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Joel Kim Booster on Boystown and Being Less Universal

The comic, whose first album is released today, explores Korean, queer, and American identities.

Photo: Mindy Tucker

Adopted by white evangelical parents and raised in Plainfield, Joel Kim Booster likes to joke that he knew he was gay before he knew he was Asian. Much of Booster’s blistering comedy explores his intersecting Korean, queer, and American identities. The 29-year-old comic, who moved to New York in 2013, weaves those threads into his first comedy album, Model Minority, out November 3.

On owning his identity

I’ve had so many straight white guys tell me, “Be more universal!” Whenever I get that advice, I do the reverse. It just makes me want to say what I’m saying louder.

On Chicago’s comedy scene

Chicago is a great place to fuck up. People here watch and they pay attention. They won’t hesitate to tell you how you could do something better.

On coming of age in Boystown

Every night felt like a weird adventure. The nightclub Berlin is the only place where I’ve ever felt like I could get blackout drunk in public and a whole community of people would make sure I got home safely. It’s the most magical place to learn how to be gay.

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