8 Asians

White House

On January 21, 2017, I marched in the Women’s March at Washington D.C., and I came back from the experience rejuvenated, inspired, and hopeful for the tough years ahead.

For me, the march began when I picked up my poster and stepped out the door of my hotel room. Every door I walked by in the hallway was a potential threat; every person I walked by was a possible assailant. Being an Asian woman, I am always scanning every room I walk into for the most dangerous person and deriding myself when I let my guard down. But in the storm that has always been raging around me, I understood that my protest poster was a lightning rod.

When we arrived the night before, the hotel lobby was full of people who were celebrating that day’s inauguration festivities, swishing around in elaborate and opulant gowns or sporting a red cap with that slogan of racism veiled as patriotism. There were plenty of people who would hate Women’s March protesters there.

The day of the March, the front lobby was filled instead with knitted pink hats, and a middle aged white woman squealed “YAY!” when she saw us file out of the elevator with our signs. I gave her a muted smile, although a high-five may have been more effective for the cause. Why was I restrained? Because I was bracing for an attack.
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comedyinvasianfeb11

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to produce a one hour special for the super talented Dwayne Perkins called Take Notes. (If you want to check it out, it’s on Netflix). It was a fun and great project to work on. That’s why when director/producer Quentin Lee and I were trying to figure out our next project, doing a stand up series featuring Asian Americans made sense. Comedy InvAsian is what came out of those conversations.

Comedy InvAsian, a six-part live stand-up series featuring some of the country’s top Asian American comedians as well as talented newcomers, each performing one-hour specials. Our first season includes Paul Kim, Atsuko Okatsuka, Kevin Yee, Joey Guila, Robin Tran and Amy Hill.

I decided to ask them all 8 questions. Finally, the last comedian is Atsuko Okatsuka. Here is a a short bio and a video of her work:

Atsuko Okatsuka is a standup comedian, actress, and filmmaker. She is the co-founder of Dis/orient/ed Comedy, the first ever all Asian, mostly female standup comedy tour. She has performed on Comedy Central Presents: Stand Up, Asia! and opened for Margaret Cho at The famous Wiltern in Los Angeles.

1. On a scale from 1 to 5, how would you rate your childhood and why? (With 1 being the perfect All-American childhood and 5 being completely and utterly traumatized.)

I’d rate my childhood at a 4 because while it wasn’t completely traumatizing, I did move to the States without my knowledge that we were staying here.  My grandma told me we were coming to the States for a 2 month vacation and then we overstayed our Visa.  So there was that.  And also, my mom’s schizophrenia made life a wee bit difficult to navigate at a  young age.  But hey, I’m now an American citizen.  Just in time for what’s his name to be President.  What a blessing.

2. Tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to be a comedian/actor.

I used to jump on opportunities to break awkward silences or tensions in rooms, particularly during tense family gatherings.  If I was able to make even one person at the table break out into a smile or laughter, I felt that I was doing my job as a sort of mediator.  So at a young age, I knew there was joy in wanting to be some sort of funny person/performer.

3. How did your parents react?

My grandma who raised me is supportive for the most part.  For her though, the ideal situation is that I continue having gigs like my community college or high school teaching jobs while I continue doing comedy and performing “on the side.”  My mom too.  But, as I continue to perform at bigger venues and receive bigger opportunities (i.e. Comedy Central taping, being written up in LA Weekly, etc.), they approve more and more of me doing comedy.  Family reactions are very predictable… yet we’re trained to be scared & surprised when they feel disappointed.  Haha.

4. If you weren’t a comedian/actor, what would you have been?

Wow I really don’t know.  A motivational speaker?  But a funny one.

5. How funny are you in real life?

I’m silly.  This feels like a trick question but if you’re asking if I make people laugh in real life, yes.  I live for it.

6. This isn’t a question, but a statement. Make me laugh.

When I told my mom I was doing an hour of stand up, she was like “AN HOUR?? Are you going to talk about me?”

