Meet Peter Kim

Peter Kim is honored to be a part of The Second City e.t.c. Born and raised in Flushing, Queens, Peter spent time in San Francisco founding EndGames Improv. In 2012 he moved to Chicago to write and perform with amazing ensembles such as The Second City Touring Company, Your F!@#$ed Up Relationship, and Slanted Door. His solo work is also featured at The Laugh Factory, Zanies, Paper Machete and RISK! podcast.

Our very own Logan Short was able to catch him between his busy schedule and get him to snarkily (we mean that in the best possible context) answer some questions. Enjoy!


Q: I first met you several years ago at the Underground Lounge in Chicago, a popular spot for new comics to test material or get in some improv reps. You’ve just been cast for Second City’s 40th E.T.C. revue. Congrats! What’s the journey been like between those two points?  Any juicy, painful details are welcome.

A: Thank you! The journey… well, as you can imagine it was pretty easy cuz I’m really good at comedy!!
I’m actually really bad at being funny. But I am good at being mean in a cute way, which is apparently resonating with the people in Chicago. I got to write and perform in a ton of great shows and even more horrible ones, and I got to do it with the best crop of the worst human beings in the world. Comedy is where all the monsters crawl out of their caves to commune.


1010984_10103559695668163_1101596010_nAs far as painful details – One day my improv team went to a Trampoline Gym for team bonding. We were playing trampoline dodgeball against a hardened crew of 6 year olds. The game started, I jumped and beamed the ball at a kid to assert my dominance. Completely missed, then crashed down on my ankle, spraining it and being out of commission the rest of that night and most of the winter.


Q: You’ve immersed yourself in a community of comics, obviously. How important to your growth has that collaboration and connection with comics been? Why can’t I excel at comedy with only the genius influence of my own brain?

A: You totally can! It’s just harder to do it alone. It’s easier when you have a crew of people who are funny and irreverent, that also got your back. I’m also a stand up so I’m on stage alone a lot, which I love, but when you’re doing improv and sketch work you need other people’s perspective. Also it’s nice to have funny friends you can brunch with.


Q: Do you ever write something, then say to yourself, “nah that’s garbage”? How do you make that decision? By yourself? Or do you let other people weigh in on an idea before you make any judgments about it?

11/2/15 9:50:31 PM -- Second City Green Touring Company Chucho Perez and Peter Kim . © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015
Second City Green Touring Company
Chucho Perez and Peter Kim © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

A: I trash my ideas all the time!  I’m trying to get better at not judging the material at its infancy and allowing any dumb, bad, corny, convoluted idea to spill onto the page. I have tons of notebooks filled with illegible scribbles that I will probably never read again, but that’s ok. Sometimes writing is therapeutic and that’s all it needs to be, so I’m trying to be kinder to myself about the process. Someone once told me that only 1 out of 10 things you write will be any good. So you gotta write a lot of garbage. I generally throw shit at the wall and see what sticks. Over the years, my doo doo’s gotten stickier, but I still have plenty of runny nonsense that hurts my butt.

Q: Do you tend to develop material from your personal life, social/political issues, or just whatever you think is funny? Why? As a comic, do you ever feel a responsibility to write from any of those places? As a comedian, how do you see your role in the bigger life picture?

11/2/15 9:40:27 PM -- Second City Green Touring Company Peter Kim & Jeff Murdoch © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015
11/2/15 9:40:27 PM — Second City Green Touring Company
Peter Kim & Jeff Murdoch
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

A: Wow, this is a tough question. Pass!

Shit, I guess this is an email interview, so I can’t do that. Hmm.. I tend to write stand up and sketch based on real life experiences. I’m not sure how to write otherwise. I am consumed by the idea of death. That quote from the musical Hamilton resonates with me: “I imagine death so much, it feels more like a memory”. So I try to counter that anxiety by living a big and interesting life and that tends to replenish the creative well. As for socio/political satire, I leave that to the intellectuals and readers of the group, thus the importance of ensemble work. I also enjoy the silly (love a good pratfall) but I tend to write about things that annoy me, and if that resonates with a larger group, then I consider it a nifty side effect. 6 years ago, when I started comedy, I felt a pressure to represent my sexuality and ethnicity and wrote a lot of garbage that were funny, but shallow and one dimensional. But what I’ve learned is that because I am those things, whatever I say, by default, becomes a representation anyway.


