Anthony Kapfer Is A One-Liner Comic With 101 Talents

By Matt Levy

Kapfer staring into the abyss to conjure up his next killer one-liner (Photo courtesy of Robert Mauriello).

“Some people refer to me as a struggling comedian, but I always correct them. I say, ‘Hey, hold on. I’m also a failed musician.’”

That’s a perfect joke. While it might sound like a pithy one-liner from Steven Wright or Mitch Hedberg, it wasn’t penned by either of those madcap geniuses. The writer was actually one-liner comic, musician, cartoonist, director, author, artist and actor Anthony Kapfer. He might write one-liners but he definitely has more than one talent.

Kapfer’s deep dive into the world of performing arts started at a young age. He began playing the guitar and drums as a kid while growing up in each of the five boroughs of New York City. Anthony really does try everything he can.

About his early days as a musician, Kapfer said, “My mom is this cool rock and roll type and she got me into music like The Ramones, The Cars, B-52s and Bowie and then she bought me a guitar for my tenth birthday.” It wasn’t his thing, so for his eleventh birthday he asked for a drum set and she got him that too. When he started playing in bands, she drove him to rehearsals, gigs and even let him play drums in the living room. Rock and roll moms are cool like that.

Kapfer, long haired and lanky like a rock star, played in punk bands in high school and was a major player in the local DIY scene. They ran their own shows, made their own merch, were their own roadies. That ethos has stuck with him his entire life. Whatever it takes.

In fact, his yearbook quote echoes that. It’s a Weezer lyric from The Green Album, which Kapfer says, “Is embarrassing.” I don’t think so. It’s defined his creative career:

“If you want it, you can have it, but you gotta learn to reach out there and grab it.”

After graduation, Kapfer continued reaching out and grabbing, making a living as a drummer before he found his calling as a comedian in 2011. Kapfer went with a friend to open mics, filmed each other’s sets, and gave notes to one another. At first, they were going to one open mic every night and then upped it to two or three a day. Soon after, they were running their own bar shows and finally working the club circuit.

His quick rise in the scene can be attributed to him focusing solely on “Becoming the best joke writer I could be.” He was a punchline man refusing to trade in lengthy setups which set him apart from his peers. Then, a few years ago, he started to shift that focus to humorous songs, an even rarer commodity in the New York comedy scene.

Kapfer uses everything he’s learned from his time playing serious music and crafting tight, short jokes to combine the two into a style of comedic music that is unlike any other act you’ve ever seen. He makes music that sounds serious but is full of sarcastic, subtle humor. It makes sense as Anthony cites his main creative influences are Zach Galifianakis, Nirvana and Gary Larson’s “Far Side” comics. That makes for a comedy cocktail audiences have never seen before.

His unique act was strengthened even further by one of his good friends and favorite comics, Rob Ryan. The two met doing clubs and every time Anthony saw Rob he was impressed by his new, polished material which motivated Anthony to work harder and write more. Whenever they did shows together Anthony started making sure he had new stuff too to match Ryan. This has led to a fruitful partnership and to this day, where Anthony runs basically every one of his new jokes and songs by Rob.

However, it’s just not on the stage where Anthony’s comedy is breaking ground. While working as a video editor for experimental film artist Coleen Fitzgibbon, he taught himself to make cinema. As a result, he makes comedy films that look and feel like arthouse fare. Plus, he does animation. In fact, he released the world’s only self-animated stand up special Anthony Kapfer: The Animated Stand Up Comedy Special. He also made a cartoon when Trump was first elected sarcastically titled Give Him A Chance. He got a bunch of Gen X icons to lend their voices to the project like Noodles, from the Offspring, Kevin Allison from The State, and Frank Conniff from MST3K. A few other choice projects from his oeuvre include a book of one-panel comics, short stories, essays called Book: The Book which is available on Amazon.

All of those achievements led to the proudest moment of Kapfer’s burgeoning career when, for a year, his artistic achievements kept him financially solvent while living in NYC- not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination. He would soon be leaving New York though.

“I once said, and I quote, ‘I’m paraphrasing right now.’”- Anthony Kapfer

In 2019, Anthony spent ten months touring nonstop across the country, headlining shows. He passed through Denver for a few days, and met a friendly audience member named Amber. She came to a few shows, they hung out, then kept in touch for the remainder of the tour and whenever Kapfer had a week off, he’d fly back to Denver rather than staying in Bushwick. When the tour ended, Kapfer decided to move to CO to be with Amber. The couple now live together snugly in a one-bedroom apartment with their excellent dog Merle, and cat Benny (she’s ok).

Since the move, Kapfer opened the Denver Comedy Lounge in October with Ben Kronberg, and the two of them run shows together. Anthony loves how weird and experimental Ben is onstage and looked up to him when he started out and still does.

Now that all live shows are on hold, the two of them coordinate a handful of streaming shows on IG Live and Zoom. Their first foray into digital comedy was the pre-recorded show Digital Slumber Party! The hour long show consisted of the twosome working out material and friends’ pre-recorded videos. The Denver duo also has The Quarantalent Show every Thursday at 9 PM EST. Then, on Fridays and Saturdays they host the talk show Good Evening with Benthony. Thus far, the show has had high profile guests like Ted Alexandro, Noodles and Todd Morse from The Offspring and Corrine Fisher from “Guys We Fucked.” They might be releasing these shows for posterity in some way soon.

A week before everything shut down, the tireless Kapfer released an album of comedy songs called Cats Using Toilets (It should be noted, Benny, his cat, is on the cover. Merle is in many of the videos he makes as well). It’s available on all streaming services, his website and Bandcamp in digital form and pink cassette. The cassette artwork includes lyrics and a download card for the digital copy, you know, in case you want to actually listen to it.

Anthony also recorded a six-song audio/video EP called Social Distancing Butterfly: Live At Home about the shutdown/quarantine live in his living room. You can pay what you want and the download comes with the audio and video of the full performance.

Kapfer is thriving in quarantine and the rest of us can barely keep up.

When not running shows and releasing albums, Kapfer is writing new material for his act, recording quarantine songs and albums and is set to release his meta concept album beautifully titled Comedy Songs Are Not Funny.

With all that said, he’s still available to do podcasts, live stream shows and any other projects in need of performers, writers, or musicians. Or if you just want a great one-liner. He’s your man for that too. Kapfer DOES do it all, after all.

At the beginning of this profile, we said Anthony was a failed comedian and musician. After reading this, you know that joke is just a joke. He’s a success in every way.

You can find the human one-man band on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, his website, Bandcamp, his book Book: The Book on Amazon and the comedic sci-fi thriller film he starred in Mute Date also on Amazon, directed by Cody Clarke. You’ve got your work cut out for you.

If you want to check out his favorite quarantine content here’s some of Anthony’s favorites:

Movies and TV: Wayne’s World, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’ World On A Wire, 90s SNL, Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, Dr. Katz, MTV’s The State, Kids in the Hall, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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