With a permeating penchant for the comic, landing a role on CBS’s new comedy Two Broke Girls sounds like a stellar scenario for Chicago native, Second City enthusiast and actor Jonathan Kite. Throw in his character’s description as “an oversexual Russian chef,” and you have a soon-to-be sitcom staple. We caught up with the man behind this racy Russki to talk Warner Bros., Williamsburg and what not to wear.

Start at the beginning, finish at the end, and leave out nothing.

Well, I’m from a town right outside Chicago, did a lot of theater growing up. I went to the University of Illinois for acting, and when I graduated, I came to L.A. and started working, but Two Broke Girls is probably the first thing that will really put me out there. What else do you want to know?

Why comedy?

I went to a lot of Second City shows growing up, and I loved that. Growing up, my heroes were Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey. I have a love for storytelling, and I think actors like Tom Hanks do that really well. I think comedy is so reflective of the human existence. It chronicles that existence in a very different way than perhaps a drama might.

But are you funny?

I get cast in comedy. Out here, a lot of it is talent, but a lot of it’s looks and how you fit into a mold. Once you establish yourself in the way that the industry sees you, you’re in a good place.

Tell us about the show.

The show is about two girls from two very different worlds: One is played by Kat Dennings, a street-smart savvy survivor, and the other by Beth Behrs, an heiress to a fortune whose father gets indicted in a Ponzi scheme, so everything’s on lockdown. They both work at a Williamsburg diner in Brooklyn, New York.

So you film in New York?

Actually we film in Los Angeles on a Warner Bros. lot. The show’s produced by Michael Patrick King, who directed Sex and the City in New York for a long time. He is a perfectionist in terms of authenticity and wanting to represent the city accurately. The Brooklyn people are definitely reflected in the personalities they bring on.

You mean they all smoke Parliaments, drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and flirt with veganism, while ironically loving bacon?

Ha ha, yes, there are a lot of hipsters in the diner, but the show goes to a lot of other places, from rich socialites to the seedier parts of the city.

I notice you’re wearing a bow tie, looking very dapper, if you don’t mind my saying so.

Not at all.

Is that all thanks to our fashion director, JenniLee, or do you have some sense of style?

I wear bow ties all the time, and I definitely consider myself to have a strong sense of style. I think appearance is such a big part of Hollywood and is such an expression of your own sense of self. There’s also an implicit comedy in the bow tie, especially in more casual situations. Right now, I wear a lot of Rag & Bone. I have Billy Reid, Steven Alan, that kind of stuff. Somehow, I managed to miss the Ed Hardy wave that swept the West Coast.


Thank you very much. —William Buckley

(This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of ANTENNA.)