Angry Asian Man:
San Diego! Get yourself ready for some laughs. Disoriented Comedy, the first ever all female (sorta) all Asian American standup comedy show tour is coming to San Diego. Two shows, one night, featuring Jenny Yang, D’Lo, Atsuko Okatsuka, Yola Lu and a surprise veteran comedy headliner that you do not want to miss.
It’s happening Friday, January 23 at The Comedy Palace in Kearney Mesa.
Here are some more details about the show:
Disoriented Comedy comes to San Diego!
Two shows in one night.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 23RD, 2015
2 SHOWS / 1 NIGHT: 7:30PM + 9:30PM
TICKETING: $30 GENERAL ADMISSION
$20 GROUP RATE (MINIMUM PURCHASE OF 10 TICKETS)
PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT THE SAN DIEGO CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN WOMEN’S FORUM (NAPAWF)
LOCATION: THE COMEDY PALACE
8878 CLAIREMONT MESA BLVD
SAN DIEGO, CA 92123
TICKETING QUESTIONS: firstname.lastname@example.org
+ SURPRISE VETERAN COMEDY HEADLINER
+ JENNY YANG (BUZZFEED VIDEO/SHOWTIME’S FUNNY WOMEN)
+ D’LO (AMAZON’S TRANSPARENT / HBO’S LOOKING)
+ ATSUKO OKATSUKA (LITTLEROCK / MOCATV)
+ YOLA LU (BUMBERSHOOT / SEATTLE SKETCHFEST)
This is going to be a kickass show. You do not want to miss it.
So who wants discounted tickets? Use the discount code STAYANGRY to get $10 off your ticket. A portion of proceeds will benefit the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum – San Diego.
For further information about the show, and to purchase tickets, go here.
Emmy and Grammy-nominated comedian Margaret Cho co-hosts a new TLC talk show, All About Sex. We caught up with her and chatted about sex and sexuality, Robin Williams and homelessness, self-love, and the upcoming ABC sitcom Fresh Off The Boat.
CAAM (Center for Asian American Media):
Cho is also performing in the upcoming weeks in Sacramento and Nashville. She’s filming a special standup performance in New York City at the Gramercy Theatre on March 7. Check her website for more information. All About Sex premieres January 10th on TLC at 11 pm.
So, yeah, we can just dive right in. Can you tell me a little bit about All About Sex and what it’s going to cover?
It’s an advice show and it’s a talk show. And we’ll take questions from social media about sexuality. It kind of covers all different kinds of sexuality. My area is alternative sexuality—BDSM, queer questions, questions about sex toys. I have been in the alternative sexual community for my entire adult life and I served on the board of Good Vibrations, which is a really important sex toy company for women. And I have a lot of experience in the area of polyamory and alternative sexuality in general. So I’m there to field questions about that.
I’m really thrilled about the show. We have myself on the panel, a doctor who’s really knowledgeable about everything— Dr. Tiffanie [Davis Henry]—and Heather [McDonald] and Marissa [Jaret Winokur] are there to keep it really funny. We’re ready to rock. (See all the hosts’ bios below).
This question is a reader submitted question—Lauren Lola asks: What do you think is the most fascinating thing about sex?
I think it’s just so personal and it’s private. And what I think is most important about sexuality is your own relationship to your own [sexuality]. I think sexuality is always brought up in context of relationships but in truth, the sex life that you have with yourself is way more important than anything you would have with somebody else. The meaning of women’s sexuality is always kind of in relationship to men, or has been historically, but I want to separate that and make it about the individual and make it about establishing that connection with yourself, which I think builds a lot of self-esteem, it builds a lot of trust in our own bodies. That’s my goal, is to help women establish a better relationship with their own sexuality.
Could you talk about your other show, your standup comedy show?
My standup comedy show, I’ll be filming the special for it at the Gramercy Theatre in March. It’s a really a show that is about the way that there’s a rising tide against women, violence, there’s an incredible, terrible trend that I’ve noticed and it’s been around and it makes me really insane. The show is really about finding an answer and trying to stop it. And that anger is okay. I feel it and a lot of women are feeling it. And the show is called There’s no I in Team, but There is a Cho in Psycho.
