Steve Byrne is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is of Irish and Korean descent. His mother is Korean and his Irish father Robert D. Byrne was born in West Virginia and is now living in England. In 2006, Steve Byrne’s Comedy Central Presents Half Hour Special premiered and was voted the seventeenth most popular Comedy Central Presents by fans as part of the Standup Showdown on comedycentral.com. He was also featured in small parts in the films, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard starring Jeremy Piven and produced by Will Ferrell and Four Christmases starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon and Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. In 2008, Byrne had a one-hour special on Comedy Central titled Steve Byrne’s Happy Hour. Steve Byrne embarked on his own USO tour of Afghanistan in June 2008 and Japan and Guam in July 2009. He has been part of several national comedy tours including The Jameson Comedy Tour, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour, and The Camel Cigarettes Sin City Tour, and his own national MySpace tour. He has opened for musical acts Kanye West, Mariah Carey on her Charmbracelet Tour, Modest Mouse, Puddle of Mudd, Spoon, Rev. Horton Heat and many more.
On Sunday, July 25, 2010, he had another one-hour special on Comedy Central titled “The Byrne Identity.” Byrne was also featured on the NBC series The Real Wedding Crashers and a featured comic on The Tonight Show. He has made appearances on Chappelle’s Show, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, The History Channel’s “History of the Joke,” Mad TV’s 300th episode and a Super Bowl promo on CBS with Prince and Bill Cowher. He has appeared as a stand-up comic on The Late Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Call with Carson Daly, BET’s ComicView, ABC’s Good Morning America as well as Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. Steve has been a featured comic in The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Las Vegas the TBS Very Funny Festival in Chicago, the TBS Very Funny Festival in Toronto and The CanWest Comedy Fest in Vancouver. Recently, he has appeared on the new Showtime comedy series “Live Nude Comedy” and shot a pilot for the G4 Network based on a Japanese Game Show called “Drunken Businessman”. Asiance is here to discuss Steve’s rapid rise to success in the world of comedy and the influence that both his Korean and Irish heritage have on his stand-up routines. I have to admit, it was very hard for me to contain my laughter throughout this entire interview with funnyman Steve Byrne!
Sexual Harassment – Steve Byrne – The Byrne Identity
ASIANCE: Your mother is Korean and your father is Irish. Were you raised to respect both Korean and Irish history and tradition?
Steve: I was raised to simply respect my parents or I’d get a nice white palm across my face. Or a wooden spoon cracking me on the bone of my arm. Respect. Or be bruised.
ASIANCE: What part of your Korean heritage do you think contributed to your success today?
Steve: I have a very fun job but I would attribute the Irish side for the humor and storytelling (and the love of Jameson Whiskey). I would attribute the Korean side for my discipline and hard work to attaining my goals.
There is no humor on my Korean side. AT ALL! Even in family pictures, my brother and I are the only ones smiling.
ASIANCE: What is your favorite Korean dish, song, and lesson that you learned from your mother?
Steve: Galbi. Without a doubt. I am in Cincinnati and I just got back from a Korean BBQ place by my hotel. It’s usually the first thing I’ll look for when touring. The best lesson I learned from my mother is to respect my mother. She’ll lay down a real ass whooping if I am out of line to this day.
ASIANCE: Do you get your sense of humor from your dad? The Irish are known for their humor!
Steve: Absolutely. There is no humor on my Korean side. AT ALL! Even in family pictures, my brother and I are the only ones smiling. Always. It’s hilarious.
ASIANCE: Tell me your favorite Irish joke.
Steve: Don’t know jokes jokes. I have a favorite Irish whiskey and her name is Jameson.
ASIANCE: When was the first time you visited Korea and what is your favorite Korean time-honored tradition?
Steve: I have yet to visit Korea. It really sucks. I’ve been to China, Japan and Guam to perform and Ireland, but never once Korea. So hopefully one day I make it out there.
ASIANCE: Where have you been in Ireland and what part of your Irish heritage do you think contributed to your success today?
