Spotlight: Spencer Kahn

Kahn (10) performs in comedy club

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Back to Article

Spotlight: Spencer Kahn

STANDING UP: Kahn performs at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City

STANDING UP: Kahn performs at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City

STANDING UP: Kahn performs at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City

STANDING UP: Kahn performs at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City

Lynne Sipprelle

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To Spencer Kahn (10), comedy is no laughing matter.

“Ever since I was young, I always liked watching comedy movies with my parents,” Kahn said. When Kahn was 11, he started taking classes with the organization Kids ‘N Comedy. A year later, he began performing with Kids N’ Comedy at the Gotham Comedy Club on 23rd St. in Manhattan.

Kahn and other Kids ‘N Comedy teenagers perform their bits once a month at the club for the public, who come from all over, Khan said.

“Usually I base my material off everyday life or things that I think about sarcastically,” Kahn said. “I have a little notebook I carry around where I write down ideas when I think of something.”
Kahn said that when he’s working on a joke, he tries to slip it into conversation in order to test it out. “It’s very much a serious extracurricular,” Kahn said. “I spend a lot of time on the weekends and such, when I don’t have schoolwork, writing ideas for the next week.”

“I’ve been listening to his comedy for years,” Luke Weber (10) said. “He’s been one of my best friends since I was three and even before I knew he was interested in comedy, he’s always been one of those guys who’s just really funny.”

Kahn’s classes at Kids N’ Comedy are two hours long and take place every Saturday for three months at a time. “We write material, compare ideas with other people, and eventually form our ideas into bits,” Kahn said.

“At Kids N’ Comedy, we grow hilarious children in test tubes, and then set them loose on New York to run amok and make neighboring states funnier and odder places to live,” the Kids N’ Comedy website said. “We teach our students how to write and perform stand-up comedy, while providing a nurturing community and a space where they can be themselves in all their smart, weird, edgy, baffling, adolescent glory.”

“All our ideas and bits we write are individual, but sometimes we’ll submit them for peer review,” Kahn said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, I think there’s an opportunity for a joke here. You should go back to the drawing board and think about what you can write.’”

Kahn’s humor is very dry, Weber said. “Even when you’re just talking to him, you don’t know he’s going to be funny until you’ve talked to him for a minute or two and you just end up cracking up,” Weber said.

Kahn’s humor is generally observational.

“I was cleaning up my room and I found this thing and apparently it’s called a ‘VHS tape,’” Kahn said in a video of a Kids ‘N Comedy performance at the Gotham Comedy Club. “Now looking at it, it’s this big black brick and it’s got to be like a thousand years old or something. But I’m looking at it and I can tell two things. One, it cannot plug into my computer,” Kahn said. “And two, it cannot toast bread. So, it is completely useless to me. But I picked it up and I dusted it off and I saw the word ‘Titanic’ on it,” Kahn said. “So I said, ‘Oh, it must be from the Titanic.’”

Nate Chiang (6) has taken classes with Kids N’ Comedy as well and has seen Kahn perform. “He’s really funny and very good,” Chiang said. He likes Kahn’s comedy because Kahn does a lot of act-outs, which are when the comedian acts out different characters while also commenting to the audience, Chiang said.

Kahn has performed stand-up comedy several times for the school community as well. At the end of eighth grade, Kahn did a storytelling performance as part of an English elective. He was then asked to tell the story at Upper Division Orientation Dorr (UDO).

However, Kahn suggested a comedy performance instead of the story and has done a comedy routine at UDO every year since then, he said.

In addition to UDO, Kahn has also performed at talent shows and at Multicultural Night at the school.