And I was like “Yeah mom.  And… a  lot of other stuff.”

Then she was like “Oh good, good.  So you’re not going to talk about me for a whole HOUR.”

And I was like “Oh, no, mom.  That’s– only in therapy.”

7. Tell us about your worst troll or heckler and how you responded.

I only had someone start responding to my rhetorical questions and thoughts while I was on stage out loud during the show.  To which I stopped while I was saying and told him, “I’m so sorry sir, but you’re not on the line up tonight.”

8. What advice would you give to young Asian American comedians/actors?

This is our time!  Get out there.  And if you’re pursuing comedy, I’d love to sit down and talk you through it or help you in any way I can.

Atsuko will be performing on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Japanese American National Museum. Click here to buy tickets.

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

Actors John Cho (pictured) and Leslie Mann will host the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on Saturday, February 11, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.

Actors John Cho (pictured) and Leslie Mann will host the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on Saturday, February 11, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.

Actors John Cho and Leslie Mann will host the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on Saturday, February 11, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. They will present 18 awards to 34 individual recipients, as well as five organizations, during the evening.

“We’re so excited to have John and Leslie join us as hosts for this year’s Scientific and Technical Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “It’s one of our favorite, and most talked about, events each Oscar® season, and John and Leslie’s humor and refreshing take on the honorees will be a perfect addition to a night where we celebrate our colleagues’ groundbreaking scientific and technical achievements.”

Cho most recently starred in the summer blockbuster “Star Trek Beyond.” His other credits include “Grandma,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and “American Pie.” He also appeared in the 1999 Best Picture Oscar winner “American Beauty.”

Mann can currently be seen starring alongside Robert De Niro in Taylor Hackford’s “The Comedian.” Her feature film credits include “How to Be Single,” “The Other Woman,” “This Is 40” and “Knocked Up,” as well as the animated features “Rio 2” and the Oscar-nominated “ParaNorman.”

Portions of the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation will be included in the Oscar telecast.

The 89th Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.

comedyinvasianfeb24

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to produce a one hour special for the super talented Dwayne Perkins called Take Notes. (If you want to check it out, it’s on Netflix). It was a fun and great project to work on. That’s why when director/producer Quentin Lee and I were trying to figure out our next project, doing a stand up series featuring Asian Americans made sense. Comedy InvAsian is what came out of those conversations.

Comedy InvAsian, a six-part live stand-up series featuring some of the country’s top Asian American comedians as well as talented newcomers, each performing one-hour specials. Our first season includes Paul Kim, Atsuko Okatsuka, Kevin Yee, Joey Guila, Robin Tran and Amy Hill.

I decided to ask them all 8 questions. Next up is, Joey Guila.

Here is a quick bio and video:

Joey Guila has been featured on VH1, G4 Tech TV, Showtime and was the headliner on The Filipino Kingz Tour. In 2003 he won the regional “Kings Of Comedy Search” competition. Joey also has hosted two TV shows on Myx TV called That’s My Jam & Myx Rated which won a Telly Award.

1. On a scale from 1 to 5, how would you rate your childhood and why? (With 1 being the perfect All-American childhood and 5 being completely and utterly traumatized.)

I would rate my childhood a 2, almost perfect except my Pop was a Playa! Growing up in the 70’s was amazing, I miss eating Chicken Adobo and watching Soul Train.

2. Tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to be a comedian.

When I was 23 I was diagnosed with cancer, while going through treatment I used to watch stand-up comedy and remember how great I felt by just laughing. I told myself when I’m healthy and in remission I would love to pursue comedy and spread healing laughter.

3. How did your parents react?

My Mom was very supportive, she was happy to see me doing what I love. My Dad was like…. you sure you want to be a comedian and not a playa?

4. If you weren’t a comedian/actor, what would you have been?

Probably a chef, I believe food prepared with love is another way of connecting with people.

