JFL Toronto Review: Joel Kim Booster

Filed under: Reviews, Festivals

One of my favorite things about Toronto's Just for Laughs Festival is that some of the acts are really great at showing you how the sausage gets made. This is my favorite thing to see as a comic, and it happens when the festival books someone right after they've just released a special or an album.

Seriously, if you are starting stand up, you are mostly going to learn just from doing it. However, this is a rare opportunity to learn about structure, editing, and forming a relationship to the audience. This year, Joel Kim Booster brought us on the sausage-making journey. I am so genuinely thrilled that it's Joel, because he does crowd work in such a unique way.

George Carlin once said: "If you just do local sports jokes and references, and try to relate to the audience, they'll never remember you. Your job is to make them come on a journey of relating to you." (Obviously paraphrased.) Booster is constantly in a state of checking in with audience members, and seeing if the rest of the audience relates with that person, and seeing if they relate to him (Booster), or if he can relate to us.

What makes it so special is that Joel Kim Booster could not care less about telling us why he finds us unrelatable, as well as why he himself doesn't care if he's also unrelatable. Then a funny thing happens: we are forced to learn understanding (as Carlin would have wanted?) for Booster, but also for the rest of the audience. We learn so much more -- about each other and ourselves -- through the act of not passively trying to relate to each other but instead bringing ourselves to understanding each other.

Joel Kim Booster's show is funny, educational, weird, sweet, and cannot be missed.

Tags: Joel Kim Booster, JFL Toronto, Just for Laughs, stand-up, crowd work

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