After more than decade in the industry, Joel Kim Booster is becoming a name to know. In 2022 alone, the gay comedian has a Netflix special, Hulu movie, and is now coming to Atlanta to showcase brand new material at the Red Clay Comedy Festival.
The Red Clay Comedy Festival, happening November 10 through 13, takes over East Atlanta Village with comedy, specialty shows, live podcasts, after parties, and more. Booster will be performing on Sunday, November 13 at Variety Playhouse.
Those familiar with Booster are likely also familiar with “Psychosexual,” his comedy special exploring his experiences and observations as a gay Asian America that’s currently streaming on Netflix. While Booster said the two sets will share similarities, his new material marks a shift away from the identity-focused comedy of “Psychosexual.”
“I write in a pretty distinct voice that will be similar to what people saw in the Netflix special. But this is a whole new hour, it’s all new,” he told Georgia Voice. “[My comedy] is less identity-focused than it was in the special. If you see the evolution of my very first special on Comedy Central to my Netflix special to now, I just think I’ve hit all those beats. There are only so many times I can talk about what it’s like to be my identity… This is the first time in my career that I’ve been writing jokes as someone in a relationship, so there’s plenty of stuff dealing with my relationship. A little bit dealing with my family — some of it is about grief and grieving, and that’s new territory for me as well.”
Or maybe you recognize Booster from “Fire Island,” the Hulu original rom com he wrote and stars in alongside other LGBTQ comedians and actors Bowen Yang, Margaret Cho, James Scully, Conrad Ricamora, Matt Rogers, and Tomas Matos. A far gayer spin on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the hilarious and heartfelt story follows a group of friends who vacation on Fire Island and navigate classism, sex, and maybe even some romance.
“[Filming ‘Fire Island’] was one of the best experiences of my life artistically,” Booster said. “I got to make a movie with my best friends in one of my favorite places in the world. It was really exciting, and I’m really proud and happy with how it turned out.”
All in all, this year has been huge for Booster – but it took him more than a decade of work to achieve the success he has. He credits his success to dedication and persistence and says that the entertainment industry is hard on everyone, let alone gay Asian-American comedians like him.
“It’s hard to gauge if it was more difficult than anyone else’s experience in this industry, I can only speak to mine,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, I think it takes a lot of perseverance to make it in the entertainment industry no matter who you are.”
“For me specifically, I think it was about overcoming a lot of preconceived notions people have about who I am as a person because of those two identities [gay and Asian-American],” he continued. “It was about overcoming those predetermined expectations and really fighting back against those – and showing up! I’ve heard way more ‘nos’ than I’ve heard ‘yeses’ in my career, and if I had listened to those ‘nos,’ I never would’ve gotten up as many times as I did. It was just about waiting for the ‘yeses’ to come. It takes a long time. For me, it took almost a decade for things to really start to cook for me. It’s a waiting game, it’s about always showing up with your best work and putting in the work to turn people on to what you’re doing.”
And show up he has. Booster says he’s excited to show off his new material, especially in Atlanta.
“I’ve only just started doing headlining shows again since my special came out, I only just now have the material to do it,” he said. “I’m excited to work on this material with audiences I love, especially audiences like Atlanta audiences. There’s no one quite like them.”
You can buy tickets to see Booster perform on November 13 at 9:30pm at Variety Playhouse at redclaycomedy.com.