It’s not the Asian American Comedy Festival, it’s the Comedy Comedy Festival

The Comedy Festival, which takes place Thursday through Sunday in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo neighborhood, is an Asian-American comedy festival, with a lineup of over 100 Asian-origin comics. But you wouldn’t know it from the name of the event: the Comedy Comedy Festival.

Putting an element of racial identity in the title of the event was out of the question for festival organizers, who believed that a label – and all the perceptions that came with it – was unnecessary and limited their brand of funny. .

“We wanted to give our festival the most universal and generic name possible because we just wanted to center our experience without having to call it the Asian American Comedy Festival,” said co-organizer Jenny Yang. “Because we are tired of being ‘other’. “

Richard Linklater called his 2014 Oscar nominated film “Boyhood”, not “White Boy From Texas Boyhood”. So why, she asked, can’t the organizers of Comedy Comedy claim a similar “universal” name?

The festival grew out of the need to create a comfortable space within comedy for people of color, LGBT people and others who often find themselves as punchlines, not performers.

Yang, who was born in Taiwan, recalls being singled out on a show where a comedian joked about fortune cookies and sex with Asian women. And then there was Chris Rock, who, as the host of this year’s Oscars, brought three Asian kids on stage as accountants for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable being singled out in a mainstream comedy club, maybe you come to our show and you’ll feel less anxiety,” Yang said. “We’re not going to guarantee that we won’t offend you. Honestly, we don’t know, but… ”

D’Lo, one of the co-organizers, intervened: “It’s a comedy that you to want forthcoming. You will not only laugh, but you will think a little.

The Comedy Comedy Festival, now in its second year, is a four-day gathering of Asian-American creators – comics, actors, writers and Youtubers who fill the lists of about 15 shows.. “Fresh Off the Boat” star Randall Park and “Meet the Patels” director and actor Ravi Patel will be matched with lesser-known talents such as “Daily Beast” reporter Jen Yamato and India-born and raised comedian. in Bangkok. Siouxnanda.

The event is led by Yang, D’Lo and Atsuko Okatsuka, leaders of the Disoriented Comedy group. (The name is also “the very first [mostly] Asian American female stand-up comedy tour, ”which travels the country.) Their goal with Comedy Comedy, as with their cast, is to define and redefine: comedy, Asian American identity and , possibly, Hollywood.

“I would like to think our kind of comedy is one where we have a social conscience,” Yang said.

The Comedy Festival which takes place Thursday through Sunday in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles is an Asian-American comedy festival with a lineup of over 100 Asian-origin comics. You probably wouldn’t know from the name of the event: the Come

Rather than making fun of people who are different, she said, “we care about social justice issues.” If a comedian wants to play a joke about Asians, let him be at least Asian, she said.

“If we want to make fun of people like us, then let’s do it,” she said. “You are tired of being other people’s punchline. “

The comedy scene, dominated by straight white males, Okatsuka said, leads to an overall point of view that is “super masculine” and filled with people from a narrow slice of life. While that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, she says, she personally felt lonely and out of place. The goal of people like her and her Disoriented Comedy co-founder Yola Lu: to create a community for all people “who have always felt left out”.

They also intend to have representation from all over Asia and to remind mass culture that “Asian Americans” is not a monolithic bloc.

For Okatsuka, Yang and D’Lo, a transgender actor and writer of Sri Lankan Tamil descent, the image of the diversity they want the wider Hollywood community to see isn’t Scarlett Johansson playing Motoko Kusanagi in the next “Ghost in the Shell” or Matt Damon saving China in next year’s “The Great Wall”. When such casting decisions were announced earlier this year, online communities – perhaps emboldened by the way April Reign’s hashtag #OscarsSoWhite resonated with the film’s academy – reacted strongly.

“More and more we’re seeing how our community really stands,” D’Lo said.

Some of the Asian-American celebrities who have spoken out on diversity in the industry include Margaret Cho, Park and her “Fresh Off the Boat” co-star Constance Wu, all of whom are Comedy Comedy supporters. Wu and Park expressed hope that such events could be a game-changer.

“The TV movie industry can often be a working club with your friends, leading to a general ignorance of the abundance of extremely talented Asian Americans,” Wu said via email. “Comedy festivals like this are important because they showcase talent in a way that is not dependent on friendships or financial issues with the studio.”

Comedy festivals like this are important because they showcase talent in a way that isn’t dependent on friendships or financial issues with the studios.

Constance wu

Park agreed, citing Comedy Comedy as a step towards a future with “more Asian American stars in TV shows and movies, more Asian American writers and directors doing things on a grand scale. , more Internet content creators moving to that next level, “he said. said by email.

Yang sees the festival as a potential launching pad for attendees to gain experience and visibility, a constant concern expressed by studio executives.

“Lord, give me the trust of a mediocre white man,” she said, citing a refrain by writer Sarah Hagi that has become a mantra for many women of color. “I think we just need the luck a typical mediocre white man has.”

“Because the content is certainly not mediocre,” D’Lo interrupted.

“And even if it does, who cares? Yang said. “Because everyone has a chance except us sometimes. “

For now, the Comedy Comedy Festival is their self-created racing debut.


The Comedy Festival

Or: Japanese-American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles

When: from thursday to sunday

Cost: $ 10 and more


Get your life! Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.


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