On Facebook, Krish Mohan describes himself as a “comedian and social vigilante.” That title, he explained, was given to him by a fan who stuck around to talk to him after a show.
“I talk a lot about social issues and politics and philosophy,” Mohan said. “She dubbed me a social vigilante, and I liked the term.”
Mohan brings his potent mix of humor and politics to the Robin Theatre Monday for a show hosted by Comedy Coven, Lansing’s all-female comedy trio. While Mohan’s act covers a variety of heavy topics like mental health, immigration and gun reform, his first priority is making people laugh.
“Comedy comes first. Social issues and bigger topics are what I like to talk about, but it’s always in the framework of comedy,” he said. “If you can laugh about it and realize that some of the stuff we do is absurd and kind of ridiculous, then we can start a conversation and try to figure out a better solution.”
Monday’s performance will be Mohan’s second appearance in Lansing. In August, he was a guest performer on Comedy Coven’s monthly show, which mixes sketches, music and standup comedy.
“It was a super fun show,” he said. “The crowd they bring in, they’re ready for comedy and very open-minded.”
Mohan describes his show as “a call for optimism” at a time when it’s very easy to become cynical about politics.
“It’s a lot harder to make something that’s funny and optimistic, rather than just trashing something,” he said. “It’s always easier to just make fun of Trump and Steve Bannon and Sean Spicer, rather than to look on the other side and say, ‘What if we look at it his way? Maybe this solution is a good idea.’ Trying to make that funny is challenging and exciting, and I think the end result is worth it. Looking at it in an optimistic way, attempting hope, is a better result.”
The son of Indian immigrants, Mohan is glad that activists are now paying attention to immigrant and refugee issues. But he’s quick to point out that anxiety among immigrant populations is nothing new.
“Having that background of being an outsider and never really knowing when things could get worse, I’ve never been complacent,” he said. “I’ve had a level of discomfort that I’ve lived in. I’m not in a place of anger. I’m in a place of ‘What do we do about it?’ There are enough people that care about it now. Let’s speak out against it.”
A resident of Washington, Mohan was excited to see the massive women’s marches and travel ban protests, but he is also concerned about where the movement goes from there.
“I think it’s wonderful, and we need to keep doing it to show solidarity, but my particular focus is small community action,” he said. “In a city like Lansing, which has a college nearby and is in sort of a blue-collar area in the Midwest, that’s where we need to come together and open up dialogue.”
While Mohan describes himself as a “bleeding heart liberal,” he hopes his show can reach across the aisle and start conversations.
“I’ve had a lot of conservatives come to this show and tell me that they’ve enjoyed it, which is always a surprise, and some of them even say ‘I never saw it that way.’ If you come into this show with an open mind and listen to a new idea, you can start a dialogue and be a little more understanding.”
Krish Mohan: “Approaching Happiness”
8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27
The Robin Theatre
1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing