Dash Kwiatkowski is a Bay area comedian with a love of nerd culture and penchant for poker. On day one of this year’s Savage Henry Comedy Festival I walked into the Savage Henry offices to find him wearing some kind of superhero shirt and trying to organize a late-night all-comics poker game. He’s about that life. I recently talked to Kwiatkowski about gambling, comedy and comic books.
Isaac Kozell: Dash, you seemed to be the perfect subject for this month’s gambling issue, considering the last time I saw you, you were trying to organize a comedian’s poker game at Savage Henry Fest. Is poker your game?
Dash Kwiatkowski: Poker is definitely my game. I really, really enjoy weird degenerate versions of poker like 3-2-1, Shmeggy Deluxe, and so on.
IK: What’s the most you’ve ever lost in a single game of poker?
DK: Nothing crazy, probably around $300 in a single game.
IK: Without looking it up, can you recite the lyrics to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler?”
DK: No, but I can talk-quote enough of the song to make a table full of poker players mad.
IK: Are you a casino guy? Any good casino stories, gambling, comedy or otherwise?
DK: I do like Casinos, but I don’t go that often. When I was 19, I was up in Tahoe and I thought the gambling age was 18 there, so I sat down at a Hold-em’ table. The guy ID’d me, I gave him my ID and he dealt me in. We played several hands, and I went up like $300. A new dealer came in and eyed me suspiciously, asking if I was 21. The old dealer was like, “He showed me his ID,” and they let me keep playing. Eventually, the pit boss came by and was like, “This guy looks so young,” and the new dealer was like, “No, he has ID.” I told the pit boss I looked young because I was Asian and I walked away with $800. I’ve never played that well since.
IK: How long have you been doing stand-up?
DK: I’ve been doing stand up for 6 years.
IK: What was your worst set ever?
DK: Worst set ever was probably me tanking for 20 minutes at a benefit put on by the San Jose Police Union. It was a benefit for a cop and the infant daughter of another cop with leukemia. So like, they weren’t just angry cops, they were sad angry cops. They had me start the show when everybody stood up to get food and they had a slideshow with pictures of the two in recovery going on the whole time behind me. I made the mom of the little girl laugh once, then laugh a second time, then she felt bad for laughing so she started to cry and left. It was the Kobayashi Maru of stand up events.
IK: Have you always been based in the Bay Area?
DK: I’ve been focused in the Bay, but I do festivals around the country. Moving to NY in the next two years.
IK: Do you feel you’ve outgrown the Bay? Why not L.A. or Chicago?
DK: I just feel like you either gotta go to LA or NY and I’ve enjoyed NY a lot more when I’ve been there. I feel like the city is more my speed.
IK: A lot of your material focuses on comic books, action heroes and other fantasy/sci-fi stuff. Have you always been into that scene?
DK: Yeah, I’ve been a comic book nerd for a while now. I like squeezing it in when I can, but I definitely tell jokes about more general interest stuff too. I basically have to get an audience to like me before I can tell them about comic books.
IK: Have you ever performed at any conventions?
DK: I just performed at Santa Rosa Toycon and next year I’ll be performing all weekend at SF Comic Con.
IK: Thoughts on the new Star Wars?
DK: Man, I’m actually pretty excited about the new Star Wars. JJ Abrams did a pretty good job with the Star Trek reboot, in my opinion. I have a new joke about the new Star Wars, how they showed us like 2 seconds of Kylo Ren, the new bad guy, and his costume was badass, so now there’s a dozen guys at every con with a perfect Kylo Ren costume. But like, how cool would it be if when the movie comes out he’s just this super racist who poops his pants all the time. So it’s like, “Hey man, dope costume. Aren’t you the racist who poops his pants guy? Yeah, just super racist, crappin’ his pants all the time. Cool costume though, super accurate.”
IK: What’s your favorite comic/graphic novel?
DK: My favorite graphic novel is a tie between Kingdom Come and the Sinestro Corps War collected trades.
IK: What comic book or character do you feel utilizes humor the best?
DK: I think Deadpool, when written by Gail Simone or Brian Posehn or Fabian Nicieza is some of the funniest. But honestly since that character has become popular there have been so many horrible versions of him. People write him like Bugs Bunny and miss the point entirely.
IK: Anything you want to plug?
DK: Yeah, people can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @TheTrollverine and I have a CD on iTunes called “You’re a Wizard, _____.” Just search for “Dash Kwiatkowski” on iTunes and my CD is right there.