Joel Kim Booster

"You take the good, you take the bad."

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Joel Kim Booster

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Joel Kim Booster is a Los Angeles based comedian and writer whose electrifying stand up sets glue your eyes to the stage no matter what he is talking about. He has been featured on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Conan, Comedy Central, and was recently cast on a new show by Mike Schur, who helped bring us The Office, Parks and Recreation and The Good Place, called Sunnyside. He has also written for the wildly popular Big Mouth on Netflix, Billy On The Street, and others. Although with his busy schedule I was not able to talk on the phone with Joel, it was fantastic to chat with him over email and I am so glad that he could be the first comic for the Mildy Amusing “Email Edition.” This will be a separate article style for comics that answered my questions via email here and there when they were able, and then published all together as one questionnaire.

 

Instead of focusing on your most difficult and obnoxious experience with a heckler, do you have a favorite heckler story? 

I’ve been very lucky that in my time doing stand-up, every heckler I’ve experienced has been in the midst of a crowd that was otherwise completely on my side. It’s one thing to deal with a heckler who essentially voicing what the rest of the audience is thinking (“You suck”) but it’s an entirely different experience when you’re killing and one drunk/angry/stupid person wants to try and get in the way of that. I’m a comedian who does a lot of crowd work, so talking to people in the audience has always been a big part of what I do. In terms of memorable heckler moments, I had a woman, after doing a joke where I explain that my older brother is also gay, scream out that we “wouldn’t have been gay” had our mother breast fed us. She was both drunk and insane, and she actually inspired a joke I have on my first album, but in reality I spent roughly twenty minutes grilling her on her worldview and it was one of the best “lemons to lemonade” experiences I’ve ever had. Recently in Vancouver I had a couple of guys get aggressive (throwing things at me from their table) and otherwise being disruptive, and again it was a situation where the rest of the crowd was having a good time so I felt pretty emboldened with them. Eventually they got physically aggressive enough that management told them to leave and they refused. Now this situation was officially out of my hands, it’s no longer fruitful to try and mine any jokes out of talking to them, but I also didn’t want to try and do material while this entire scene was going on, so I did the first thing that came to mind: I brought up a bunch of different audience members and made them justify what they were wearing and perform different challenges for my amusement until the hecklers finally left.

 

If your life was a sandwich, what would it be made out of, and would you eat it?

It would be bao on the outside and the inside would be a hot dog and no I absolutely would not eat it.

 

 Is there a secret hobby you have that not very many people know about? 

I’m fairly open about everything I do, and Instagram has made it possible for everyone to pretty much be aware of every activity I engage in… But not many people may know that I’m a huge comic book nerd, which certainly isn’t really a revelation these days. But I grew up reading them and I own thousands of mostly DC comics.

 

Assuming that sometime during our lifetimes we are visited by aliens, what would be the first joke you would tell them?

There’s an LA comedian I recently met who will blow up any day now named Katrina Davis, and she has a joke about the Vlasic Stork that I consider the perfect joke. I won’t try to retell it here, but someday when you see her Netflix special and you hear the joke, remember I told you.

 

 Is there a project you have done that you’re proud of and wished more people knew about, but for one reason or the other has flown under the radar?

I sold and developed a pilot to Comedy Central a few years ago that didn’t end up getting picked up. It was sort of an unorthodox development deal (they had me write five additional episodes on top of the pilot). It was my first foray into that process and I’m obviously very bummed that no one will get to see the pilot or the show. I did do a live reading of the script for a podcast called The Dead Pilot Society.

 

Some comedians see “making it” as getting a spot on Late Night, others, landing a big role on a series or movie, still others need to become multimillionaires before they feel satisfied. Where do you land on that spectrum or is the whole idea of “making it” purely relative. 

I think this is a pretty common problem among comedians, but for me I’m not sure I’ll ever reach that goal because I keep moving the goalposts. For so many years when I was grinding it out at open mics in New York I told myself that all I wanted to do was support myself, pay all my bills with comedy. Well that came and went. It was the same with doing a TV spot, having a special, selling a show— a big thing right now is that I want to sell another show but I know myself well enough at this point to know that once that does happen I will immediately find a way to be unsatisfied. It’s a double edged sword. I’ve always worked really hard and pushed myself and I’m glad that I refuse to settle for whatever my current status quo is, but I’m also deeply unhappy all the time, so! You take the good, you take the bad.

Where do you think comedians will fall in a more technologically advanced future? Will they become obsolete, or is comedy one of the few untouchable abilities that even the smartest computer system will never be able to truly gain.

Wild Question. I think until AI becomes fully sentient I’m not sure the machines could ever fully replace human comedians because, for me at least, a big part of comedy and what makes it work is the surprise element. Part of what makes a joke work is that the set up is familiar enough that the audience understands the context of the joke, but the punchline is surprising enough that they’re caught off guard. It’s why hacky jokes that rely on very old ideas or stereotypes about, let’s say women, don’t seem to be working as much. I think a lot of comedians like to blame that on “PC Culture” and I’m sure that’s a part of it, but for me when I’m watching a comedian do the same “women be shopping” bit that’s been done for decades and decades, I don’t laugh because I know where the joke is going! All this to say: Robots will only ever be able to write jokes that rely on novelty— isn’t it funny that this robot wrote a knock knock joke? But the surprise of the joke won’t be there.

 

Is there one thing you would warn your younger self, or another aspiring comedian about being on stage, crowd work, or show business in general?

A couple things: Don’t compare yourself or weigh your success against your peers. Find and develop real friendships with people who make you laugh and vice versa. There is no “right” way to do this, or find success. I was obsessed with doing things “the right” way for so much of my early career. Everybody will have opinions about how much stage time you should get, how many mics you should be doing every day, which mics to do, what clubs you’re ready for, what rooms you’re not ready for, etc. etc. It’s all bullsh*t. There is no right way to make this work, everything happens nearly by accident. All you can do is be prepared when the right person is in the right room during the right set. Also, sleep. Take care of your body. Drink more water. It takes some people close to two decades to break in, you wanna look like sh*t when that happens?

 

Finally, in a world where laughter didn’t exist, what would you be doing? 

Having twice as much sex as I do now.

 

 

Contact Joel on his website at: http://www.ihatejoelkim.com

And keep up with him on…

Twitter and Instagram: @ihatejoelkim