‘This Feels Like A Social Experiment’: Joel Kim Booster Can’t Believe He’s Still Being Mistaken for Bowen Yang

Why do so many journalists still think that Joel Kim Booster is Bowen Yang and vice versa?
‘This Feels Like A Social Experiment’: Joel Kim Booster Can’t Believe He’s Still Being Mistaken for Bowen Yang

Left: Joel Kim Booster. Right: Bowen Yang.

That distinction is as important as it is painfully simple – and, yet, the two different comedians who are not the same person at all are constantly called by the other’s name, and not in the fun Timothée Chalamet way. Booster, a writer, producer and actor known for his work on the critically acclaimed Big Mouth and The Other Two, recently collaborated with Yang on the 2022 film Fire Island, a modern gay adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that was written and starred by Booster himself. Yang is a Saturday Night Live star and the co-host of the popular Las Culturistas podcast, and he is also not Joel Kim Booster.

As the two most prominent gay, male comedians of East Asian descent in American entertainment, culture writers who can’t be bothered to tell Booster and Yang apart often lump them together and use their names interchangeably, a topic that Out Magazine, the country’s most prominent LGBTQ+ publication, found concerning enough to warrant an in-depth examination. Following The Hollywood Reporter’s recent gaff in which it miscredited Booster as a Saturday Night Live comedian, Out published an article titled “Bowen Yang & Joel Kim Booster Are Tired of ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ Mixing Them Up.” Considering the content of the piece, surely Out would be extra mindful to correctly identify their two subjects, right?

Wrong. Out miscredited one of Yang’s quotes on his aforementioned podcast to Booster, creating a cyclone of irony that still has the latter’s head spinning. To be clear, these are not isolated incidents – a point Out attempted to make perfectly clear – but a pattern of proofreading fails and racist mix-ups that’s been plaguing the two comics for years. In the most infamous instance, The Hollywood Reporter posted a picture of Booster when Yang was cast on SNL back in 2019.

“Listen. People have been confusing Bowen and I for almost a decade now. It’s so weird and draining to realize just how many people scan us and stop collecting data beyond our race and sexuality,” Booster wrote in a follow-up tweet to the offending screenshot. “Bowen and I promised each other that this year we’d suppress our urge to make the people who mix us up feel better afterwards. No more ‘no worries you’re okay, haha’ to assuage people’s guilt. I still give people a lot of grace but sometimes it’s good for people to sit in it.”

And sit in it they will while I proofread this article a dozen times over. Left: Joel Kim Booster. Right: Bowen Yang.

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