It’s no surprise that Jonathan Kite, who grew up idolizing cartoon-voice legend Mel Blanc and counts more than 50 impressions in his repertoire, can pull off a convincing (yet humorous) Ukrainian accent as Oleg, the sleazy short-order cook, on the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls. Kite, who also works as a stand-up comedian, has his first major TV-series role on 2 Broke Girls, offering up lewd come-ons to main characters Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs). Here he talks about the show’s success, the evolution of his character, and a few of his other recent projects.
Is there added pressure since the show has been so successful?
No, I don’t think so. It never gets easier, obviously, with the demand that has been put upon us now, but I think that there is some level of comfort. The show’s initial success was dependent on us just showing up and doing a good job and just trusting ourselves, trusting each other, trusting the writing. Because we had shot about four or five episodes before it aired. So before anybody had seen it or any critic had said good or bad things about us, we had put together six of what wound up being, viewership-wise, very successful episodes. And I think that was kind of a relief to us, that we didn’t really have to change anything. We would just, hopefully, as the show evolves, just have to keep getting better. I think a show, being on the air, will naturally do that, if you buckle down and are able to find each other’s patterns faster. For us, it’s kind of exciting to know that what we were doing -- I think we’re really appreciative and just more excited than anything else.
Do you think the show has evolved so far during this season?
Absolutely. I think that’s the biggest thing, especially with my character, [the writers] definitely have been developing it. In the initial episodes, the focus -- as it should have been -- is on the title characters, and I think that as their world has really opened up, it’s allowed our world -- myself and the other two -- to open up as well, and I think that that’s just really exciting for me as an actor on the show.
How was the character of Oleg created initially? How much did you bring to it, and how much came from the writers?
I think one of the great things about being on a show is that they will start to write for you. So once they get to meet you and kind of understand what you’re all about, it’s exciting, because they listen to you, and you make suggestions sometimes, and that shows up. But initially they had only the first episode, so everything that I was doing was based off of that one thing.
And how did you develop the accent?
It was in the breakdown. That was what they required. The part was actually written for a 45-year-old bald Russian. They knew right away that they wanted him to be Eastern European. He’s Ukrainian now, but it started off being Russian. I grew up in Skokie, Illinois, which is right outside of Chicago, and there’s a ton of Eastern Europeans there. And a lot of my friends were first-generation [Americans], when I was very, very young. All of their family was from Eastern Europe. So I had hung out with their parents, and I think that was the first accent I probably learned. Because I do a lot of accents, but that was the first one that I was able to get pretty easily, just because I was around it constantly as a kid.
Have you gotten feedback from Eastern Europeans about the character?
We’ve actually had some on the show. We’ve had some come to the tapings. I’m happy to say that the response has been extremely positive.