5. How funny are you in real life?

I enjoy bringing a lil bit of laughter with me where ever I go, to brighten up a stranger’s day is what I love. My fiance calls it flirting when I’m joking with the ladies at Starbucks, but then says its a blessing when we get a free Latte. I guess you can call me the Barista Mac Daddy.

6. This isn’t a question, but a statement. Make me laugh.

Google “Dry Hump”

7. Tell us about your worst troll or heckler and how you responded.

I was asked to donate my time to perform at a hospital, but when I got to the lobby there were four rows of senior citizens and a microphone. They thought they were there for a diabetes support group. The coordinator said, “Today we have a better treat for you, we have Joey.” All I heard was an angry old man yelling, “Who da hell is Joey”… and without thinking I said “Yo Mama.” I felt bad, I gave him a hug after the show and we shared a donut on the down low.

8. What advice would you give to young Asian American comedians?

I would ask them why they wanted to be a comedian or an actor, and if I heard the word “passion” or “happiness” in the answer I would just say continue to do what you love.

Joey will be performing on Friday, February 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Japanese American National Museum. Click here to buy tickets.

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 16: “A Dr. Ken Valentine’s Day”
Original airdate February 3, 2017.

SUZY NAKAMURA, ALBERT TSAINight fever, night fever

Ken is relieved to learn Allison doesn’t want to do anything for Valentine’s Day, but she has second thoughts when she sees Dave going to great lengths to make it a special evening for his girlfriend.  Ken forgets to do his part in Clark’s romantic scavenger hunt for Connor.  Pat scores a date with Megan, the woman he lied to about being Dave’s adopted father (episode 9).  Damona and Eric have dinner at the same restaurant as Pat and Megan, causing Damona some stress because Eric doesn’t know about her relationship with Pat.  Molly and Jae are determined to treat Valentine’s Day like any other day because they’re too cool to participate in the “corporate holiday.”

We know how to do it

This is the odd episode with interesting stories but disappointing results.  Funny stuff isn’t very funny.  Cute stuff isn’t very creative, and resolutions are terrible.  I still can’t stand Jae, but now I can’t stand Emily (Dave’s girlfriend, played by Ken Jeong’s real-life daughter) either.   I decided some time ago that I won’t hold a sitcom episode’s tag against it, but this week’s is truly horrible.  Was it written by middle-schoolers?  I don’t care how close your family is; you don’t squeeze six of you onto a couch when other seats are available.

TISHA CAMPBELL MARTIN, DAVE FOLEY, JERRY MINORGimme that night fever, night fever

Dave Foley and Suzy Nakamura act the heck out of their poorly written parts, and Ken Jeong gets to be mostly a supporting actor, when he is consistently his best.  Pat’s “Really?  In the realm of all possible Valentine’s Days, this did occur to me” is the best line in the episode.

We know how to show it

I have to say this thing had some promise.  I like the way it used one theme to connect several, separate, overlapping stories.  I also like it when Ken tells Molly that “We already paid our dues; we earned our apathy, young lady.  You haven’t!” because this Gen-X-Millennial difference is subtext not enough sitcoms make decent use of — Ken could be talking about a lot of things here.  So the process is admirable while the product is lacking.  2.5 of 5 latex gloves.

Lunar New Year Celebration Presents New ‘Hurry Home’ Presentation, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Food and Entertainment, plus Disney Magic at Disney California Adventure Park

LUNAR NEW YEAR ENTERTAINMENT Ð Guests will celebrate and experience Asian culture with colorful live performances from various performing groups. This year's Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure Park is expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

LUNAR NEW YEAR ENTERTAINMENT Ð Guests will celebrate and experience Asian culture with colorful live performances from various performing groups. This year’s Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure Park is expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mulan and Mushu will join guests for a bigger-than-ever Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure Park, from Friday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. This joyous celebration for the Year of the Rooster expands to 17 days, with colorful live performances, fun-filled activities, beautiful decor, Disney characters in their Lunar New Year costumes, and special food and merchandise offerings.

