Neha Kohli, a CPA accountant working at Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe

“Accounting makes me a better comedian,” says Neha Kohli, a 27-year-old CPA who splits her time between her consulting business and doing comedy. “I never thought they would complement each other, but they do. Working with numbers can be almost meditative, and it creates space for creativity.” (Photo by Nathan Cyprys)

Features | From Pivot Magazine

Funny business 

Neha Kohli, a 27-year-old CPA who splits her time between her consulting business and doing comedy, might just be Canada’s funniest accountant

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How important was the opportunity with Second City to you?
Neha Kohli: When I got into the conservatory program at Second City, I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. So, I quit my job, moved back in with my parents and called 2017 “the Year of Neha.”

What was your parents’ reaction?
NK: My dad immigrated from India when he was 27, leaving his family and business, so he understands what it means to take a risk to do what you want. My parents were apprehensive about my comedy. They wanted me to be happy, but also wanted to make sure I wasn’t just going to stay home and sleep.

Why did you start your business?
NK: I started my own tax-consulting company to make ends meet. I specialize in entertainers—comedians, musicians, painters. It’s where my two worlds meet.

Have your struck a balance between the two worlds?
NK: In 2017, I worked 16 hours a day. I’d consult during the day, go to Second City, eat dinner, do a performance, go to bed, wake up and do it all over again. But it didn’t ever feel like work.

What was your first time performing stand-up like?
NK: I’ve gone skydiving, but my first time doing stand-up was 1,000 per cent more nerve-racking than jumping out of a plane. Nothing compares to being up there, alone, looking relaxed but trying not to throw up.

Was becoming an accountant always your career plan?
NK: My parents are both accountants and always said, “Accounting is a stable profession.” It doesn’t take an accountant to figure out an accountant plus an accountant equals another accountant.

Do comedy and accounting have any connection?
NK:
Accounting makes me a better comedian. I never thought they would complement each other, but they do. Working with numbers can be almost meditative, and it creates space for creativity. Sometimes I’m sitting there working on a return and suddenly a joke pops into my head.

What are your future goals?
NK: I teach part-time at Centennial College. I want to counsel young accountants who are full of creativity and tell them, “Life is short. Pursue what you want.”