I have a question about All American Girl. It’s been 20 years and it was a very historically significant show. Do you have any reflections on it looking back?
Well, I’m grateful to have been a part of it. I’m glad to have done it, I’m glad that it was a part of my life. I wish things that I’d done things differently, or I wish I had more control or confidence. But what’s great is that now, finally, there’s going to be another Asian American family show with Fresh Off The Boat. And that’s a show that I helped out a little bit with. I helped Eddie [Huang] out in the beginning and offered him some advice and I learned a lot from him as well. But I feel like with his show Fresh Off The Boat, my dream is realized. Like I actually set out to do something, and it finally got done 20 years later by Eddie Huang. So I’m grateful to him. I think the show is really great. I think it’s going to be a hit.
Nowadays, there are a lot of Asian Pacific American comedians doing their thing. And I think you really helped pave the way for that. What does it feel like seeing a little more diversity in standup comedy?
I’m really proud. I feel very responsible for all of them. I feel like they’re my children. Like I really feel this maternal feeling towards all Asian American comedians. I’m so proud and grateful that they are doing it. I feel like in my little part, I contributed to that. I’m so elated to have inspired people. So they can do what I did and take it so much further. And that’s the best.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for people who don’t fit into the mainstream? Anything you want to share with young people?
It’s great to not fit in. It’s great to be different. It’s important to be different, and I think everybody is different. Nobody is the same. We’re all individuals. Whatever you want to pursue, you should do it. A lot of times, especially with Asian American kids, we tend to put other peoples’ happiness or other peoples’ ideas about us first, which is why I think there are fewer Asian American artists because we tend to want to please our parents and please other people before we please ourselves. In truth, we can’t really do that. We have to just do our own thing and be yourself. I encourage everybody to be themselves.
I know homelessness is a big issue you care about, in part because of your late friend Robin Williams. Are there other social issues you’re really passionate about?
Oh yeah, I mean, many things. Before this, the last several years I’ve been working on marriage equality and I’m always about racial politics. I’m always about gender politics, and feminism is really important to me. Homelessness is an issue that it’s something I can directly affect in a very small way but in a gratifying way. So that’s why I’m doing this [#BeRobin] project here [in San Francisco]. I feel like what you say is one thing, but if you can actually do something to alter the situation, that’s really important.
Is there anything else—any other projects we can look forward to?
Well I think I’m going to be putting some music that will be related to the #BeRobin project. It’s like very, very connected to music to me. As well as a documentary about the events, which is really beautiful. I’ll be touring a lot, so there’s a lot of stuff coming up.
Thank you so much. Is there anything else you want to add?
No, I’m excited about this upcoming year. 2014 was really hard for a lot of reasons, you know, the loss of Robin, the loss of Joan Rivers, which was really devastating. But I feel like I’m so lucky to have known them, and so lucky to have them in my life and now it’s time to come up and parent myself. I feel kind of like an orphan but I feel really confident and strong and just proud that I got to know these great people.
The first time Jenny Yang performed a standup routine at an open mic, it felt like time had come to a standstill. Her set at the Tuesday Night Café in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo lasted only about four minutes. “But it felt like forever,” says Yang, laughing. “I almost barfed, but I didn’t.”
Instead, she became physically ill afterwards, for about a month. “I got sick because I’d worked myself up into such a frenzy,” Yang says. “But part of me also knew that pursuing something so scary, so challenging, meant that I could really grow from it.”
Fast forward to 2014, five years from that fateful night Yang first stepped up to that microphone. And over that time, the Taiwan-born, California-raised writer and comic has been winning over audiences in clubs and college campuses across the country with her socially conscious humor and exuberant style of delivery. Her material infuses new life into territories often tread by comics of color — the lack of diversity in mainstream media, the pitfalls of dating outside of your race — with a refreshing mix of well-placed sarcasm and self-deprecating candor. Her writing and commentary has been featured on National Public Radio, BBC News, Bitch Magazine, Colorlines and others. Last summer, a Buzzfeed video she starred in and helped to write, “If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say,” hit viral status, with over 6.7 million views to date.
