By Ryan Meehan
Esther Ku is a comedian, actress and musician but mostly comedian because that’s what she told me to write first. I am her stenographer. (Not really, but she wants you to think she has a stenographer because she doesn’t want you to think she wrote her own bio.) Ku can be seen as a series regular on MTV’s new female-driven comedy series GIRLCODE on Tuesday nights at 10:30/9:30c. GirlCode is the sister show of MTV2’s hit show GUYCODE. She can currently be seen in a national Office Depot ad and an international Volkswagen television commercial. Ku was selected as a finalist in NBC’s Last Comic Standing Season 6. She was also selected by Howard Stern as a finalist in the Hottest Funniest Chick Contest on Sirius Satellite Radio. She has performed in the hit comedy Shear Madness, the longest-running non-musical play in American theatre history. Ku spends her days rewriting lyrics to her favorite oldies songs and is excited to share her first comedy music album Oldies Parodies on iTunes. On her spare time, she manages to dedicate her energy to a serious and troublesome cause — to end tickling forever. “Tickling is forcing someone to laugh when you’re not being funny. Tickling is the opposite of comedy. If you’ve ever tickled anyone, you’re a fraud!” she warns. Ku’s muses include Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon and Amelia Bedelia from the Amelia Bedelia Collection. (That italicizing will cost you extra little Ms. Ku. This is bullshit.) Ku was born in Chicago and was improperly raised in the neighborhood called Rogers Park. She officially began stand-up in Boston when she got a job as a traveling pen sales representative. For a hot second the team Ku and the Jew ruled the club — until they were fired by the bartender. She now resides in Brooklyn and travels the world entertaining audiences with her bratty charm and infamous maniacal laugh. (She told me to write adorable but I secretly changed it to maniacal because it’s a more accurate description of that shrieking noise. Geez when did she get so delusional?) You can catch Esther on the road and every Tuesday night on GirlCode, and she’s our guest today in 5 questions.
RM: How did you get your start doing comedy and what were your first few gigs like? Was it something that you were a natural at right out of the box, or did you know from pretty early on that you were going to have to work exceptionally hard at to perfect your act?
EK: I wrote for my high school newspaper and my classmates always came up to me and told me they read my articles first because they were funny. And when you’re in high school and someone tells you you’re funny, you think – I’m going to be a comedian! So I decided to take an adult education class on stand-up comedy because I didn’t know how else to find the open mikes. I started out in the open mike scene in Boston. I think at first, I was trying too hard to be a comedian and create a character on stage. Then I slowly started becoming myself more on stage and just let my natural abilities take over.
RM: You were one of the first comics eliminated on season six of Last Comic Standing…Did that experience teach you anything about how television works, or do you feel like you are learning more about the business doing “Girl Code”?
EK: Everything is a learning experience. I wanted to be eliminated because I didn’t have any more material to last me more rounds! So I guess when you really want something badly, you get it. The best thing about Girl Code is that I’m finally getting to connect with the female audience. I’ve always geared my material to femme power so it’s so great to have that outlet on MTV now.
RM: I absolutely love the section on your website where you have the different bios for the different audiences. I’ve been doing this for a while now and I’ve really never seen anything like that…Have you ever had a booker or an agent mention that you got work specifically because of the way those four bios were written?
EK: Well those bios are meant as a joke but some people believe all of them to be true.
RM: How did you come to be involved with the “Girl Code” and how do the comedians and writers decide on which topics to discuss that week? Why do you think that show has resonated so well with both female and male viewers?
EK: I simply went to an audition at the MTV headquarters last year. When I got there, three girls who looked like they had just graduated college auditioned me. I was like, there’s no adults here? Awesome! They have a staff of female comedians who brainstorm the topics and questions to ask us way before we even get in front of the camera. But we write and come up with our own material. The show’s been doing so well because we speak the truth. We speak from our real experiences. And they let us write our own material. It’s not like there’s some guy in Hollywood who’s imagining what girls our age are thinking. We get to come up with our own answers. So when you have really authentic answers, you get a real following.
RM: Could you ever see yourself doing another “Parodies” record? Is getting the legal clearance to do the songs on one of those a big hassle or is it relatively manageable?
EK: I am always coming up with parodies when I listen to the Oldies station. So I’m sure there will be more coming. And the best thing about parodying Oldies is that most of the original artists aren’t around anymore so it makes asking for clearance a lot easier!
RM: How much crowd work do you usually do at one of your standup slots? Bonus Question – Do you consider the word “Slots” to be misogynistic and if so why?
EK: I love doing crowd work and I like to do a lot of it. Comedy shows are full of couples and couples are a great source of material. I don’t find slots to be offensive unless someone with a thick accent says it and ends up sounding more like sluts.
RM: What’s the one thing in the entertainment industry that you have not yet done that you’d like to do? How are you trying to position yourself to get to that point?
EK: There’s so much I’d like to do. I’m trying to accidentally bump into Joan Rivers. Maybe you can help me.
RM: What’s up next for you in the twelve months to come? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
EK: We begin shooting Season Two of Girl Code this week. Season One got over 1.3 million viewers a week so we’re super excited for Season Two to start! I have a new OldiesParodies video out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yalG4-tnuOE And I am working on a new video right now. So just check my social media for all the updates. Thanks!!
Official Website: http://www.funnyku.com/
Esther on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/funnyku
Esther on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EstherKuKu
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