Wired: It’s Time For ‘Silicon Valley’ to Disrupt Its Toxic Asian Stereotypes

Note: this discusses a little bit of the current season – so possible spoilers if you haven’t been watching.

When I saw this headline on Facebook, I wondered why no one had written about this yet. I’m a fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley, but not a fan of the character Jian-Yang. I find Jian-Yang’s accent a bit extreme and his behavior a bit too bizarre and weird. He kind of makes me feel the same way whenever I see Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles, just a little bit disgusted. I mean, at times, Jian-Yang does make me laugh, especially more recently with his “hot dog, not hot dog” app, and I think Jimmy O. Yang does a great job of handling the writing, but as the Wired article expresses:

“Meanwhile, Pakistani immigrant Dinesh spectacularly screwed up both a CEO position and a relationship—the entire point of his character is that he’ll never be as smart or as savvy as Gilfoyle. (For proof of this, look no further than their tiff on last night’s episode, which Gilfoyle won simply by maintaining that he did.) Chinese immigrant Jian-Yang is written as even less smart—his big pitch this season was a collection of eight octopus recipes—and the developer’s greatest achievement thus far has been cheating Erlich out of a year’s rent by taking advantage of a loophole meant to help the unfortunate. Dinesh and Jian-Yang might be just as brilliant as their counterparts, but Silicon Valley never shows it.

Not every white character on Silicon Valley is a genius, of course. And that’s the point. White characters can be dreamers like Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) or dumdums like Big Head (Josh Brener). But its Asian characters, who represent the quarter of Valley workers who are Asian or Asian American, are shuttled into the same little boxes society has kept for Asians for centuries. For a show that’s constantly questioning what keeps innovation and progress from happening, it should ask the same of itself.”

I’ve been living and working in Silicon Valley since August 1999, and I have never met someone who acted like Jian-Yang. And I’ve also worked for Chinese companies and worked with a lot of Asian and Asian Americans. I must admit, I don’t think I’ve met anyone like Erlich or Gilfoyle, but at least those characters are not, I believe, based on any racial stereotypes.

After writing this post, I did a comment regarding the Wired article from a Facebook friend of mine who said:

“My boyfriend is friends with Jimmy O. Yang and Jimmy O. Yang came up with the Jian Yang character on his own. His character reminds me of my former roommate who was straight up from China. She used to smoke in her room, make stinky Chinese dishes with dried octopus and rarely washed her dishes.. it’s a stereotype that, at least to me, hits close to home and is pretty accurate to my life experience.”

So it’s interesting to hear that Yang came up with the character. Yang came over to the U.S. from Hong Kong when he was 13. Maybe he’s not as familiar or as offended to a Long Duk Dong character (well, Jian-Yang isn’t that bad). Still, not a big fan of the character and hope Jian-Yang evolves as the show progresses.

For the most part, I think Dinesh’s character has been treated fairly, except for the fact that Gilfoyle often antagonizes Dinesh for not having a girlfriend or friends (except that he does in Season 3 for part of the season). However, I was really disappointed to see that Dinesh wasn’t CEO of Pied Piper for more than an episode – I really liked seeing the cocky, arrogant, self-assured – should I say, white-washed Dinesh being portrayed.

I don’t know how many more seasons Silicon Valley can go for (it’s been renewed for it’s fourth season already), but I really do hope that the show can develop Jian-Yang into a more realistic, but also still funny character.

8Questions: Comedy InvAsian with Atsuko Okatsuka

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

8Questions: Comedy InvAsian with Joey Guila

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

8Questions: Comedy InvAsian with Amy Hill

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

8Questions: Comedy InvAsian with Robin Tran

comedyinvasianfeb25

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 Robin Tran.

Here is a quick bio and video:

Robin Tran came out as a transgender woman in 2015 and has been writing about her experiences ever since. Based out of Orange County, Robin has performed all over Southern California, and she has won first place in three separate comedy competitions.  In 2016, she released a self-funded half-hour comedy special on YouTube entitled “Santa Doesn’t Like Every Kid.”

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.)

A 4. My dad was (is?) an alcoholic. My mom suffered from undiagnosed depression (until the past few years). My sister constantly berated and abused me. My earliest memories are eight people living in a tiny two-bedroom apartment (my parents, sister, me, aunt, uncle, and two cousins) and I had to share a crib with my cousin. We lived in poverty. My dad constantly threatened to leave the family. Etc. You get the idea.

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

I was watching Chris Rock’s “Bigger & Blacker” and it was the most inspiring thing I’d ever seen. The special that made me feel like I can actually *do* stand-up comedy though was Louis CK’s “Shameless” from 2006.

