If you ask comedian, Esther Ku, what it’s like doing stand-up comedy, you can always expect a colorful response from her. “It’s a very masculine thing to go on stage and make the audience laugh,” stated Ku. “I liken it to seducing a woman. A comedy club is like a bedroom – “ it’s an intimate, dark atmosphere where faking is never encouraged.”
If you ask comedian, Esther Ku, what it’s like doing stand-up comedy, you can always expect a colorful response from her.
“It’s a very masculine thing to go on stage and make the audience laugh,” stated Ku. “I liken it to seducing a woman. A comedy club is like a bedroom – “ it’s an intimate, dark atmosphere where faking is never encouraged.”
And, when you watch Esther Ku perform, even if it’s just from her Myspace videos, you know she’s not a faker.
The way she communicates with her audience and her physical presence on stage is intriguing. She subtly creates a comedic atmosphere without having to be physically animated. Seeing the petite 5’4″ Ku on stage, bluntly making jokes about taboo topics in a soft-spoken voice, you can’t help but laugh aloud. However, the funny Ku moments don’t stop there. Whether it is on her personal websites or in interviews, you can always expect the 24-year-old New Yorker to give you a good laugh – “ even about the crudest topics. For Esther, throughout her life, censorship has never prohibited her from expressing herself or being funny in her own way.
Esther Ku, who is of South Korean descent, was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up with four other siblings. It was at age four, as she mentions on Funnyku.com, that she discovered she could “be both adorable and cute” during a dining outing with her father at Wendy’s. She recalls that when the cleaning lady came to vacuum under their table, Ku lifted her feet onto the seat, even though her feet barely reached over the edge. Since then Esther has always been the center of attention, always having a need to communicate her thoughts.
During high school, Esther recalls always scribbling funny remarks made by her teachers in her notebook and then eventually reprinting all those quotes in her school newspaper, in which she had her own section.
Although a lot of people, mostly the students, enjoyed Esther’s humor, some didn’t. Her section of the school newspaper was eventually censored. However, that didn’t discourage Esther. Immediately, she started her own “underground” school newspaper – “ printing what she wanted to print. But, being censored in high school was only the beginning.
Watch a video of Esther Ku on last comic standing
After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana, Ku moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she worked as a pen salesperson for Sanford, the company that makes Sharpie markers. It was there Esther encountered individuals who struck her down for finding humor in her line of work.
“After a few years, I got fired for laughing too loudly and at inappropriate times,” said the comedienne. “I couldn’t help but laugh at product and sales meetings – “ every meeting made me feel like I was in a SNL skit. They would sit around and discuss what the latest back-to-school supply would be or what the hottest new color in markets would be.
I was like, “We get paid to sit around and discuss these things? Man, these corporate, white people sure do live a fantastic life.'”
While her co-workers were engrossed with Sharpie affairs, Esther was also leading a fantastic life: pen sales representative by day and hanging out at comedy clubs by night, where she called them “home.”
With the great support of her parents, Ku has been doing stand-up comedy since graduating from college, joking to her heart’s content. In her comedy you will find her talking about her life experiences with all the different people she has encountered in her life (e.g. her family, women, her past and current boyfriends). She has been known to speak openly about her private, intimate moments with her past and current boyfriends – “ to their utter “horror.” Most would say that joking about one’s sexual life is plain rude and embarrassing for the other party involved, but to Ku she sees nothing but humor in doing so.
Margaret Cho is like the Rosa Parks for Asian comedians. She demanded a seat on the comedy bus and told the world – Hey! Asians can be funny too.
“What happens in the bedroom is great comedy fodder because things never go perfectly in there,” explained Esther. “And there’s only two people there. If something funny happens, I have to be able to share it. My last boyfriend was so embarrassed by his personal life being revealed on stage that I had to have to my new boyfriend sign a release form.”
Though some have taken a liking to Ku’s comedy, not everyone has been a fan of what she has to say – “ some literally believing what she says. Her comedy, as a warning, is definitely not for the faint of heart of frank humor, as I personally experienced while preparing for an interview with Ku. Coming across an individual’s blog, I read about one person’s experience after attending one of Ku’s performances. The person was not only offended by her content, but wasn’t entertained at all. After asking Ku if she had any complaints from peeved audience members, she recalled a time when a man e-mailed her about her comedy routine that involved Asian fetishes.
“He was angry that I accused everyone in the audience of having Asian fetishes,” said Esther. “This infuriated him since he was madly in love with his wife. I explained that I don’t truly believe everyone [is] infected with the Asian fetish – “ it just helped create a funny scenario.”
And, being in a funny moment is what Ku loves. With so much time spent performing comedy, whether for television or on stage, one would think the last thing Esther would want is to be in a comedy club during non-working hours – “ but that isn’t the case.
“I love to laugh and watch other comedians’ perspectives on the world,” explained Ku. “As much as I love making people laugh, I love to laugh just as much. If I could, I would live in a comedy club.”
To date, she has had brief spots in television shows and commercials, and, of course, has performed at many comedy clubs on the East coast. She has been in the “Not In Our House” Visa commercial, Animal Planet’s “The A-List “Loudmouths'” and “The A-List “Moms'” shows, and ABC’s New York Comedy Festival One Hour Special. A few of the numerous places she has performed at include Nick’s Comedy Stop in Boston, Massachusetts, Caroline’s on Broadway in New York City, and at the NBC “Stand-up for Diversity” semifinals.
Most recently Ku was a finalist on season 6 of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” And what does Esther have to say about the most prominent Asian comedienne Margaret Cho? “Margaret Cho is like the Rosa Parks for Asian comedians. She demanded a seat on the comedy bus and told the world – Hey! Asians can be funny too. Jews have a head start in this industry as they have a long comedy history. Asians have only recently been getting funny. People are still getting used to it.”
If you would like to contact the writer, she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits Mark Levitan