Loot season two: Joel Kim Booster on his conservative parents and what it’s like to improv with Maya Rudolph

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Loot season two premieres on April 3.
Loot season two premieres on April 3. Credit: Apple TV+

The only time Joel Kim Booster’s parents have ever seen him on screen was when he was a guest in a 2022 episode of Celebrity Jeopardy.

For the self-confessed game show addict, Celebrity Jeopardy was safe ground, unlike his irreverent stand-up sets, and Fire Island, the LGBTQI Pride and Prejudice adaptation he wrote and starred in, or even Loot, the comedy in which he plays Nicholas, the best friend and assistant to Maya Rudolph’s billionaire divorcee.

“They are extremely incurious,” Booster told The Nightly. “They’re very proud that I’m able to support myself and that I’ve never asked them for money or financial assistance, they love that.

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“But they are very deeply religious, conservative people, much like (Nicholas’) parents on the show. I think they would be more upset by the content and a lot of my material so they respectfully turn a blind eye to most of my work, which I’m totally fine with.”

Loot season two premieres on April 3.
Loot’s second season is both warmer and sharper. Credit: Apple TV+

Booster may be part of an ensemble on Loot, returning for its second season this week, but he is easily a standout in a cast of all very funny people which also includes Ron Funches, Nat Faxon and Michaela Jae Rodriguez. His character Nicholas is withering and witty but so lovable that even when he is eviscerating your life choices, you want to give him a bear hug.

That’s a perilous line to walk but Booster makes it work.

With the heavy lifting of the set-up out of the way (Rudolph plays Molly, a woman whose divorce from a tech mogul leaves her with billions and a new purpose in life), the second season is able to settle in as a workplace-slash-personal discovery comedy.

With its creators Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard hailing from found family shows such as Parks and Recreation, The Good Place, Master of None, Superstore and 30 Rock, the series has a high laughs-per-minute ratio while thematically, it’s aiming for no less than asking how to be a good person. With its second season, it’s both warmer and sharper as it deepens its characters.

For Nicholas, that means getting into his backstory, which includes introducing Booster’s onscreen parents, who are suspiciously similar to his own folks. Like Booster, Nicholas is a Korean-American adoptee who grew up in the US mid-west.

Loot season two premieres on April 3.
Joel Kim Booster also wrote and starred in Fire Island. Credit: Apple TV+

“From the beginning, Matt and Alan have been really generous and open in allowing us to invest in these characters. They came to me really early in the writing of season two and asked point blank, ‘Do you want (Nicholas) to have Asian parents or do you want him to be adopted like you are?’.

“I’ve never been given that choice before as a performer, so it’s really nice for me to be able to say, ‘Let’s have him be adopted’ and it’s not centered in that episode, it’s just presented to the audience. Here are his parents, figure it out.”

Yang and Hubbard seem open to their cast members’ input, a smart move given the comedic talent on the set. Booster explained that when they’re filming, the first two takes are for the bosses and then they’re given a “fun one”.

“‘OK, now do whatever you want’. We all have different approaches to that but we all feel really safe, especially in season two, to take big swings. Sometimes they’re big old misses but you know the person in the scene is going to pick up the ball and volley it back to you,” Booster said.

Loot season two premieres on April 3.
Loot has the hallmarks of a workplace comedy. Credit: Apple TV+

More often than not, that person is Rudolph, with Booster describing the dynamic between Nicholas and Molly as more than just boss and employee.

“It’s also more than just friends. It’s weirdly a romance and sometimes it’s mummy and baby where sometimes she’s the mummy and I’m the baby and sometimes I’m the mummy and she’s the baby. It’s very complicated, sometimes toxic and sometimes really positive. It’s so fun to be able to do that with someone I’ve looked up to for so long.”

Rudolph is an executive producer on Loot and an industry legend whose background in improv includes iconic troupe The Groundlings and 153 episodes of Saturday Night Live. Booster described working with her as a “masterclass in every scene”.

“Getting to watch her be ridiculous and spontaneous in the moment is so inspiring and so much fun. She’s so generous too, as a scene partner, she is never concerned with making sure that she has the biggest joke.

“Maya really sets the tone of the set, and for me, that’s so nice to work for somebody who loves their family. I’ve had a lot of bosses who don’t care about their families, whether they live or die, and that is a much harder work environment. She brings that warmth to the set, it’s a very humane set.”

Loot season two is streaming on Apple TV+ from April 3


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