But she realizes she still has much more to learn in her chosen field. “I’m still considered a newbie,” Yang demurs. “People say that between seven to 10 years is when you get to a point when you’re better.” She admits, however, that she feels much more confident on stage these days. When asked if she’s ever “bombed,” Yang pauses a few seconds to think, then answers matter-of-factly: “When you start doing standup, you get used to varying degrees of jokes working or not working. It’s a lot more gray than just, oh my god, I was going to kill myself out there.”
In person, Yang is friendly and warm, and indeed, she’s funny — though not in the set-up and punch line manner of her stage act, nor with the unbridled silliness conveyed in 140 characters or less on Twitter. (An example: “At the market, read ‘Organic’ vegetables sign as ‘Orgasmic.’ Calling therapist now.”) Perhaps because she sometimes tweets in shouted all-caps and easily embraces the abbreviated shorthand of the Internet generation, I expected to meet someone more cavalier, a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. Rather, Yang seems to give serious thought to every answer, at times interrupting herself to clarify a point.
There are moments she borders on pensive, such as when discussing her opinions on where Asian Americans fit within the racial and social structures of the U.S. “We’re still very black and white in America,” she says. “Even considering the Latino community is a start. In some ways, the public discourse has recognized Latinos, like, ‘Look at them, they’ve emerged!’” Yang rolls her eyes. “Well, actually, they’ve always been here.”
As for Asian Americans, she believes that “mainstream media is still very undereducated on how to talk about us in a way that honors the community, as people worthy of respect.”
She mentions Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese American NBA star, whose image was juxtaposed with a fortune cookie by the press during the height of the Linsanity blitz two years ago. “Who does that?” she asks, exasperated. “How would anyone think that would be OK?” She adds, “Because he’s Asian, they play up stereotypes. To me, that’s just where we’re at, sadly.”
Yang says that she grapples daily with the myriad ways that her Asian American identity intersects with other facets of her life, and she hopes to translate her observations into jokes that will make people laugh, all the while creating a more nuanced dialogue on race, gender and politics. “That’s really important to me,” she says. “Because I’m on a public platform, how do I explain myself and the people I care about?”
One such means is her involvement with the blog I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault, an online safe space where women share powerful and heartbreaking stories of harassment and sexual assault, in the form of letters written to a younger sister. Yang contributed a post that poignantly detailed a childhood experience with an older white boy who sexually bullied her, and the injury further compounded when Yang’s own mother readily dismissed the abuse.
In the time since she began pursuing an entertainment career, Yang has come to the definitive conclusion that “we need more Asian American artists.”
In this spirit, Yang founded Dis/orient/ed Comedy, a standup tour that features an all-Asian American, predominantly female cast. The show premiered at the David Henry Hwang Theater, the 240-seat space that is also a part of the Union Center of the Arts, along with the courtyard where Yang first took up the mic at the Tuesday Night Cafe years ago. Dis/orient/ed Comedy is actively touring the country now, with at least one show a month.
She’s also running a monthly story-telling project called Family Reunion, launched this past August at Echoes Under Sunset, in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood. At a recent show, attendees were treated to a surprise appearance by legendary comic Margaret Cho, whom Yang calls her “comedy fairy godmother.” The series takes place on the last Thursday of each month. Yang promises that future Family Reunions will feature cameos by seasoned performers like Cho, while retaining a commitment to showcasing emerging acts.
“Asian Americans are complicated,” says Yang. “We need more artists and writers, more people to tell our stories.”
She grins and adds, “We have enough East Asian ophthalmologists.” Then she bursts into laughter.
Visit jennyyang.tv for Dis/orient/ed Comedy tour dates.
–STORY BY JEAN HO
Photo by Daren Mooko
This story was originally published in Audrey Magazine’s Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here.