Before winning the the 34th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition, Zoltan Kaszas was an injured wannabe professional wrestler performing in a converted warehouse doubling as a comedy club.
Now, the 26-year-old from San Marcos, Calif. is meeting with an agent and a talent coordinator for Fox Television.
On stage Kaszas, who once coached a youth soccer team, uses observational humor and anecdotal jokes from his personal life to get laughs.
“I wouldn’t have signed up to coach if they had told me that all their games are on Saturday mornings at 7,” he said. “I like to drink. I’m not teaching these kids anything except what a whiskey hangover smells like.”
Kaszas spoke over the phone to us about his big win and the plans he has for the future.
How long have you been performing?
I’ve been doing stand up for 7 years now. I was 19 when I got started. Doing comedy wasn’t my original dream. I wanted to be a professional wrestler, but I have bad shoulders. I was going to get surgery and I was like well I have to do something while I’m in a cast for six months. I always loved stand up and I was always the one cracking jokes, making people laugh, but I never thought I could do it.
What was your first time on stage like?
First time was in summer 2006. There was a small open mike in San Diego in a warehouse they were calling a comedy club. Like an idiot I brought 10 of my friends to come watch because for some reason I thought I was going to do well my first time doing stand up. I got six minutes, it was weird. I got some laughs but they were in spaces I wasn’t expecting to get them. Overall I did poorly.
I did the open mic, bombed and that made me more interested in trying to do well at this thing — so much so that I got booked for a couple shows and I cancelled my surgery and I’m still walking around with banged up shoulders.
Do you have a job outside of comedy?
I still have a part-time job at a mechanic shop in San Diego. I do the books, I’m like the secretary. Hopefully in 2014 I’ll get enough gigs, especially after winning this contest, that I can move away from that.
A lot of your material is based on personal experiences, does that make it difficult to write new jokes?
It forces me to go live life, like when someone comes up and goes: “Hey, you wanna go salsa dancing?” I should say no. Everything in me says no, but something might come of that.
What’s next for you?
When I first got into the competition I had no idea what it could lead to. I’m going back to the Seattle Comedy Underground to headline there and there’s a few other clubs that I can break in to headline which is pretty good money for me.
I’m meeting with an agent next week in Los Angeles and I have a meeting with the lady that’s in charge of casting at Fox Television in January. These are the things I wasn’t expecting at all to come from the competition, but that’s what has come of it so far. It’s been really positive.
It gets you seen by the right people, which hasn’t happened yet in my seven years. This was the first real thing like that to happen for me.
You have a first name made for a sci-fi villain, do you get a lot of questions about it?
I was born in Budapest, Hungry. It’s a family name and I was named after my grandfather. (As a kid) it was an asset. I moved around a lot and it’s a good attention getter. It doesn’t really rhyme with anything, which made it playground safe.
Share a one liner?
This is a true story. After a show once, I got into an argument with a feminist over the gender of God. The feminist was trying to tell me God was a female and I was just trying to tell her not to speak unless she was spoken to.
8:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Comedy Underground along with Bob Bledsoe. Tickets are $12-15.