3. How did your parents react?

They told me that it was a good hobby but eventually I’d have to quit and find a new job. They held this mindset until that NBC News article came out about Comedy InvAsian. Now they don’t want me to work anymore and think that I’m going to be famous. (Actually, they already think I’m famous, but I don’t have the heart to break it to them that I’m so not.)

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

Either a men’s rights activist or dead lol.

5. How funny are you in real life?

I’m very funny in small groups of 2-4 people. Very shy in groups of 5 or more people.

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

I used to wear a fedora in college because I really wanted to excel as a straight white guy but I ended up being none of those three things.

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

Some guy was just muttering angrily under his breath during my set and said “BRUCE” a couple of times (referring to Caitlyn Jenner) and I said “how does it feel that half of the country wants me dead and I still have more friends than you do?”

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

Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. Representation is increasing. Watch shows like Fresh off the Boat to be inspired. Also, you’re unique, so always remember that. A lot of people will give you advice as to the *one way* there is to make it. “Get up this many times a week.” “Don’t do this or that or you’ll burn bridges.” All I can say is, figure out how to “make it” your own way, because everybody has a different road, and everybody has different goals/destinations. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to impress your comedian friends. Branch out outside of your local community. Use the Internet and social media to increase your following. And lastly, take a break when you need to.

Robin will be performing on Saturday, February  25, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Japanese American National Museum. Click here to buy tickets.

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

8Questions: Comedy InvAsian with Paul PK Kim

comedyinvasianfeb10

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 is, Paul PK Kim.

Here is a quick bio and video:

Paul “PK” Kim (PK stand for Paul Kim and Preacher’s Kid) is a regular at The World Famous Laugh Factory in Hollywood. He was the Grand Prize Winner of The Uncle Clyde’s Comedy Cup at The Pasadena Icehouse sponsored by H2F Productions.

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.)

A 4. Only Asian in all majority white elementary school. Only Asian in white little league team. Really skinny kid with Sora.  Raised in extremely conservative Christian family.

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

6th grade.  Friends Cassette tape what was taboo to listen to. Eddie Murphy. Delirious.

3. How did your parents react?

They knew when they came to my Pasadena Ice House show when I was 33 and my dad past away soon after he came to the show.  They weren’t happy but they said if you’re going to do it then do it all the way.

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

Teacher

5. How funny are you in real life?

Funny with friends

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

You in a library with Will Farrell and Bobby Lee’s face.  That’s it.

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

A guy said I need more drinks. I said go get it then. It didn’t end well.

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

BE DISCIPLINED. Or you’re wasting your time. Be focused.

PK will be performing on Friday, February 10, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Japanese American National Museum. Click here to buy tickets.

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

8Questions: Comedy InvAsian with Kevin Yee

comedyinvasianfeb12

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. First up, Kevin Yee. (Who it should be noted once was in a 90’s boy band. Check out this REALLY interesting article in Cosmo).

Here is a quick bio on Kevin:
Kevin Yee and his original satirical songs have been making people laugh across America and beyond. He is a former member of Quincy Jones’s boy band Youth Asylum and toured in many Broadway productions. In addition, he has been featured in articles in The AtlanticOut, and The Guardian, and showcased at comedy festivals across the U.S.

But his bio doesn’t do justice to the unique stand-up he does. To get a glimpse, watch this video (Please note, this video is probably not be appropriate for work)

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.)

Would anyone answer 1? I’d like to meet that person. They’re probably super fucked up. I’m in the middle, a 3. I’m a product of divorce, I was super awkward, but I feel like everyone’s childhood should be a little fucked up. That’s what made me strong and gave me the ability to deal with what I deal with on a daily basis.

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

I’ve been a performer since I was a kid, first paying job was when I was six, so I can’t really say there was a specific moment where I knew I wanted to be a performer. Or if there was I was too young to remember. I was always an actor singer and dancer so it was a natural progression from it being a childhood hobby to becoming my bread and butter. Becoming a comedian was a little different though since it was more recent. I had been a Broadway actor for many years and been able to pay my bills and live well. I honestly thought I’d do that for the rest of my life, but I became really burnt out. I was doing major dance musicals eight times a week for years on end. It became more of a job than a passion and I knew it had turned into someone else’s dream. I also felt like I had gone as far as I could. I was always the chorus boy, or auditioning for the gay best friend, the Chinese takeout guy, but I was never given the lead role, never able to step into the spotlight. I was getting frustrated that I didn’t see a real place for me in the entertainment industry besides being the “diversity.” So becoming a comedian was my way of building that place for myself. I had been writing these weird songs since I was a teenager and I knew I had something fun in them, so a few years ago I sold my stuff and moved to L.A. to pursue comedy full-time.

3. How did your parents react?

My dad isn’t in my life but he was never fond of me being a performer when I was a kid. My mother is not a stage mother at all and seems to always trust me with whatever decisions I make.

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

I always wanted to be a newscaster. When I was a kid I always had a fascination with the news. I think I just like the art of crafting stories. But now the news is a little much: it’s all about the outrage and ratings. I think it would give me hives working in that environment.

5. How funny are you in real life?

I think my friends would say that I am weird and that my blunt honesty makes them laugh. I’m very much a realist. But I don’t walk around trying out jokes on unsuspecting baristas….

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

I can forward your information to my agent and you can negotiate a private concert if you want. Otherwise, I’m not on the clock. So. Sorry. Not sorry.

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

I’ve been trolled a lot online, but I usually ignore it since confrontation isn’t my thing. The only time I’ve ever been (knowingly) heckled was in a small town in Tennessee. Because I sing songs I couldn’t hear a drunk heckler at the bar yelling homophobic slurs at me over the music (and neither could the rest of the audience who were happily dancing and singing along). When the song ended I finally realized what was happening, but before I could respond some of the other local comedians had surrounded him and were forcing him to leave. The heckler’s wife was so embarrassed and was the one who finally pushed her husband out the door. It was nice that those comics had my back. It’s different than a few years ago when I would be facing that kind of hatred alone. Now people are standing up for this gay Asian, which is beautiful to finally experience.

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

I usually tell performers a lot of the obvious things like work hard, educate yourself, don’t give up etc. I get that people get famous in an instant on social media nowadays, but success is so much better when you earn it, so work for it. Be a jack-of-all-trades. Also, listen to the universe because it usually guides you if you let it. In my experience you will come across a lot of locked doors, but you just have to keep pounding or try another door. You aren’t going to be right for everything and that sucks, but then occasionally you will be and that will feel cool. And then specifically for Asians, this is maybe a weird one, be kind to your fellow Asian performers. I get that it feels like there are not as many opportunities so it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking at another Asian performer as your competition and not as your friend. “If he gets the job then I don’t”. And it’s true. I get it. I struggle with it myself. We all need to eat. But it puts us all in a weird cycle that gets us nowhere. How can we fight for the Asian community to have visibility if we’re all working individually? In my eyes the Asian performers who are truly succeeding are the ones spending their energy strengthening the community, building opportunities, and encouraging and supporting other performers. So find those Asians and join those communities and build opportunities for each other.

Kevin Yee will be performing on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 7:30 pm at the Japanese American National Museum. Click here to buy tickets.

Follow me on Twitter @ksakai1

Asian American Commercial Watch: Secret Deodorant’s Namaste

https://youtu.be/XpGo3kmD4Kk

I first saw this Secret Deodorant commercial on Facebook. I can’t saw I’ve seen it on TV. But when I saw the image:

8asians_aacw_secret

I thought it was pretty funny. As Secret states in the YouTube description of the video: “Worry about the meeting, not your pits.”

I thought it was pretty funny. I can honestly say, I’ve never used deodorant in my life. To be honest, I don’t think Asians exhibit that much body odor? [See Koji’s post “Do Asians Smell?”]

8$: ‘Rice on White,’ Asian American Sex Comedy Feature Film

8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)

8a-2016-09-25-riceonwhiteWHO: The Rice on White Team

Talun Hsu (director/producer) – Talun is a veteran of independent films. Being a writer, director and producer, Talun knows all the tricks of the trade to make things happen.
Joe Ho & Brent Tonick (writers/producers/cast) – Joe & Brent are just like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck… but more attractive. They are lifelong friends who have been writing and acting together since they were teenagers.

Eddie Mui (associate producer) – Eddie was a working actor in his hometown of Seattle performing in various main stage shows before moving to LA to focus more on television and film.

Fiona Gubelmann (cast) – Fiona is a ferociously talented actress with a long list of credits to her name both in television and film.

Jun Kim (cast) – A multilingual and multi-ethnic former stock broker, Jun Kim was born and raised in Hong Kong.

Charles Kim (cast) – A native Angeleno, Charles Kim did not start acting for paying audiences until he moved to Washington State, where he caught “the acting bug” while attending law school.

Kathy Uyen (cast) – a Vietnamese American actress, producer, and screenwriter who is best known for her leading roles in Vietnamese cinema.

Brian Drolet (cast) – an actor/comedian/writer/producer, Brian also was a cast member of season one of MTV’s smash hit “The Hills” among his extensive list of acting credits.