Guests at the Lunar New Year celebration will discover new Disney magic as they experience Chinese and Vietnamese cultures through a variety of live performances, including Chinese acrobats and authentic musicians. Each night prior to “World of Color,” a new feature called “Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration” will tell the tale of a journey home for Lunar New Year. The six-minute feature is presented in sequences, utilizing projected animation along with the lighting, special effects and powerful fountains of “World of Color.”

As “Hurry Home” unfolds, guests follow along on the journey of a Little Lantern returning home for the annual celebration of good luck and fortune. Little Lantern encounters three “dream sequences,” featuring appearances by Mulan and the dragon Mushu. “Hurry Home” employs two contrasting animation styles, with fully rendered CG animation and sequences inspired by traditional Chinese paper cut-out style animation. The story is scored with music created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort by Academy Award- winning composer Tan Dun (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).

LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION Ð Guests will celebrate Lunar New Year with the new, six-minute feature called ÒHurry Home Ð Lunar New Year CelebrationÓ presented before ÒWorld of ColorÓ at Disney California Adventure Park. The heartwarming nighttime water show follows the journey of a Little Lantern returning home for the annual celebration, and features appearances by Mulan and Mushu. This year's Lunar New Year festivities are expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland)

LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION Ð Guests will celebrate Lunar New Year with the new, six-minute feature called ÒHurry Home Ð Lunar New Year CelebrationÓ presented before ÒWorld of ColorÓ at Disney California Adventure Park. The heartwarming nighttime water show follows the journey of a Little Lantern returning home for the annual celebration, and features appearances by Mulan and Mushu. This year’s Lunar New Year festivities are expanded for 17 days from Friday, Jan. 20 through Sunday Feb. 5, 2017, and pays tribute to the Year of the Rooster. (Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland)

Lunar New Year, traditionally celebrated within Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, commemorates the moment when both the sun and the moon begin their journey for another year. Highlights of the Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure include:

  • Three locations within the Lunar New Year Marketplace offering foods inspired by the cultures of China (Pork Soup Dumplings, Turnip Cakes with Spicy Sausage), Korea (Kimchi Fried Rice, Steamed Vegetable Dumpling) and Vietnam (Sticky Rice Cake with Pork, Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer)
  • Additional Lunar New Year menu items at Paradise Garden Grill, including Vegetable Japchae, Kalbi Beef Short Ribs with Steamed Rice, Whole Crispy Tilapia with Citrus Chile Vinaigrette, Beef Pho Noodle Soup, Mango Pudding and Cassava Coconut Cake.
  • Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Chip ‘n Dale, Mulan and Mushu, dressed in their Lunar New Year attire, will welcome guests to a beautiful photo location with a Lunar New Year-themed setting and Happy Lunar New Year banners in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.
  • Live performances by an array of authentic performers, including Chinese concert musician Jie Ma performing on the traditional pipa string instrument, and Vietnamese concert guitarist, composer and teacher Dat Nguyen.
  • The Acrobats of China perform an exciting mix of traditional and classic Chinese dance with human performance art including riveting feats of strength, grace and balance. This award-winning troupe showcases a cultural art form that has been thrilling audiences for more than 2,500 years.
  • “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession” – Mulan and her dragon friend Mushu welcome the Year of the Rooster with a colorful and exciting procession of beautiful Chinese umbrella dancers and other delightful performers who arrive to music from Disney’s beloved animated film “Mulan.”
  • Lucky Wishing Wall, where guests may add their own wishes for a wonderful future
    Lunar New Year décor, including beautiful ornamental lanterns and banners wishing guests a Happy Lunar New Year in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese
    Lunar New Year commemorative merchandise, including a specially designed t-shirt, pin, decorative trinket box and traditional red envelopes for gift-giving.

