Koreatown Los Angeles wasn’t always a nightlife hot spot for all Angelinos, but in recent years, the largely homogeneous population of soju drinkers has experienced a big and wonderful change, non-Koreans have joined the fray. While I won’t sit here and say that this is what pushed the Kings of KTown to come together after each having put in over 15 years into the stand up comedy game, I will say that the community is now ready for their live, onstage antics and of course, an accompanying DVD special. In fact, I would say this town is screaming for it. Walter Hong (@yellowsheki), Paul “PK” Kim (@ChannelPKtown) and Danny Cho (@dannycho) have been bringing laughter to millions… err…. hundreds of thousands? But really, their journey is only just beginning. I had the pleasure of sitting with them last week to talk about Kings of KTown and what this show really means for each of them.
Walter started comedy as a hobby in 1996. His first stint ended up being a short, 2-event affair. Fast forward 2 years later and he returned to the stage for what would be a year and a half, after which he once again hung up his hat, this time, to start writing scripts. Though he did do stand up from time to time to keep his writing game sharp, he didn’t see it as a career. Then, 4 years ago, he started up again full time. What changed? “I allowed myself to realize that this was something I wanted to do,” says Walter of his triumphant return to the ring. Currently, Walter works as a radio personality for YTN FM 100.3 HD2 s as a host for Sneakers and Stilettos which caters to the greater Los Angeles area.
Paul, or PK, as most KTown denizens know him, got his start in the spotlight by founding the biggest regional talent show with roots in Koreatown, Kollaboration. While hosting, he would try different jokes between acts and in 2006, he made his first official debut on the stand up scene and has been doing it ever since, even while juggling his responsibility of raising 3 children. When I asked him how that was, all he said was, “Hard. This show is very important to me. Very, very important. I gotta make money.”
Danny did his first open mic in the summer of 2000. He started working at the Laugh Factory after giving up a six-figure job as a business consultant at a Big 4 accounting firm and did his first show at the Laugh Factory in 2003. Interesting fact: PK was the one that convinced him to do it. Since then, he has continued to do stand up and also flexed his writing muscle creating the well-received web show KTown Cowboys which has since been followed up by a feature film.
So what’s it like for an Asian stand up comic? Pretty horrible. While the Black and Hispanic communities view nights out at comedy clubs as an important part of their weekly routine, that simply isn’t the case for Asians. These communities have built in audiences that will include regulars that attend shows without prompting on a weekly basis. This isn’t true for the Asian community which, for the most part, has grown up sheltered and shuttered from the world around them being force fed algebra and trigonometry from elementary school so I could go to a good high school…. errr…. Sad childhoods aside, Walter reiterated that, “the cool thing about doing Kings of KTown with these guys is that we don’t get a lot of opportunities to perform with each other. If there’s another Asian guy in a comedy line up, no one will put in another one. Even on Asian nights, one will be forced to host and another might have a real set.”
This isn’t the first time the three have performed together, but the shows were few and short-lived. The trio along with two others did have a stand up show, but after the two dropped out to join the rat race, the team fell apart. So what made them join together after all these years to try it again? PK broke it down during our talk, “There isn’t anyone else in KTown that is stepping up.” Aside from that, the timing was right.
So the crew started a FanBacked page which can be found if you click here. Their goal is to raise enough money to not only produce their film, but also have funds for what will hopefully turn into a tour. Only if you help! Every penny helps and they are really looking for a lot of support. I asked the comics if they had any thoughts about mobilizing the Korean American community and for the most part, they say it’s a real struggle. The number one comment that they hear vicariously through friends and family is that they would give support “If they were good.” Ironically, after every show, dozens of folks come up to speak to them and all of them say that they had an awesome time. PK added, “I’ve had many people come up to me after shows or events that I’ve MC’ed and told me that ‘I should be doing this professionally.’ What the fuck do they think I’m doing?!”
So what’s the takeaway here? I think Danny said it best: “We’re fucking funny too.”
For all those interested, the show is going to be on July 2nd. You will need to stand in line to get tickets and max cap it set at roughly 300 people so make sure you get out there early to get your paws on some premium seats. Aside from that, Walter, PK and Danny are all calling in favors they’ve done for others by plugging events for acquaintances. So, do the right thing, read the piece and make sure you share it with all your friends by utilizing the share buttons on this post. It is literally made so you can share with two clicks. Other than that, we’ll see you all on the 2nd for an epic night of comedy.