Improv performer and teacher Jason R. Chin dies at 46

Jason Chin

Jason Chin during a performance at iO Theater in Chicago on Saturday, July 19, 2014.

Chicago Tribune:

Jason R. Chin, a longtime improv performer, director and instructor at iO Theater, was reported dead late Thursday. He was 46.

His death was announced via Facebook by Charna Halpern, founder and proprietor of iO.

A integral member of the comedy theater for the past 20 years, Chin was a former head of its training center and helped create a number of shows, including “Whirled News Tonight,” which uses current events as a springboard for improvisation and is now a decade into its run.

Chin was scheduled to teach a class at iO Thursday night but did not show up, which was unusual. “He wasn’t the sort of guy to forget or flake out,” Halpern said. “So we were calling him and calling him.”

Two friends went to his Chicago apartment, and when he did not answer, called the police. A Cook County medical examiner’s report Friday said the cause of death was heart disease. “People knew right away something was wrong because he always showed up,” Halpern said.

Chin was born in June 1968 in the Flushing neighborhood of New York City. Like so many others, he moved to Chicago to pursue improv. He was working in marketing for a computer company in Champaign, Ill., and visiting Chicago on the weekends, where a pal was taking classes with Tina Fey. In the documentary “Whether the Weather,” he recalls seeing Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert do an improv set after their Second City show one night and was intimidated. “They were improvising songs that melted my brain, they were that good. Then I went to see a student show and they weren’t that good and I thought, ‘Well, I can do that.’

That planted the seed and he moved to town in 1995, becoming friendly with performers including Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch. He had since gone on to train a number of other performers including “Saturday Night Live’s” Vanessa Bayer.

One thing I loved about Jason,” Halpern said, “was he was always watching the newer students and plucking out the people he thought were good and giving them a chance and throwing them into the iO family.”

A calm, steadying presence at iO, Chin was also something of a pop culture nerd, which led to a “Star Wars” spoof in the mid-90s titled “Jedi: A Musical Tour de Force,” which ran for a number of months before the George Lucas camp sent a cease-and-desist letter.

His ability to improvise a well-packaged story while at the same time providing inspiration for the improvisation that followed was astounding,” said Annoyance Theatre founder Mick Napier. “While watching him you also think, ‘This guy has that many great stories in him?’ He will be so dearly missed.

Chin wrote a book on improv titled “Long-Form Improvisation & The Art Of Zen: A Manual For Advanced Performers” (2009). From 2009 to 2011, he wrote the blog “An Improvised Blog” for ChicagoNow, a Tribune property. More recently he wrote the blog JasonChinFTW.

Since moving into the theater’s new space in the Clybourn Corridor six months ago, Halpern said she’s noticed “little toy dinosaurs scattered around the theater.” Only recently did she learn that Chin was behind that, “just putting them throughout the theater to give the place some character.”

Jason Chin is survived by his mother Rose Marie Chin, father John Chin, brother Jonathan and sister Jennifer.

Here’s a particularly fun clip of Jason Chin performing on stage:

Video

OTHERS by HYPEBEAST: Interview with actor Daniel Wu

OTHERS by HYPEBEAST takes us to the world of film with Berkeley-born actor Daniel Wu. In the video, Wu shares with us how 16 years ago, while on his way to becoming a full-time architect, a soul-searching trip to Hong Kong lead him on his path of acting — and eventually on to producing, directing and talent management.

Despite having deviated from his intended path, Wu was able to find another calling to apply his stringent work ethic and passion towards, and has since stared in over 60 Hong Kong films. Watch the video above to learn more on Daniel Wu’s ideal of OTHER and the similarities between architecture and filmmaking.

Link

Walking Dead: No More Asian-American Male Stereotypes

 

Walking Dead

Liberty Voice:

 

Walking Dead‘s Glenn Rhee, played by Korean-American actor Steven Yeun, is not the stereotypical Asian-American male in most Western mainstream media. He is just a former pizza delivery guy from Michigan who is pretty good at stabbing and stomping zombie brains. His love and devotion to his wife, Maggie, and his bonding with group in the prison are no different from most men of other cultures. Glenn does not use any mathematical genius to calculate the time it takes for the group to travel from one place to another, nor does he use any special kung fu kicks or ancient Chinese secrets to overcome ravenous zombies or sociopathic tyrants and bandits. For example, in Season 3, a simple headbutt was his response to Merle’s snide comments about his wife. No karate chop needed.

There has been much discussion about the lack of legitimate film and TV roles for Asian-American men in a predominantly “black and white” entertainment industry in the United States. Not only are Asian-American portrayed as shy and somewhat anti-social nerds, martial art masters, or bumbling immigrants who speak with a heavy accent, they are sometimes substituted by White actors to play Asian roles. Examples of this can be seen in the movies 21 and The Last Airbender and in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu, starring the late David Carradine.

The stereotypes among Asian-American males did not stop Yeun from flying to L.A. from Chicago to star in The Walking Dead. He was nervous about what is expected of him during the initial wardrobe fitting, and he tried not to think about who he looks like. “They put me in these clothes that made me look like Short Round,” Yeun said, referring to the sidekick who screamed, “You call him Doctor Jones!” in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He bit his lips and told himself to not to worry about his appearance or what others may think of him.

Yeun’s character fulfills roles that can be played by anyone. Of course, there are a few times when Glenn’s race and Korean heritage are mentioned, such as in Season 1 when Daryl referred Glenn as a “Chinaman,” in Season 2 when Maggie’s father, Herschel, asked where he’s from, and in Season 3 when Merle remarked to Daryl that he “damn near killed that Chinese kid,” in which Daryl corrected, “He’s Korean.” These are very minor details that can be changed or omitted according with the character.

Before the Walking Dead star became a familiar face on prime time television, Yeun had worked briefly in theater in Chicago and had turned down a gig. He thought that would be portraying the negative stereotypes among Asian-Americans. The producers of the gig asked him to do an eighties monologue, and Yeun opened one from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. After that, they asked him if he could do an Asian accent. Yeun turned skeptical. What the producers really wanted to see was Yeun playing the character Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. “After that, they wanted to book me and I just refused,” Yeun said.

The Walking Dead is not the only show that portrays more variety among Asian-American male actors who are playing roles that are not dictated by stereotype, race, nationality, or accent. These actors including John Cho from Harold and Kumar, Daniel Dae Kim from Hawaii 5-O, and C.S. Lee from Dexter. However, the pioneer to resisting Asian-American male stereotypes should be accredited to George Takei, the famous helmsman of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the original Star Trek series who proved that Asians can drive.

 

Check out this link:

 

Walking Dead: No More Asian-American Male Stereotypes