“Big Mouth” pushes the envelope in the most absurdly wonderful ways but not every idea makes it to Netflix screens. Just ask Joel Kim Booster.
Booster (“Fire Island”) served as a voice actor, producer and writer on the Emmy-winning animated series. Speaking to ET Canada at JBL Fest in Las Vegas, Booster shares one “Big Mouth” idea that was too ambitious for the show’s budget and deadline.
“We had a really incredible sequence basically detailing what a period looks like from the inside and, specifically, a tribe of eggs that lives inside a woman and what that tribe looks like and what happens to a tribe member every month,” Booster says.
“There was a really, really incredible sequence and we just didn’t have time and we didn’t have the money to animate it right.”
Booster describes the adult animated coming-of-age series as one of the most invigorating settings he has worked in.
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“It’s one of my favorite working environments I’ve ever worked in because we start out the year, basically, mining our own experiences,” Booster says from inside Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. “We sort of are talking about whatever stage of life the kids are in on the show. We just go back to that time in our own lives and dig deep and figure out what the theme would actually be.
“We start off with the real stuff. We start off with what actual kids are dealing with and whatever the theme we can figure out from that is. We take it and then we build the comedy on top of that. Once we have the scripts written and everything, that’s when it really gets into pitching absurd jokes and pitching absurd scenarios and things like that. But at the beginning, it’s really just about all of us talking about what it was like to grow up and all the f**ked up s**t that happens when you’re going through puberty.”
Booster has found success in just about every pocket of Hollywood: an actor, stand-up comedian, producer and writer. The “Fire Island” star details how he manages to shift from one role to the next, sometimes on the same project.
“You just have to learn how to compartmentalize,” Booster says. “With ‘Fire Island’ specifically, it was a challenge because I was wearing a lot of different hats on that set. You just have to learn to separate it. When I was on camera, I was an actor and I wanted to be treated like an actor.
“When I was putting my producer hat on, that’s what I was doing. It was just trying not to wear all the hats at once and and separate when I needed to be concerned about the budget versus when I needed to be concerned about learning my lines for whatever scene I was just about to shoot.”
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Booster’s openness on subject matters such as being gay and having bipolar disorder have translated into a status as a role model or advocate. His 2022 standup special “Joel Kim Booster: Psychosexual” deconstructed and reconstructed the pressure of public identity.
“I think it’s just about demanding a broader swath of representation,” he says. “Asking for more instead of just expecting everything to come from one person. We’re all human beings. I feel like a pretty normal person in my everyday life. I would like to hold on to that sense of normalcy. If I focus too much on trying to act in a way that I think other people need me to act for it to be a good role model, I will go crazy.
“I understand the need and I understand the desire for good role models, but I think it’s about when you see someone who’s not maybe living up to that, it’s not about tearing that person down. It’s about turning your attention to any number of other people that could fill that slot.”
Taking a moment away from the spotlight to be a fan, Booster gushes over his enthusiasm for seeing Doja Cat perform.
“Doja was my artist of the year last year,” Booster says. “It’s so great to be able to see her. I’m so pumped. ‘Kiss Me More’ is still the song of the summer. It’s not even summer. It was last summer. It doesn’t matter. It’s always forever in my heart.”