Joel Kim Booster on his comedic style and new Comedy Central stand-up special

Unless you frequent Brooklyn comedy venues like Union Hall, or happen to follow him on Twitter, you’re not likely to be familiar with Joel Kim Booster — and that’s your loss.

Booster has acquired a following over the past four years with his sharp, observational stand-up and absurd pop culture jokes on social media.

Now, the Kings County-based comic is getting his first half-hour special, and he’s ready to introduce the world to his entirely original point of view.

Before “Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents … Joel Kim Booster” drops this Friday at midnight, Booster tells amNewYork about his comedic style and what direction he wants to take his stand-up going forward.


This is your first special — what should we expect?

My comedy is largely autobiographical. I start from a personal experience and build out as absurdly as possible from there, stacking absurd observations and punchlines on top of truth about my life. I think it started as a way to sort of process trauma and then has turned out into a career.


What autobiographical experiences influenced your comedy?

A lot of my material, especially my early material, sort of deals with identity in a big way. That word is so loaded now in a political way that I hesitate to use it to describe my comedy, but I’m an odd bird in that I’m an Asian person who grew up in a white family, because I was adopted, and I happen to be gay and my parents were deeply religious. So, there’s a lot of layers to me as a person that make up who I am as a comedian. A lot of my special is sort of unpacking the nesting Russian doll that is who I am—I have a lot of baggage that I’m carrying around and it’s all great fodder for comedy.


How do you balance the personal pain with the comedy?

I don’t want the sympathy, I want the laughter and I don’t want to go for low hanging fruits. It’s so hard for me because Asian people and gay people have been the punchlines of so many jokes since comedy has existed in Western culture. There’s probably no joke I haven’t heard come out of the mouth of another eighth grader and I’m always trying to subvert those expectations. I still want to surprise people.


Your comedic voice on Twitter is just as funny as your stand-up, but in a completely different way — it’s much less about your life.

I feel more freedom comedically on Twitter. There’s so much context you have to set up on stage. Whereas on Twitter you’re curating an audience that already has all the same context and reference points as you do and there’s not as much labor in it. I can shoot off a tweet about Ann Down and Margo Martindale and my audience on Twitter likes it, but the people who didn’t like it or have no idea what I’m talking about scroll right on by. I would love if my stand-up could just be me standing on stage talking about the silly-ass stuff.


Are you going to go in a sillier direction with your new material?

Between the special and my upcoming album it really is almost a culmination of the seven years I’ve been writing since I started stand-up. And now that I’m going back on the road working on new material I’ve found myself going to those more absurd places, and less personal places. I think it’s sort of the natural evolution of my comedy, my life and my career. I’ve laid the groundwork, explaining who I am and where I’m coming from, so now I’m excited for the next phase of my career where I’m making fun of famous character actresses from the Midwest.

If you go The comedian will be performing during the New York Comedy Festival with Josh Johnson at 7 p.m., Nov. 7, at the New York Comedy Club, 241 E. 24th St., newyorkcomedyclub.com, $22

More from around NYC