Comedian Bobby Lee – Back in 1994, 23-year-old Bobby Lee lost his job when the coffee shop he was working at in his hometown of San Diego closed down. He decided to get another job at the place that was immediately next door to the shop. That place happened to be the local branch of the legendary Comedy Store club.
“I decided to go into comedy because I couldn’t get laid; women hated me, so I thought if I went into comedy, I could get girls,” said Lee during a recent phone interview. “But when I started doing stand-up at open mic nights at the Comedy Store, things shifted for me. I realized I was getting better at it, and that I could make a living telling jokes.”
Lee also auditioned for a spot on Just For Laughs’ important New Faces showcase nearly 20 years ago, but an invitation to join the cast of the popular sketch comedy series “MADtv” in 2001 put those New Faces plans on hold. During his nine-year stay with the show, Lee built a following with his repertoire of characters such as hapless interpreter Bae Sung, talk show host “Johnny” Gan, the Blind Kung Fu Master, and dead-on impersonations of Connie Chung and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. And when he is not doing stand-up, he appears on his own video podcast with his girlfriend Khalyla Kuhn, called “Tigerbelly”, which has over 280,000 subscribers.
Comedian Bobby Lee at the Nasty Show
And next week, Lee finally makes his festival debut nearly 20 years after his New Faces audition, but this time as host of the mega-popular Nasty Show, which runs from July 17 to 27 at the MTelus theatre.
“I do my comedy the way I do it. I don’t what I do is actually nasty, and I don’t know what the difference is between clean and nasty comedy,” he admits. “I see my material as based on truth, and the human experience involved when bad things happened to my family such as my dad being an alcoholic, violent episodes in my family, and when I became a drug addict at the age of 12 and my road to sobriety.”
“Facing my addictions gave me the chance to become real, pick myself up and reinvent myself; it’s like a new chapter in my career,” he added. “There are three or four topics that I usually touch on when I do stand-up, such as sexual-related material, being Korean and relationships. But I do it my own way and as a result, I am more like myself than I ever have been.”
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