austin Java on Lamar, for example). But when Khosravi got here four years ago, that wasn’t the case. “In Dallas there was an open mic every night of the week, and when I had just moved here and I didn’t know anybody, in Austin there were three open mics—I was going insane,” he recalls.
When he heard about a new mic starting at the original Kick Butt Coffee (on Airport Boulevard), Khosravi rushed on over. The inaugural show had two audience members, including the barista on duty, and while some of the comics who showed up decided it wasn’t worth it to perform, Khosravi was eager to take advantage of the stage time.
“I went in and just did 20 minutes, and Ramin [Nazer] showed up, so he went and did some time, then I got back up. Meanwhile everyone’s outside watching me like, is he for real? The next week, I was the only one who showed up, so I just did an hour of time. I just kept going every week, and slowly an audience started coming out because they knew there was just a guy who’d get up onstage and do jokes.”
He ended up hosting open mics in both the original and the Triangle Kick Butt locations, a gig he kept for nearly two years before passing the torch.
Bob Khosravi - “The Bacon Bringers”
These days, Khosravi doesn’t have much trouble drawing a crowd. And you’ve got plenty of chances to see him this weekend; Friday night, he’s guest hosting It’s Always Funny at the Velveeta Room. Saturday, the Velv also presents “An Evening with Bob Khosravi,” featuring Adam Schumate