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Jenny Yang’s ‘If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say’ A Fast Online Hit

By Arturo R. García

In just four days, comedian Jenny Yang’s “If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say” has amassed more than two million views on YouTube. It helps, of course, that it’s been buoyed by being on Buzzfeed. But the video is strong on its own merits, as well; it’s a sharp successor to the “Sh*t [x] Say” realm of clips because it turns up the awkwardness.

The preview image, with Yang making her eyes “rounder” as a visibly uncomfortable white guy looks on, sets the stage for her and co-star Eugene Yang’s antics, set to “Home On The Range,” inflicting a barrage of microaggressions at their companions. (“Do you have a normal name, too? Or just your white name?”)

“I just love dating white guys,” she tells one guy. “Because they’re so large and overbearing.” In another “romantic” scene, Eugene smoothly tells a white woman, “You know, I’m really into white girls. Just white girls,” only to protest, “Where you going?” as she runs.

Yang is also co-host of the Angry Asian America webseries on ISA with Phil Yu (aka AngryAsianMan) and co-produces the Asian-American comedy showcase Dis/orient/ed project, which is playing Los Angeles on July 12. Yang shared the origin of the group with Bitch Magazine last fall:

Well, when you first start out as a standup, at least for me, it feels very solitary. And so what I realized is that if I didn’t organize something with like-minded people, I wouldn’t find those people, because we’re just grinding it out on our own.

And so after I had been doing it for about a year, I had noticed the different Asian-American female comics as well as female comics and comics of color who were out doing things. So actually I had a lot of camaraderie with white female comics, but I definitely made note of when there were Asian-American female comics. So much so that I found an article about a woman named Yola Lu. Yola had just graduated from the University of Washington and was just starting out doing standup comedy, and there was this coverage of her. I was like, “Oh, this sounds like someone I want to meet.” And I literally just Google stalked her, and found her, and she was super cool, and I was like, “Hey, I just want to know what you’re doing, because I’m doing it.” And we actually ended up doing a little Skype date just to get to know one another. And we hit it off! And just half-joking at the end of that Skype chat, we were like, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if we had enough critical mass of Asian-American female comics that we could do a whole tour of just us?” Like, someday, someday.

A few months later, she emailed me and she was like, “Jenny, remember how you were saying about that tour? I kept on thinking about it and I feel like we should just do it.” She instigated it, and we sat down and really thought about what it would look like. Then we recuited a good buddy of mine in LA, Atsuko Okatsuka. That created the initial trio of us who founded the tour.

Yang also shared more of her story in this clip from The Always Summer Project:

“I got to a point where I realized, in my professional career, in politics, which is my main career, it wasn’t really fulfilling me as much,” she said. “I kind of had this moment of like, ‘I’m a writer. I’m a performer. I need to take myself seriously, rather than dismiss it.’”

  • Andre

    A few of these things I saw myself happening and the problem is that all of the people involved were thought of and thought themselves as progressive. A coworker of mine in such situations would always say “Asians”, when I ask her to be more specific I only get an annoyed stare, and speak about “Asian” culture (a fan of Keanu Reeves in that awful Ronin movie did something similar when defending his bland “acting”), she ones asked me whether I can tell Koreans, Japanese and Chinese apart, no idea whether she meant individually or by nationality based on looks.
    The name stuff I remember when on youtube some American asked what the “real name” of our former Vice Chancellor is and when we told he/him his name (Phillip Rössler), that person was all “Yeah I know, but what’s his real name”. We had to tell her/him it two or three times and I wonder whether that person still didn’t get it.
    The worst part was with the Cassandra Clare author, when asked what the “proper Chinese name” of her “character” Jem Carstairs was (I consider him rather the shadow of another character and a Chinese stereotype then an actual character) she say it was Ke Jian Ming (and apparently provided a weird translation of the name Jian) and that his mother might have wanted it so. Not only did she never mention that name in the books but also: Why would have have a “proper Chinese name” to begin with if she constantly states him to be biracial and half-Chinese, half-British, well to be correct she constantly switches between half-Chinese and Chinese, never British, which also makes no sense since she had him state that he is a Shadowhunter first and everything else second, plus I have no idea why his mother would ever want to give him such a name… then again what can you expect from an author who can’t even get the historical event of the attack on the Imperial Gardens in Beijing right (gosh reading that was awful).

  • http://molecularshyness.wordpress.com jen*

    I loved this so much! Especially her spreading her eyes wider, saying “I’m practically white!”

  • http://ychi.wordpress.com/ Yahong Chi

    Yay! So lovely to see these kinds of accurately satiric videos make the rounds.