Cast also includes: Trieu Tran (HBO’s “The Newsroom”, “Tropic Thunder”), Sekou Andrews (“The Sea of Dreams”), Haley Cummings (Adult Film Star), Caroline Macey (episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Medium” and other shows), John Fukuda (“John Wang’s Nebraska”, “Someone I Used to Know”), Kelli McNeil (episodes of “My Crazy Ex”, “CSI” and other shows), Lynn Chen (“Saving Face”, HBO’s “Silicon Valley”), Karin Anna Cheung (“Better Luck Tomorrow”, “The People I’ve Slept With”), Cathy Shim (Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!”, Fox’s “MADtv”)

Crew includes: Rebecca Hu (line producer) (“Pretty Rosebud”), Chadwick Struck (casting director) (“Outlaws and Angels”, “Mini’s First Time”), Chia-Yu Chen (cinematographer) (Ads for “Coca Cola” and “Hugo Boss”, among others), Jessica Lee (costume designer) (Crackle’s “Sequestered”), Ellen Ho (production coordinator) (“Ktown Cowboys”, “Dilated”), Linda Chi (makeup/hair), Daren Dien (production), Ryan Fung (production)

WHAT: Kickstarter project: Rice on White – Comedy Feature Film

Whether it’s Emma Stone being cast as a quarter-Chinese, quarter-Pacific Islander character or all-American Matt Damon protecting the Great Wall of China, “whitewashing” has been a hot topic lately. We, the filmmakers of Rice on White, are huge movie fans (and big fans of Stone and Damon btw) but we also would like to see a world where Asian-Americans are fairly represented in television and cinema.

Social media outrage and online petitions can be helpful – we’ve participated in our share of both – but we thought it more constructive to be the change we want to see. Rice on White is the result. This is a hilarious mainstream romantic comedy / guy comedy in the same vein as films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up” and “American Pie” with something you don’t see every day: Asians leading the way instead of being cast as the sidekicks.

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Thursday, September 29, 2016 (12:00 AM PDT).

WHY:

There aren’t many mainstream movies with Asian Americans in lead roles or even behind the camera. We hope to change that but in order to do so we need opportunities to convince Hollywood studios that Asian American films can be successful. At the end of the day though, this is a movie, not a political statement. We think we have a funny and entertaining movie starring Asian-Americans that could be a crossover hit popular with audiences from all backgrounds.

NYC Theater Review: “Green Card: A New Musical”

GreenCardGreen Card: A New Musical takes on immigrant artists and the American dream in a new musical from young director Dimo Kim. Playing at Theatre at St. Clement’s until August 26, it focuses on the story of Han, an actor and a South Korean immigrant living in Harlem with an expired visa who, as a result, can’t find work. And because he can’t find work, he can’t get an artists visa. Hijinks ensue. Han finds himself entering a fake marriage for a green card with Mia, in exchange for a sizable sum of money. They fumble through immigration interviews and the turmoil of a new relationship, fake or not. As to how Han’s girlfriend Kim feels about it? You’ll have to watch to find out.

This is an energetic musical with young talent and carries a relevant and provocative story in need of telling.

Continue reading “NYC Theater Review: “Green Card: A New Musical””

Space Jam 3 Anime Parody Featuring Jeremy Lin

8A-2016-08-04-JeremyLin-SpaceJam3ParodyWith all kinds of grim videos out there from police shootings to cringe inducing videos about “Neenjas” and Xenophobic videos about Chinese buying American farms, this NigaHiga/Jeremy Lin collaboration really made my day. 

It pulls in some popular Anime characters and even has a quick jab at Pokemon Go! 

Note that Space Jam 2, the actual sequel to Space Jam, starring LeBron James, is said to be under production, with Justin Lin possibly directing.

Conan Korea Episode Available Online

Conan_Korea_DMZWatch episode here.

Last February 2015, comedian Conan O’Brien visited a Korean Spa in Koreantown in LA The Walking Dead actor Steve Yeun and that video of his visit was hilarious (and has gotten over 13 million YouTube views as of this writing).

Back this February (2016), Conan announced that he was going to visit Korea because a South Korean fan named Sunny Lee wrote Conan a letter because she was too busy watching clips of Conan instead of studying for the SATs and also sent a bunch of Korean snacks in the mail. Note – Conan isn’t aired in Korea, but apparently there are plenty of Conan fans vis-a-vis the Internet.

On Saturday, April 9th, Conan aired the special, titled Conan Korea, where: “Thanks to a box of snacks, Conan travels to Korea to learn the language, master Tae Kwon Do, and make some new friends, one of whom is an octopus.”

The episode was overall, fairly entertaining. I especially liked seeing the Steve Yeun segment – when Conan & Steve have a meal (where Steve barely has an idea of what they’re eating …) and also visit the North-South Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ). Also, Steve tells Conan that he’s getting married (and not to the actress who plays his girlfriend/wife on The Walking Dead).