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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

The Kosta Doin’ Comedy: Breaking Down ‘The Comment Section’ with Michael Kosta

{Image Credit: NBC Universal/Brian Bowen Smith}

With the rapid expansion of social media, there’s a new type of user crawling out from the deep, dark, and murky pits of the Internet’s basement, turning the web into the “Wild West” for belligerent and often impudent dialogue through the comments section found on articles of news sites.

Feeling like the closest thing to hell the Internet has ever seen, the comments section is truly an increasing cesspool of new-age stupidity and poorly spelled monologues, unleashing mindlessness and vitriol. But it’s more of a goldmine for E!’s newest star, the hilarious and affable Michael Kosta.

Finding amusement and humor in such discourse with his new show, The Comment Section, the 36 year-old comedian finds people just don’t care what they say online.

“There’s no consequence, you know? You post and nothing really happens,” he says. “There’s just no stakes.”

Having just landed in a somewhat snazzy hotel in the suburbs of Minneapolis before heading to his standup set, the Michigan native is a smart, sensible, and laid-back guy, who genuinely enjoys his newfound gig.

Interviewing social media personality, Dan Bilzerian on an episode of The Comment Section. {Image Credit: E! Entertainment/NBC Universal}

Premiering this past August on E! after The Soup, The Comment Section is the first of its kind, tackling the Internet by breaking down snarky comments found on popular websites and dissecting how viewers and commenters react to the week’s biggest—or least important news stories.

After renegotiating his own contract with E! last year, producer Joel McHale agreed to creating a show about the Internet’s comments section when executive producer and head writer of The Soup, K.P. Anderson suggested a half-hour comedy in the nature of McHale’s highly-successful program, satirically showcasing the Internet’s comments section.

“It’s great working with Joel. We don’t see him very often which is good, and I mean that in a positive way,” Kosta says. “He certainly has the right and ability to get very involved if he wants to, but he trusts us and stays out of our way—in a good way.”

Revealing that McHale gets a copy of the scripts each week, Kosta believes his producer has every right to weigh in, but chooses not to. “What so many people don’t realize about making a good comedy show is so much of it is just letting the people that are funny be funny, and let ‘em do their thing and Joel is great that way,” Kosta says.

With a team led by head writer and showrunner, Greg Heller helping scope out the best of the worst in Internet comments, Kosta and his crew mine through a chasm of stories from various media outlets that the E! audience is most familiar with.

“I’ve read every single comment on the Internet that has ever been posted,” he jokes. “I pick my favorites [and] we start with what the stories are that revolve around pop culture.”

Kosta with The Comment Section‘s producer, Joel McHale at the 2015 NBC Universal Press Tour. {Image Credit: Getty Images/Mark Davis}

Having learned much about how the comment sections work online, Kosta has uncovered a pattern of certain websites like TMZ or The Daily Mail playing to the lowest common denominator by publishing fluff stories, and observed that the less important a story, the more heightened and exaggerated are the comments.

“[Those sites] get a lot of kind of outlandish and ridiculous comments,” Kosta says. “But, if you go to the New York Times or BBC, I mean, we found some really wonderful stuff on what you would think would be somewhat intelligent websites with somewhat intelligent discourse, but that’s not always the case.”

While Kosta finds anonymous comments and trolls amusing with their drive to incite reaction, he is mostly taken aback with how some users bravely use their first and last name to post really terrible, hateful things online. “If this was face-to-face, you’d never see these types of words,” he says.

Though his half-hour satirical commentary show pokes fun at real Internet commenters, don’t think Kosta doesn’t understand where that vexation comes from.

“We all have something that pisses us off and the Internet is a very safe place to post those opinions. [And] I have certainly thought about posting some stuff—I haven’t,” he says softly with a smile. “But you know, you have a long day at work, you come home, [and] you have a bottle of wine. All of a sudden, some terrible things get typed into the Internet and I’m happy they do, otherwise I wouldn’t have a TV show.”

Starting out his career as a professional tennis player and assistant tennis coach at the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois alumnus decided to trade in the racket for a full-time job as a standup comic, disclosing he’s always loved comedy and that the two careers are not as far apart as you’d imagine.

“They’re more similar than you would think,” Kosta laughs. “You’re out there by yourself. A lot of your success is dependent on you, a lot of your failures are dependent on you, there’s no hiding your emotions, there’s no hiding the way you feel [and] you get paid really crappy for both of them, unless you are a world champion in both comedy and tennis.”

Performing on his first standup special, Comedy Central Presents: Michael Kosta. {Image Credit: Comedy Central/Viacom}

After appearing at the HBO Comedy and Arts Festival in Aspen, Kosta gained acclaim and relocated to the west coast where he kick started his career in television. Frequenting the late-night talk show circuits from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to Chelsea Lately, Kosta went on to star in his first standup special, Comedy Central Presents: Michael Kosta.

Going on to hosting the popular G4 series, Attack of the Show and FOX Sports 1’s Crowd Goes Wild, the budding comedian went on to be the unabashed correspondent for E!’s spinoff of The Soup, entitled The Soup Investigates.

Though he’s met with much success thus far, Kosta shares his family and friends weren’t initially supportive of the professional change.

“Everyone is supportive now because things have gone well,” he laughs. “But at the beginning, my parents were kind of like, ‘What the hell?’ you know? They thought it was kind of like a bar trick that I did and didn’t think it was actually a career.”