For a limited time only, Disneyland Resort guests may celebrate the tradition, sights, sounds and tastes of Lunar New Year with a touch of Disney magic, only at Disney California Adventure. Guests may check for daily entertainment schedules as they become available, at www.Disneyland.com/LunarNewYear

The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprising unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club units; the magical, 973-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” theme. For information on attractions and vacations at the Disneyland Resort, visit Disneyland.com, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents. Located in Anaheim, Calif., the Disneyland Resort opened July 17, 1955. Open daily, year- round.

comedyinvasianfeb26

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to produce a one hour special for the super talented Dwayne Perkins called Take Notes. (If you want to check it out, it’s on Netflix). It was a fun and great project to work on. That’s why when director/producer Quentin Lee and I were trying to figure out our next project, doing a stand up series featuring Asian Americans made sense. Comedy InvAsian is what came out of those conversations.

Comedy InvAsian, a six-part live stand-up series featuring some of the country’s top Asian American comedians as well as talented newcomers, each performing one-hour specials. Our first season includes Paul Kim, Atsuko Okatsuka, Kevin Yee, Joey Guila, Robin Tran and Amy Hill.

I decided to ask them all 8 questions. Next up is, Amy Hill.

Here is a quick bio and video:

Amy Hill’s television and film credits number over 150. She is recently recurring on “Crazy Ex Girlfriend”, “UnReal” and “The Great Indoors”.  She’s a regular on Amazon Prime’s “Just Add Magic” which is currently streaming the first season and is set to release seasons 2 and 3 early next year.

1. On a scale from 1 to 5, how would you rate your childhood and why? (With 1 being the perfect All-American childhood and 5 being completely and utterly traumatized.)

In the midst of my childhood, I thought it was HORRIBLE.  My mom was an immigrant Japanese war bride with thick accent who insisted on putting Japanese food in my lunch.  I went to an all-white elementary school with a white collar population.  My dad was blue collar Finnish American with a mid-western Finn attitude and accent who struggled to keep a job.  We were super poor and I was shunned by most kids and disliked by some teachers due to the my mixed heritage.  As I grew older and learned how the others lived, my parents and my family was closer to being All-American than any of the others. Thus, I give my childhood a “1”.

2. Tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to be a comedian/actor.

After moving to San Francisco to study theater, it was the heyday of improv and sketch comedy and I fell in love with it.

3. How did your parents react?

My parents were always supportive.  I think they were concerned that we might not succeed in life, being biracial, so whatever we did was great.

4. If you weren’t a comedian/actor, what would you have been?

A drama queen?

5. How funny are you in real life?

I think I’m funnier in real life because life is so hard!!

6. This isn’t a question, but a statement. Make me laugh.

 I don’t do stand up.

7. Tell us about your worst troll or heckler and how you responded.

I don’t do stand up.  I’m going to heckled??  Nobody told me!!!

8. What advice would you give to young Asian American comedians/actors?

Don’t do stand up, you’ll apparently be heckled!!

Amy will be performing on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Japanese American National Museum. Click here to buy tickets.

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

Robert Kang

Robert Kang

The community is invited to a discussion on “What role can we play in fighting hate online?” sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League’s Asian Jewish Initiative and NextGen Community on Wednesday, February 15, at Google, 340 Main St. in Venice, at 7 p.m. There will be a NextGen-hosted happy hour following the program.

Speakers include Brittan Heller, ADL’s first Director of Technology and Society, and Robert Kang, Cyber Security Counsel and lecturer.

The ADL Asian Jewish Initiative is a partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Japanese American National Museum, Korean American Coalition, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, and Search to Involve Pilipino Americans.

The ADL NextGen community introduces ADL’s mission, policies and initiatives to new, youthful audiences and emerging community leaders.

Admission is free but pre-registration is required at:
this form or email [email protected]. Call 310-446-4232 with questions.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is one of the nation’s premier human relations and civil rights agencies and is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defending democratic ideals, and protecting civil rights for all.