Jenny Yang, Kollaboration Star 2014 co-host, talks Asian American activism, comedy, sexuality, and more

Jenny Yang is a comic, writer, and the producer of the Disoriented Comedy tour. She shared with Kollaboration her thoughts on being an Asian American woman in comedy, sexuality, how Asian Americans can pair arts and entertainment with activism, and more.

On audience reception to the Disoriented Comedy tour, and why she decided to start the tour:

“Honestly, how often do you get to see a bunch of Asian American comics on stage, right? …Old institutions just don’t handle us anymore. If we want to do things our way, we have to create our own thing. …Most of the people who come to our shows, who are mostly Asian American and younger, they wouldn’t typically go to a mainstream comedy club.”

“People who are down to be on stage or do visual arts or write plays: we are trying to create a forum for ourselves.”

On roadblocks Asian Americans face to being more involved advocates about sexuality and gender:

“When you’re an Asian American kid, and maybe you’re an immigrant or a kid of immigrants, sex doesn’t exist, much less sexuality. We have to fend for ourselves as young people to figure out what anything is.”

On how Asian Americans can use their art to challenge stereotypes:

“To me, it’s completely subversive just to exist as a woman or an Asian American in stand-up comedy with a microphone in a position of power. …People who are down to be on stage or do visual arts or write plays: we are trying to create a forum for ourselves. 

Whenever you see mainstream media or entertainment news try to cover us, they don’t know what to do. When America’s Best Dance Crew happened, all of a sudden they’re like, ‘Who are all these Asians who know how to dance?’ People freak the f*ck out. When Jeremy Lin showed up, they’re like, ‘How do we talk about him?’ 

America just needs to be educated about how to talk about us with respect and dignity. We are the ones as creatives who are going to tell our story.”

Photo courtesy of Jenny Yang.