Quickly realizing his clout climbed after The Tonight Show, Kosta grew amazed at how people began taking him more seriously. With humility and cognizance, he found wisdom in the experience.

“When you decide to fully commit to something that isn’t traditional, it really scares a lot of people,” he says.

While Kosta enthuses of hosting The Comment Section, he’s currently on the road touring with his comedy while awaiting news from E! for a full season order.

Idolizing legends like Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, Dennis Miller and Bill Cosby (“I grew up watching Bill Cosby—it’s almost impossible to admit that you like him now, you know?”), Kosta found a lot of comedy growing up as the youngest of four kids.

“Anyone that’s in a big family knows there’s just a lot of comedy, a lot of things that happen, a lot of teasing, and that’s kind of the basis of my comedy,” he says candidly. “All my siblings are funnier than I am, you know?”

Kosta’s standup set on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with guest, Sally Field (November 8, 2012). {Image Credit: NBC Universal/Paul Drinkwater}

While his sister, Kristy, makes him laugh all the time, his brother Todd won’t ever stop teasing him, and brother John is just a “weird nerd comedy guy,” Kosta’s mother Janice gets the last laugh, joking that her most serious child is the comedian. With a sense of humor like that, don’t assume his family helps out with comedy.

During the holiday season, Kosta loves heading back to Ann Arbor for new jokes and ideas for jokes (and of course, seeing his family), but rarely finds anybody successfully giving him an idea that ends up ever working.

“You know, one thing that happens when you’re a comic is strangers and really old friends will email me premises for jokes and it’s really pretty annoying,” he says. “They’ll be like, ‘My uncle once farted on a rollercoaster, you should write a joke about that!’ and really, the best comedians pull from their own experiences and their own lives.”

Currently on the road for 23 hours of the day by himself for his standup tour, Kosta is set to visit Vancouver this week, but shares how much he loves working in TV and looks forward to filming new episodes.

“It’s really fun to work with a group of people,” he beams of his team at The Comment Section. “[What] I like about [our show] is that we don’t just show you the funny comments, but we also offer our opinion—my opinion, and I like that part of it. You know, anyone can just stand up there and just say ‘Here’s a funny comment, here’s a funny comment,’ but we also share my opinion and that’s what makes it really fun.”

With receiving such positive feedback and love from E!’s global audience, Kosta is expressively humbled by it.

Breaking down the Kylie Jenner 18th birthday hate-fest for his E! show, The Comment Section in a segment titled, “Go to Bed Angry.” {Image Credit: E! Entertainment/NBC Universal}

“When I do standup comedy, I get direct feedback from the audience I’m standing in front of, but when you do television comedy, it’s really weird and crazy to think that there’s people in Canada, the Philippines, and the Middle East that are watching the show and laughing,” he says. “That’s the best case scenario.”

With the good comes the bad though, and Kosta is fully aware of the negativity crawling into his social media feeds saying he sleeps fine at night no matter what anyone writes about him.

“Once you make the decision to make people laugh, there’s going to be so many haters but I’ve never received as much positivity online about anything as I have about this show—which is interesting, considering it’s a show about online negativity,” Kosta says in amusement. “I’ve done late-night standup sets, I was on a sports show, I’ve done all different types of TV, and by far, the most positive feedback I’ve gotten is about The Comment Section.”

That said, Kosta takes his profession seriously and shares the comments that hurt the most are the ones aimed at his work.

“The ones where they just call me a douchebag or that my hair looks gay, those don’t really hurt my feelings because it’s just someone spewing, or it’s jealousy, or whatever,” he says. “But the ones that actually are tough are when I know I’ve made a mistake on TV, and I know a joke wasn’t good and someone actually in a level-headed way says, ‘Hey, that was a terrible joke’ or, ‘That was poorly written.’ When they’re actually accurate, that’s when they actually hurt.”

“Every profession that’s fun, entertaining, rewarding is going to try its best to get you out of it,” Kosta says. {Image Credit: NBC Universal/Brian Bowen Smith}

As a solid and steadfast professional whose charms and skills have certainly catapulted him with the upper hand in the industry, Kosta is serving up more than just a comedy grand slam with his show.

With great potential to lift off with The Comment Section and be one of E!’s hottest new stars, Kosta is taking a deep shot with something he loves doing and wouldn’t trade it for the world. As he prepares for his set in a few short hours, Kosta shares words of wisdom for those like him pursuing a dream greater than the norm.

“I think if you’ve got to do it, [know] it’s going to be hard. Every profession that’s fun, entertaining, rewarding is going to try its best to get you out of it,” Kosta says. “If you are really passionate about it, you stick with it and that goes from being a comedian, to being a painter, to being a lawyer—whatever the case may be. They’re going to try to get you to quit the job, [but] if you really love it and are passionate about it, you won’t.”

With Kosta taking center court with The Comment Section and challenging the Internet every day to show him their worst, there’s no dampening the drive and advantage of this hilarious new show and its host. Rich with material produced literally every second, Michael Kosta and The Comment Section stacks up to the late night mix of comedy and commentary this season, and are certainly on point.

* * * * *

For more information on The Comment Section, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep up with the show’s host Michael Kosta by visiting his official website for upcoming tour dates and more, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and Instagram. Be sure to pick up Kosta’s latest comedy album, Comedy for Attractive People now available on iTunes and Amazon.

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