Comedians can be modern day philosophers, healers, magicians and straight up revolutionaries. I love Margaret Cho, obvi, and she tends to have a call to action at the end of her 1 hour specials. She’s like a preacher or a politician for the good guys. I’m obsessed with the idea of a nasty ass kween like me eventually dismantling the patriarchy.


Q: You were an intern for Jimmy Carrane’s Improv Nerd.  As an intern, you’re not directly working on your craft or showcasing any of your comedic skills. What significance does an experience like that (essentially non-creative) have on your development? Should comics get some experience working tech, the box office, bar-backing, etc?

1497231_10103484571637323_1852113049_nA: Artists of all kind should experience as much life as possible. I know that’s hard when you’re just starting out and grinding away at 9 million shows a week. But you don’t ACTUALLY get better until you start living a dope ass life. Your comedic voice is your unique reaction to the world, and you can’t react if you are not engaged. I feel bad for these young kids who skip college and have their parents pay for rent and classes while they do shows in their living rooms. What are you going to say on stage that is worth someone paying for? You can fake confidence and swag but you can’t fake perspective.


Q: The basic tenet of improv is, “Yes, and…”. It sort of preaches this idea of not only saying yes in scenes, but yes to different experiences. As many aspiring comedians know, however, it’s easy to get burnt out by saying yes to every project. How have you balanced that philosophy of saying “yes” and being selective of projects that help you reach your goals? Have you ever said no to anything? If so, why?

A: When I started comedy, I said “YES” to everything. And that was good. Because I did things I wasn’t quite ready for. You face your fears and realize that they are just fabricated by your hating ass brain. Also, it’s important to say “YES” because you have to fail. BIG. No one worth watching on stage approaches their work gently, or with a mouth guard. Comedy is brutal and you need to get your baby teeth smashed in, then new beautiful adult teeth will grow in its place. There’s really no way around it (unless you’re a Vine star I suppose).


Now, I say “NO” to things all the time because I don’t have much spare time. So whatever the gig is, it’s gotta be worth the time I take away from eating good ass food, making love to my boyfriend or eating good ass food off my boyfriend. What is a waste of my time? Things that are not challenging or a good paycheck. I’m a whore so I’ll pretty much do anything for money. But most things you are asked to do are free gigs. So you have to be choosy about what is worth your time. Trust your gut. If they’re gonna be butt hurt about you saying “NO” to their project, they ain’t worth working with anyway.


Q: Second City’s 40th E.T.C. revue. What’s the process like or going to be like? How do they pick sketches for the show? Who writes them? Tell us all you can about it!

11/2/15 10:33:37 PM -- Second City Green Touring Company Left to right: Peter Kim, Julia Weiss and Julie Marchiano . © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015
Second City Green Touring Company
Left to right: Peter Kim, Julia Weiss and Julie Marchiano © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

A: I imagine we will all write an abundance of material. The cast is stacked and as a feminist, (SIDEBAR: I hate that I still have to delineate that, I mean c’mon it’s 2016!! If you still cringe at the word “feminist” you should do humanity a favor and abstain from procreation) I couldn’t be happier that we have 4 women, me, and the straightest, whitest dude I’ve ever met (love you Scott!). We are just getting started with our process so there’s really not much to tell (sorry!) But, we have an experienced director (Matt Hovde) that I’ve worked with and trust so I’m confident that the revue will be beautiful, smart and provocative. I write a lot for stand up so I treasure the moments I can improvise and this new squad for the 40th e.t.c. revue is the best group to do that with.

Q: Aside from checking out the revue, is there anything you’d like to plug? What’s next for Peter Kim?

A: My roommate and best friend told me the other day that I need to step up my Instagram game. It hurt at first, but I knew she was right. Please throw me some likes @peterkz, which is also my twitter handle.


Right now I’m just concentrating on creating a revue that is NEXT LEVEL. After that’s opened and running, I guess I’ll figure out how to take Trump down. Once Bernie’s in office, and the world is right again, I’ll finally unfreeze my gym membership so I can get into Hollywood and start to dismantle that shit. (If you’re reading this and you are Hollywood, please disregard that last statement. I am all for white people bestowing awards upon each other! xoxo)

Thank you Peter Kim for that great interview!

Images provided by Peter Kim.
Interview done by Logan Short.

Want more Sketchpad Interviews?

Read Meet: Nick Vaterott, Andel Sudik or Jo Firestone.

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