Are you ready to laugh?
Bowen Yang’s recent casting on Saturday Night Live kicked off a flurry of discussion about the growing visibility and prominence of Asian North-Americans in Western media, particularly in comedy.
In light of this, we want to give our readers a head start on getting to know more up-and-coming Asian comedians across North America.
This lawyer-turned-comedian originally hails from Singapore but when she’s not touring across North America, she’s performing in New York. She made her television debut on AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live and has the privilege of being Warner Music Singapore’s first ever non-music artist. Her dry, quirky quips have landed her appearances on the Howard Stern Channel of Sirius XM and MTV.
Another example of a popular Chicago-based comedian is Jerry Tran. He’s appeared at the Cape Fear Comedy Festival in Wilmington, the Stand Up Showdown at the MI’s Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, and the NBC Second City Break Out Comedy Festival. He also co-founded and produces the independent showcase Tuxedo Cat Comedy.
Tran’s comedy explores his identity as a bi-racial man, while his meticulously crafted jokes and endearing stage presence makes him a crowd favourite.
While Karen Chee may come as a less familiar name in this list, this Brooklyn-based writer is no stranger to comedy. She performs stand-up around town, is part of the sketch group Lo-Fi, and co-host monthly shows at Union Hall and Caveat.
Her writing accolades include NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, the 2019 Golden Globe Awards, The New Yorker, and Comedy Central’s upcoming late-night show Reductress.
Yumi Nagashima is an up-and-coming Vancouver-based comedian who has made waves in the North American comedy scene not only with her sassy stage presence, but also her diverse profile of work. This Japanese-Canadian comic and actress has been featured as a part of Just For Laughs North West, and has also been on the CBC radio program The Debaters and HBO’s alternate history television series The Man in the High Castle.
She also boasts a handful of viral YouTube clips showcasing her bold, unabashed style and exploration of themes like Japanese culture and immigrant stereotypes.
Prateek Srivastava is a nationally touring comedian based out of Chicago whose recent work includes the sketch shows OKSTUPID and Little Me Little You at Second City. His work, which has landed him on stages such as Zanies Comedy Club and Laugh Factory, also includes producing the South Asian stand-up comedy collective, Simmer Brown Comedy, which has received attention from the Aerogram, DESITALK, and Margaret Cho.
When he’s not on stage, you can find him writing for “P.O.V.,” a sketch comedy show directed by Michael McCarthy, and contributing to the National Lampoon’s Podcast.
This Midwest gal put together her first sold-out stand-up showcase in March 2018, and has been working hard juggling a full-time job and stand-up comedy ever since. She has performed at Lady Laughs Comedy Festival and Diverse AF Festival, and is a producer of Funny Little Liars at Laugh Factory Chicago. Find her in the upcoming web series Pre-Existing or in-person at the Comedy Clubhouse.
Catch this Chicago-based comedian and writer at festivals all over the Midwest – including at The Chicago Improv Festival, The Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, Chicago Sketchfest, and the Detroit Improv Festival. Kim is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory and was a featured performer in the 2017 NBC Universal Break Out Festival.
When she’s not performing comedy, she also co-hosts The Ajumma Podcast (@AjummaShow) with fellow Chicago comedian, Peter Kim, and writes for Cards Against Humanity.
Keeping with the theme of the x-turned-comedian, Joe Vu abandoned his career in advertising to perform comedy across Canada. After placing as the runner-up in the Toronto Comedy Brawl, he went on to perform at The Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Just for Laughs Festival, and on CBC’s radio comedy show The Debaters.
Despite not being a household name, his routine offers an entertaining, thoughtful, and refreshing Southeast Asian twist within the Asian comedy scene.
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