Actor Jonathan Kite is a far cry from Oleg, the bawdy Ukrainian cook he plays on CBS sitcom "2 Broke Girls." He's US-born, more travel-crazed than sex-crazed, and doesn't deliver bawdy one-liners in his daily life. Kite also lends his voice to animated series "Black Dynamite" on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, and after making stand-up comedy a weekend hobby, has become sought after for his impressions of Vince Vaughn, Tom Hanks, Seth Rogen, Liam Neeson, and Robert Downey Jr.
How do you account for the success of "2 Broke Girls"?
I think the show is so successful because it is a pretty good representation of what's happening in America right now, economically speaking. I think there are a lot of people who can relate to that -- people who might have been rich before but are now struggling with a small business, which is what America is built on. It doesn't show it from the white middle-class perspective, either, but from so many different angles, which is a cool, unique thing.
What appealed to you about the role of Oleg? What they were originally asking for was a 45-year-old, bald Russian man. I'm significantly younger and have a full head of hair, and I'm from America, so I think it was probably more of a stretch. So the fact that they took a chance on me was very exciting, and I'm very grateful for it.
I thought the character was unique, because it was something I hadn't seen on television, and I thought it was a unique perspective. He's someone who is sexually loose and from Europe, and there's a different sexual standard that goes along with a lot of the European countries. To bring that in a realistic way, in an American working environment, and making it human and giving it its place, was a super amazing idea. I really appreciated that when I read the pilot and thought that he would be fun to play.
Have you heard any feedback from the Ukrainian community about the character? People hit me up on Twitter every now and then and seem to like it. The feedback that I've gotten is all positive.
Your character uses so many provocative pick-up lines. Have you ever used one yourself in real life?
I'm not really a "liner" type of guy. I think I used to hang out with guys who were pretty good at it, but it just wasn't my approach. I think it can work, but it's maybe another difference between myself and the character.
You have an immense aptitude for impressions, which you bring to your portrayal of Oleg. Who was your first impersonation?
I used to impersonate old movie stars as a kid. A guy named Peter Lorre, an old film star from "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon," and when I was four years old I learned him first.
You are such an in-demand comic actor and stand-up comedian. Which comics inspired you, growing up?
It was the guys like Jim Carrey and Tom Hanks and Jamie Foxx. Bill Cosby was a big one for me -- and Rodney Dangerfield. I liked actors who could tell a story in a humorous way. Like Tom Hanks in "Big," they were servicing the story without layering their own stuff on top of it. They were talented and funny and able to figure out how to tell it in a humorous way.
As an actor and stand-up comedian, I'd imagine that you do a lot of traveling. Which apps help get you from point A to point B?
I use the Waze app every day of my life, because with so much LA traffic, it helps me to navigate through stuff. When you're in a meeting, and it runs over, and you have to get to the next meeting, it helps you get to the next one on time without guessing.
I use a lot of travel apps, because I travel a lot, so there are a lot of flight apps. I use United Airlines a lot and Flights App. Flights App helps you find flights from any airline. I'm going to Hong Kong this summer, and you plug in the dates, and it tells you five different ways to get there. I try to fly with United Airlines, but if there are weird layovers in cities I do stand-up in, and there's a faster way to get there, I'd prefer that.
I play Sudoku a lot. If I didn't have a book with me, I'd find myself playing for a long time and then realize an hour had gone by. I don't really play games or Snapchat, but I tweet and Instagram a lot, which keeps me connected to my fans. It's nice that there's something out there where you can get the fan response so immediately. It's nice to be part of that experience.