Comedian Zoltan Kaszas reflects on comedy career

Funny man performs stand up routine for homecoming week

Beau Sansom, Staff Reporter

The lights of the SURC theater dimmed as students took their seats. The brightest light in the room illuminated the stage and built the anticipation to a boiling point before the room erupted in applause as comedian Zoltan Kaszas took the stage on Oct. 13 to celebrate homecoming.

According to Kaszas’ website, he was born in Budapest, Hungary and moved to America with his mother four years later in 1991. Kaszas grew up in a trailer park and later began his comedy career at age 19. The comedian recalled that he had always dreamed of being a professional wrestler, labeling them as his childhood heroes but admitted there was always evidence that he was meant to be a comedian.

“I was always a fan of comedy, but I didn’t think I could do it,” said Kaszas. “I was 19 and I was going to have shoulder surgery… I need[ed] something to do while my shoulder was in a sling, so I went to an open mic… and it did not go well, but I loved it and it really got me interested in doing standup instead of just being a fan.”

He won The Seattle Comedy Competition in 2013 and has been featured on such TV shows as Laughs On FOX and Punchline.

As a comedian, Kaszas is always looking for new material to incorporate into his routines. Kaszas talked about being hyper aware of what goes on around him during his performance. He made reference to various sources of inspiration he found jokes, including a bit he performed at CWU about the Little League World Series.

“I’m always in my head,” Kaszas said. “That last joke I did about the baseball, I was sitting on a flight, having a drink and watching Little League baseball and I was like what’s the joke here… and then that kid started doing so bad and I was blown away by his poise.”

Kaszas put on an energetic performance and engaged with several audience members throughout the show. About halfway through the performance, Kaszas talked about his mental health and his recent ventures in therapy in a post-pandemic world. 

“I talked about therapy tonight,” said Kaszas. “Going to therapy … is very intimidating. Maybe there’s someone thinking about going to therapy and maybe my dumb jokes eased their heart into trying it.”

The audience interactions reached their height during the portion of the show focusing on mental health and therapy. At the start of the bit, Kaszas said he had been working on himself during the pandemic.

“I really liked the show, it was pretty funny,” fourth year music composition major Sawyer Romano said. “I sort of came out on a whim… I didn’t know what to expect going into it but being there and just experiencing it in the moment was pretty fun.” He announced he had been attending therapy before asking the audience who else attends therapy, a question which got many raised hands and cheers from the audience signifying the trend of continued openness to mental health both on and off campus.

“The last few years we’ve been good at taking stigmas away from mental health,” said Kaszas. “As much as it seems like the world is ending, I think people are getting better in some aspects.”

Kaszas’ therapy bit had the crowd’s attention with jokes and stories that were simultaneously humorous and personal. Kaszas kicked off the bit by reminiscing how he came to realize he needed therapy.

“I started going to therapy when I made the realization that this, what I’m doing right now, is how I prefer to share my feelings,” said Kaszas. “Once I made that realization I thought, oh, I better run this by somebody.”

The honest delivery of the joke prompted several exclamations mixed with the laughter from the crowd. Kaszas later said he possessed what he considered to be a healthy level of depression before joking and asking the audience if they’d ever met any overly positive people, which received many raised hands and laughs.

“I have what I like to call a healthy level of depression, just enough to keep me humble and likeable,” said Kaszas. “You ever meet someone who could use a little depression? Just those obnoxiously positive people, ‘carpet diem’, he could use a parking ticket on a rainy day.”

After the show, students were able to get some one-on-one time with Kaszas through a meet and greet near the entrance of the SURC theater where they could ask questions, talk about the show or just get to have more time with the comedian.

“In talking with some of the students that came up to me after the show, there was two of them that were interested in doing comedy,” Kaszas said. “They just didn’t know how to go about doing something like that so I said … go to an open mic. You just gotta keep doing it … They definitely took something away from it, I could tell by talking to them that they were really interested in it.”