Steve: I’ve been to Dublin for St Patty’s Day and it was a blast. The Irish are a very laid back, warm people. They have a history of fighting for themselves. With that comes a self respect and I believe an enormous sense of humor. Sometimes when you’ve got nothing all there is to do is laugh. I respect the Irish. Hardened but absolutely fun loving. I am proud to be both Irish and Korean. They both have a lot in common in terms of their history of fighting for themselves.
ASIANCE: What is your favorite Irish dish, saying and song that you learned from your dad?
Steve: Oh Lord, I love Shepherd’s Pie. If I am in a pub, I’m always game. Danny Boy is my tune.
ASIANCE: Would you say that you have “the luck of the Irish”? (If yes, please give example of why)
Steve: I unfortunately do not have the luck of the Irish. Quite the opposite actually. I posses Murphy’s Law, which states if something can go wrong, it will. That has been my case more than not, in a very funny way. Nothing major. For example, I am the guy who gets out of a shower, goes for the towel and the rack will fall out of the wall. Now I have to spend 45 minutes of my day going to Home Depot and repairing the wall. This happens on a daily basis.
The New Girl – Another Awkward Situation with Steve Byrne
ASIANCE: Does your family do St. Patrick’s Day? If so, do they do anything special for either holiday?
Steve: Well, for my Dad, St. Patty’s Day is any day after a hockey game. He loves his beer. I do like St. Patty’s Day but I prefer drinking the other 364 days. That’s a day when all the amateurs want to hang.
ASIANCE: What was the most enjoyable and the most difficult part of growing up as an Asian American child of Irish heritage?
Steve: Well, until my last special, I really didn’t know what to consider myself. That is why I never considered myself an Asian comedian. I’m only half. I’m not totally Irish, again, I am only half. So, the basis of my last special, The Byrne Identity was looking at myself as an American.
ASIANCE: At the current time, do you have more of an American or Asian/Asian American fan base?
Steve: I will be completely honest, I feel that I have more of an American fan base. I don’t feel as though I have ever been truly accepted by the Asian community. I don’t really have Asian jokes and I don’t pander to it either. I am part Korean but I wouldn’t say I have a big Korean following at all. I don’t know how to really explain it but it’s what I have seen. Besides, I don’t want just one group to know me. I am working from a broad place. I want everyone. I don’t want to be exclusive. I want to be inclusive.
ASIANCE: Do you have a specific physical “type” that you go for in a woman based on your own background?
Steve: I usually like a woman who doesn’t have a penis. That can be quite a surprise.
We live in a country where every kid gets a trophy and are made to believe that they are special! Life ain’t easy and a lot of these pussies are unfortunately going to find out the hard way when life takes a hot shovel to your head in your twenties.
ASIANCE: I recently posted the Wall Street Journal Article, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” and we received some scathing comments. I defended the book by Amy Chua of which the article was based upon. Can you weigh in on this as you were raised by a Korean mother?
Steve: I actually agree with her. We live in a country where every kid gets a trophy and are made to believe that they are special! It’s such a load of bullshit. Life ain’t easy and a lot of these pussies are unfortunately going to find out the hard way when life takes a hot shovel to your head in your twenties. I am glad for my parents being loving but also hard on me when I was younger. It made me want to EARN everything I ever got. To this day, I have earned everything I’ve ever attained on my own. When I die, everyone can see the dirt underneath my fingernails from all the hard work.
ASIANCE: Do you have a sort of crush or deep admiration for someone in the public eye who is also of Asian and Irish Descent?
Steve: Wow, I don’t know? I know that there are certainly some hot half Asian gals in the flicks and on the tube. Not sure of their names but yeah, I dig ’em, especially if they don’t have a penis.
ASIANCE: What is the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow“ for you?
Steve: The pot of gold for me is simple: A healthy family, my great friends and their health and continuing to work hard and seeing the results…. and maintaining a 200 yard distance away from Charlie Sheen.