Joel Kim Booster

20th September 2019

Joel Kim Booster is a writer and comedian. He’s written for “Billy on the Street,” “Problematic with Moshe Kasher” and Netflix’s “Big Mouth.” And as a standup, he’s appeared on Conan, Comedy Central’s “@Midnight” and more. These days he’s starring alongside Kal Penn in the brand new upcoming NBC sitcom “Sunnyside.” Joel joined Bullseye to talk about his unique upbringing, his approach to comedy and why Asian-American representation matters. Plus, Joel explains the science behind playing the “hot idiot.”

Episode notes

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Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for New York Magazine
Joel Kim Booster on comedy and acting
Joel Kim Booster is an actor, comedian and writer who has risen in the comedy scene in the last decade. His humor is satirical with a bold confidence that knows when vulnerability is preferred. Joel draws a lot of that vulnerability from his own upbringing. He’s Korean-American. He was adopted and raised by a white family in suburban Illinois. His upbringing was conservative and very, very religious.

Growing up home-schooled until the age of 16, Booster would say he lead a pretty sheltered life until young adulthood. It helped, at times, to shield him from some of the more insidious forms of bigotry that could befall a Korean-American gay kid living in a predominately white and abundantly evangelical Christian Midwestern town.

Joel’s written for Billy on the Street, Problematic with Moshe Kasher and Netflix’s Big Mouth. And as a standup, he’s appeared on Conan, Comedy Central’s @Midnight and more. These days he’s starring alongside Kal Penn in the brand new upcoming NBC sitcom Sunnyside.

Joel talks to Bullseye about his experience growing up in an evangelical household, life lessons through the lens of The Backstreet Boys and how doing stand-up allowed him to find his own lane in comedy. And then challenge it! Plus, he talks about how a changing comedy scene is making room at the table for Asian comics like new Saturday Night Live cast member Bowen Yang.

Put the kids to bed and pick up Joel’s album Model Minority here. It’s really good.

You can catch him on Sunnyside later this month on NBC.

This interview originally aired in September of 2018.

In this episode...

Associate Producer
Associate Producer


  • Joel Kim Booster

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

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