By Andrew Hamlin
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Julie Kim grew up in Toronto, and learned culture from a Korean-Canadian point of view.
Two of her main influences, though, turned out to be stuff most American kids can relate to as well—comedy and candy.
“Most of my earliest memories are in the convenience store operated by my parents. We lived and played in our upstairs apartment and in the store as if it was one place,” remembered Kim, who plays a set at the Here-After comedy club inside the Crocodile in Belltown, on Dec. 1.
“I remember loving sugar. I stole candy bars and cans of pop (which you Americans call soda). All of my front top teeth were removed long before my adult teeth were ready. I had a speech impediment for a while and I spit when I talked.”
The speech impediment slipped away as her adult teeth came in. But she paid close attention to the family television, always with an emphasis on the funny stuff.
“My parents were always working, so my siblings and I watched TV all the time. Cartoons, sitcoms (with content that was not suitable for small children), SNL…anything funny. Mainly because other things like dramas and mysteries scared me. They were also less visually appealing, usually dark and somber. I gravitated toward the light, and also it was more age appropriate.
“I grew up watching comics like Seinfeld and Robin Williams, and the intelligence that came through in their comedy told me that stand up was done well by smart people. I’ve always been open to changing, and so my influences change. I’m Ronny Chieng’s number one fan. Atsuko Okatsuka is a delightful killer. I love how fierce and fearless Ali Wong delivers everything.”
Her professional career dates to 12 years ago, when she studied standup in Toronto. She’d always been funny, but paying for the class motivated her to study humor seriously.
“I remember doing my first standup set at our class recital. I had cold sweats and could think of nothing else for the days leading up to it. Then I forgot one of my jokes. What a mess! It’s all continued to be a beautiful and enjoyable mess.
“The first year was full of flops! I did open mics and small local shows all over Toronto, multiple times a week. Sometimes there were six audience members, and they were all other comics on the show. The main lesson I learned was to just keep performing. That’s all I’m doing even now!”
She’s also hung out a shingle as a TV scriptwriter, working on “The Debaters,” “Laugh Out Loud,” “Run the Burbs,” and other shows.
“I didn’t pursue it strongly until a year into the pandemic when I wanted to find other ways to be creative in funny ways to broaden my skill set and pursue new goals,” she explained.
“I love to write funny things. I love funny conversations. I feel like the happiest and most fortunate person in the world when I’m writing. Whereas I write in my own voice for stand-up, writing for TV and movies have me immersed in other worlds and people. I love both.”
Her current comedy tour takes her to Los Angeles, Brea outside of Los Angeles, San Jose, Whistler in British Columbia, and hopefully, some international gigs early in 2023.
Asked about the essential difference between her country and the United States, she had a fast and ready answer.
“Donald Trump. Or as my kid calls him, Donald Shrimp. She’s not making fun of his name. She thinks that is his name.”
For more information about Julie Kim’s set at the Here-After inside the Crocodile, visit juliekimcomedy.com/shows.
Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.