Who The Folk?! Bobby Kahn

Bobby Kahn wears many hats: an accountant by day and entertainer by night. Kahn hosts a cable-access variety show and hosts events under the name Chosen By The Funk. Kahn talks about his love of techno, funk, Prince, and his Dec. 9 variety show that he’s holding at Can Can Wonderland, in this week’s Who The Folk?!

What do you consider to be the Minneapolis sound?

When I say “Minneapolis sound” I think of funk. When I say it to other people, they’ll talk about other bands and that’s fine. To me, it’s Prince and the bands that came before him. In the ’80s you had Prince, but also The Time, Andre Simone, all these guys. Minneapolis was the spot. I started getting into funk music from Parliament Funkadelic first. There was a Prince night at First Avenue in their upstairs side room, and I’d go with my friends. We were three of maybe 15 people there, but we would go to dance. I really started digging deeper into his albums after he died.

That was your entry to the music, but you do a lot of everything. Where did the TV show come from?

I was part of a TV show a few years ago called Freaky Deeky that was a call-in psychedelic freak-out show. We used a green screen, and two of my friends would mess with the visuals. It was a live show, we’d take calls. At first, I was on the screen dancing, and there were all kinds of costumes and props and stuff. I did that for a few years and eventually, the host left and I took over as host. I used to be so scared to get on the mic. That show ended in Spring of 2012. From there I did some live variety shows in 2014. We did a live performance of [Freaky Deeky], from Patrick’s Cabaret. That’s kind of where the wheels started turning to put on a live variety show. That’s how the current show, “And Now It’s,” came together. Last year was our first season and we did 10 episodes. We’ve done five episodes this year. We have a Christmas special that we’re shooting that is absolutely insane. Last year we did a Hannukah show. We did a recreation of the story, with battle scenes. It was the biggest scale thing we’ve done.

Where does it air?

Channel 17 only in Minneapolis if you have cable – the Minneapolis Television network. That’s where our first show was. Since we started in 2009, a lot of people have cable, but now, there are so many more options. Most people watch our show on YouTube, but whenever it comes out we have a viewing party.

What’s your background?

I went to school for accounting. I have a degree from the U, and I have an inactive CPA license. For the past five years, I’ve been working at a large insurance company doing their financial reporting. All this other stuff has been a hobby, but in the last year or so, it’s been a second job. I went to the U and wrote letters to the editor about political stuff. I liked writing, and some website saw my letters and asked me to write for them. I was writing reviews about movies and concerts for my blog. A friend was writing for Twin Cities Daily Planet and I would cover concerts.

Is Chosen By The Funk an alias or a personality?

When I was in college, I used to be terrified of dancing. I went to Herzl Camp and we had a swing dancing night and I remember I faked being sick; that’s how much I didn’t like dancing. When I was in college, my roommate had a Parliament CD that we used to listen to and that maybe put something in my head. I went to listen to that band. I put an album on while I was doing homework and I just started dancing to the music. That was my bodies response. Another year later, we were having a house party and I put on a Parliament CD and that was the first time I ever danced in front of someone. To me, that was always what I thought was my “Chosen By The Funk” moment. It was calling out to me.

Before that, I was in Israel for Alexander Muss for high school in 2000-01. During Hanukkah, we went to the Western Wall one night and this group of orthodox Jews dancing in a circle. They saw us and they waved us over. We couldn’t talk to each other, but started dancing. To me, it was a religious experience. When my class first looked over Jerusalem, most broke down in tears. I didn’t have that feeling. It wasn’t something that I considered until after Prince passed away. It’s so central to my life and it was shown to me at the Western Wall, I just realized last year how important it was. That has made me into a more spiritual person.

What’s the Dec. 9 event at Can Can Wonderland?

I have wide-ranging tastes and I like to put on shows that I’d want to go to. We’ll do some live comedy with the cast of the show. A standup comedian, a dance crew, aerialists, some hip-hop beats. I’ll DJ and a friend will DJ. It’s a little smaller scale and informal compared to others. I get as much of a kick to giving the space to perform as I do performing because I have so many outlets. Expanding my network and going to more shows have been awesome. Now, I’ll send out a few e-mails and we have a show. Everything comes easier now.

Do you have a goal for how many shows each year?

I think less than the 9 we’ll have this year. I wanted to map out something so I don’t have two events on consecutive weekends because it makes promoting both events tough. I’ve had one a month from August through December. The fall and winter schedule has been a result of me mapping It out.

Favorite Jewish holiday?

Hanukkah. It’s very festive and I have that connection to what happened in Israel. I like getting together with family this time of year.

Favorite Jewish food?

My mom’s matzah ball soup. No question. I’ve had it at a lot of places, but it’s not the same.

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About Lonny Goldsmith

Lonny Goldsmith is the editor of TC Jewfolk and Director of Communications for Jewfolk Media. He's an award-winning journalist who is involved in his third Jewish community after growing up in Michigan and spending a three-year stint in Chicago. He likes to write, cook and drink really good beer. He can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @lonny_goldsmith

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