Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) on Oversharing and Performing Characters Online
Joel Kim Booster is a Chicago-bred, Brooklyn-based comedian and writer. He hosts Fuck That Movie at Videology in Williamsburg the second Friday of every month and is currently writing on the upcoming season of Billy on the Street for TruTV. His standup has been featured on Logo and Comedy Central’s upcoming 7 Minutes in Purgatory. He performs live all over the country, most frequently in some of Brooklyn’s most prestigious basements. This week we spoke about three of his favorite tweets plus tweets without a point of view, performing characters online, and the double exclamation point.
I hope we get an all-female "Three Men and a Baby" and none of them are sure whose baby it is, and it makes no sense and everyone is mad.
— Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) January 27, 2015
JKB: God bless this stupid tweet. I think one of the most important things you have to do on Twitter is tweet the dumbest, most absurd things possible. It’s especially important to me as a response to internet outrage, even better if the outrage is intrinsically stupid. This tweet is my favorite because it has literally no point of view, because it makes absolutely no sense! It doesn’t take any explicit “side,” which is important to me. Someone who was butt hurt about the Ghostbusters remake tried to come for me over this tweet and I was like, “whoa whoa, dude. This doesn’t have anything to do with Ghostbusters. It has everything to do with with three women who can’t remember if they had a baby or not.” Unfortunately this tweet continues to be relevant today, because people continue to be mad.
Re: taking sides! Do you try not to do that online in general or was that more specific to this tweet?
I think the internet, especially Twitter, generally tends to devolve into one big circle jerk after a while (like an hour, most days), so I try to do something a little bit more nebulous than take a side. I usually prefer to look at all the takes and try to write a joke using the most common responses as the structure. That being said, if you know me, you know I’m a pretty progressive dude — I don’t hide that — so the “side” I’m taking can pretty easily be inferred. If it looks like I’m earnestly defending Ted Cruz, it’s probably because I live for some light trolling.
Do you ever answer strangers’ replies to your tweets, and if so do you have a favorite interaction you’ve had?
Generally speaking, no. I find arguing with strangers on the internet so deeply pointless. There’s no context there! Why would I waste my time trying to explain some nuanced point about cultural appropriation to someone who may or may not be an idiot? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I especially hate performing an argument online, which is what most Twitter arguments become. “Look how smart I am, I’m schooling this preteen on the history of the Reagan administration! haHA I won, buy my book!” It’s never about an actual conversation, and that’s pretty gross to me. In the grand tradition of being an unrepentant hypocrite, I did once engage with an insane Katy Perry fan after Katy did some ill-advised Geisha performance, but once I realized what I had done I tried to play it off like some bizarre performance piece.
Would LOVE to go to the special place in hell where they put all the women who didn't support other women— I would stir up some DRAMA henny.
— Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) February 22, 2016
I love being gay. I do. I truly love being a real live gay person with complicated, nuanced thoughts and feelings, but more than anything I really love being this big dumb gay character who doesn’t actually exist, but is somehow immediately recognizable because the media is the devil and straight people are stupid. I love thinking about this imaginary gay who is aware enough to know Madeline Albright’s now infamous quote about feminism, but who is so obsessed with the Real Housewives that he misses the point entirely. I mean I guess that person does exist and that person is me. I don’t really think straight people are stupid, I regret saying that. I’ll tell you what I really think of straight people offline. ;)
Are there other characters or traits you like exploring on Twitter? Are they the same ones you like exploring in longer pieces and performance?
I am pretty consistently being me, or being a slightly dumber version of me. Occasionally I worry that maybe the difference isn’t quite as stark as I’d like, because I tend to hemorrhage followers if I’m being particularly subtle in my, uh, irony. On the rare occasion I do character work in real life, it tends to be draped in pretty specific references—I do a character that is a Libertarian Wiccan Party Planner and a Ghost Who Just Happens to be Gay, and the jokes there, I’ll be the first to admit, are basically just right there in the name.
How similar is your voice on Twitter to your voice when you’re performing, and how similar are both those to your real voice?
Pretty similar in tone, but wildly different in content I’d say. About 90% of my most successful tweets are completely unusable when I do standup. I try to balance a sense of self deprecation with an arch sense of humor in both arenas. I think it’s way easier to do the whole, “Ack, aren’t I pathetic, but also I’m way better than each and every one of you” schtick on stage in the span of a fifteen minute set than it is in little bursts on Twitter. Most people aren’t seeing all of your tweets so depending on the time of day I either look suicidal or a monster with a liberal arts degree. Ultimately the one constant cross-over is the importance I place on the double exclamation point. Nothing sets the tone better than a frantic scream!!
The worst part about dating is spending your day desperately trying to force all the farts out of your body before dinner.
— Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) January 8, 2016
Truly, this probably sums up most of my content on Twitter pretty well. A lot of it is either about dating, or it’s what I refer to as “coffee cup comedy.” This one is both! Coffee cup comedy: It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it seems like the kind of thing your aunt might see on a mug at the Strand and say, “Oh, I have to get this for Jenny.” The dating stuff is pretty run of the mill. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’re plenty familiar with my years-long quest for a functional relationship. I don’t really have to write too much on top of it. Last summer I matched on Tinder with the twin brother of a guy who had ghosted me a few weeks prior, and how do you really write a joke about that? You just tell people on Twitter you’re about to revenge fuck a twin like you’re the villain from some 90s sexual thriller. It’s fun. Anyway, I get nervous gas, is the point.
Are there personal subjects that you’re hesitant about sharing on Twitter?
Not really, no. I’m a classic oversharer. I sometimes feel a bit cheap, because a lot of my humor is derived just from the sheer audacity that I would talk about lovingly giving a guy a blowjob while a Padma Lakshmi interview plays softly in the background. I mean if it’s true and invasive and is that kind of lovely referential word salad poetry, I want to write about it. I try to keep those kinds of overshares pretty specific to me though. I’m dating a very nice boy right now who happens to follow me on Twitter, so I try to be as respectful as possible so he doesn’t flee. I guess I’m learning those boundaries a bit. But who knows what I’d say if he didn’t know that I was a social media personality!! [Quick note: After Joel wrote this, the nice boy broke up with him in Central Park, presumably for reasons unrelated to this paragraph. He is now free to tweet about whatever he wants.]
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny Or Die.