About a year ago, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing a really hilariously funny guy. Unfortunately, the site I was working for didn’t pan out and the interview got lost in the shuffle. So today, I’d like to bring that interview back to the surface for Throwback Thursday. Because you all deserve a chance to know Mr. Jonathan Kite.
If you haven’t heard of Jonathan Kite yet, you are long overdue for an update. If “2 Broke Girls” has ever gotten the chance to grace your television screen, you’ve probably definitely caught this incredible talent–and loved him. Oleg–the Ukrainian cook at the Williamsburg diner the main characters work in–is some of the best comedic relief we’ve seen on a sitcom to date. And his character was greatly influenced by Kite’s own imagination! Not only is he a comedic genius regularly on your screen, but he has been acting for years. His acting credentials can be traced all the way back to 2003 on Jimmy Kimmel, and his talents don’t just stop at acting. He’s an incredible comedian with a background in Theater Acting, as well as a Second City alum. And apparently he’s quite the impressionist. So now it’s time for you to read on about your new favorite guy, and join us in looking forward to watching his career progress and his talents expand!
Meredith Schneider: When did you decide that you wanted to go into entertainment? Was there a defining moment, or did you just happen upon it?
Jonathan Kite: As soon as I found out people got paid to make others laugh, instead of repeatedly being scolded and made an example of multiple times by teachers like Mrs. Meyers or Mr. Olson for doing it in class, I was in.
Meredith: Mrs. Meyers and Mr. Olson sound like teachers I had! Rough stuff! You have quite a background in comedy and an impressive resume. How did you decide on going after a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Acting?
Jonathan: I came from an amazing high school theater program and wanted to continue training in a more intense environment with people who were as serious about it as I was. Acting is all I’ve ever wanted to do, so I’d rather my tombstone said ‘Died trying’ than ‘Here lies a man who just died’. I think school was part of the ‘Try’ for me. It helped me focus a tremendous amount. And if it never worked out, at least I’d have something to put in this old frame I’d been holding on to.
Meredith: What was studying at Second City like? Any fun anecdotes?
Jonathan: I don’t really remember anything too specific other than I gave myself a pretty intense, end-of-Disney-movie speech before our final performance where I pretty much convinced myself that if I wasn’t funny, my career would be over or I would surely be out of the tightly contested ‘Class Clown’ race of ’98.
Meredith: And surely you realized pretty quickly it wasn’t going to be an issue for you. So you were in a sequel to my favorite movie of all time. What was it like being a Black Pearl Pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest? Seriously. That’s so awesome!
Jonathan: When the director had yelled ‘Cut!’ I was asked by a production team member if everything was OK. I simply replied, “You’re paying me to be a pirate. Everything is awesome”. Isn’t it every boy’s dream to grow up to be a pirate? Isn’t that why so many of them become accountants or buy into that ‘Cash For Gold’ commercial?
Meredith: Touche! You had a couple of roles on Disney shows, including ‘The Suite Life on Deck’ and ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’. Were those fun to be a part of?
Jonathan: Being on Disney shows helped fulfill a lifelong dream of acting alongside kids who didn’t have to go to real school. When I was a kid, while watching ‘Saved By The Bell’, all I could think was, “Wow, these kids don’t have to go to school! I want to be a child actor!” Which is of course untrue. They do have to go to school. It has weird hours and you have no one to play with unless there are other kids on the show. So in the end, I think I made the right choice not to be a kid actor.
What was the question?
Meredith: Ha! AMAZING point. By the way, what was it like being the face of Muscle Milk?
Jonathan: Being the face of any milk is quite an honor, but considering I have very little muscle mass, this was truly an incredible accomplishment for me. I compare it to if Danny DeVito became the face of a shoe that claimed it could make you dunk.
Meredith: What did Danny every do to you? But, in all seriousness, what is your favorite comedic memory? (Be it your comedy, a movie, a show, or someone else you saw.)
Jonathan: Entertaining my parents. I have two memories and they each involve a different parent. When I was little, I used to fake cry, which always made my mother laugh until she cried for real. I used to retell one of my father’s favorite jokes to him where the punch line involved a dog licking its butt to get the taste of a mother’s meatloaf out of his mouth. Those two stories may or may not be related.
SO: I have no real response to that. ‘2 Broke Girls’. You’re so amazing on that show, and keep us giggling for hours on end! How did you get involved with that show? What has that experience been like?
Jonathan: The part was originally meant for a forty-five year old Russian. I went in for it just as an opportunity to meet the producers. Realizing I had to do something to make them take notice, I came dressed as what I thought the character would look like. I wore a sleeveless under shirt with mustard stains, black and brown tiger striped pants, which I hemmed up to look like capris, that had fading glitter on the butt, old white sweat socks, sad brown leather flip-flops, and a hair net. I had read somewhere that John Belushi never slept, but rather had three, eight hour cycles to his day. My take on him was very similar. He is a mover and a shaker. He works at the diner for eight hours, then goes clubbing until the early morning, then to other mysterious places. And repeat cycle.
My experience has been one of the most exciting and rewarding of my life. To be part of something that you believe in with people that you love is truly a dream. That and never being called in for jury duty.
SO: Seriously, best point anyone has ever made. Any fun stories from the set of ‘2 Broke Girls’? (P.S. You could fool anyone into thinking you’re Ukrainian. Ask any of my foreign former college roommates. It’s incredible, really.)
Jonathan: Beth and I will occasionally sing rap songs in the form of opera and Matt and I have conversations about mundane things in the voice of Liam Neesom from the movie Taken.
Please pass along my thanks to your college roommates. I grew up with a lot of friends that are first generation Americans so listening to their family members is probably where I pull most of my sound-alike inspiration. I don’t pay them royalties but try and thank them in as many interviews as I can. So, thank you to them.
SO: So you might be getting a cable special in the new year. How exciting! How is that coming along? Anything you can actually share with us about it?
Jonathan: I am not quite sure when exactly it will come out. I am working on it every day. I am trying to come up with a way to share my experiences in the world of Hollywood and how unreal it all still seems to me. Working on the Warner Brothers lot each day is never lost on me and I want the audience to experience that ‘Kid in a Candy Store” feeling through my lens.
SO: We hear you’re an excellent impressionist. Which ones are your favorites?
Jonathan: I enjoy doing impressions of famous people that the listener has perhaps not heard before. My favorites are Vince Vaugh, Tom Hanks, Robert Downey, Jr., Ian McKellen, Liam Neeson, and Jeff Bridges. I’d say Abraham Lincoln, but you wouldn’t be able to test my accuracy.
SO: Which cartoon character would you be if you could?
Jonathan: After recently learning that my favorite cartoon growing up is actually a racist image, I would have to say Bugs Bunny. He’s charming, has healthy eating habits, and never gets caught.
SO: What else can we look forward to from you in the near future?
Jonathan: Right now, I am focusing on developing some projects for myself that show the world another, non-Ukrainian chef side. Perhaps I’ll star in something where I’m a Malaysian waiter.
SO: I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much during an interview.