Joe Wong’s debut on Letterman tonight

UPDATED WITH VIDEO! Boston-based comedian Joe Wong will make his network television debut tonight on Late Show with David Letterman, and many of you will be seeing him for the first time. Wong taped his set on Monday and was terrific. Which is great news, not only for Wong, but also for Eddie Brill, who books the comedians for the show (and also warms up the studio audiences) and gets credit now for giving Wong his big break. Wong, a Chinese immigrant who graduated from Rice University in Houston, would joke a lot about the clashing cultures when he emerged in the Boston comedy scene. I remember seeing Wong more than hold his own on the lineup of a charity show three years ago that wedged him between Lenny Clarke and Steven Wright. Audiences warm easily to him. Here's a quick joke from Wong:

My friend Nick Zaino talked to both Brill and Wong about how they worked together for years to get the comedian ready for his TV debut. One tip that stood out to me was how Wong has changed his facial expressions since I last saw him.

"I used to laugh or smile after my jokes," he says. "So they put a stop on that one. After that, I do the jokes with more of a straight face, and it actually works better. That's something I never noticed before he pointed it out."

Eddie Brill offers his next six-hour "intensive feedback workshop" for comedians on Saturday, April 18, at Gotham Comedy Club. There was still an opening or two for this limited day-long workshop when Brill and I chatted this morning.

UPDATED WITH BETTER VIDEO! So much to love about this clip. How Wong looks without smiling after the jokes. How he pauses between tags to allow each one to hit. How the jacket makes him look so young. How innocently he reacts after his set, wanting a quick bow and heading offstage, as if it were just another set. Great job, Joe! Will include this clip until Wong and/or CBS puts an official one up. Enjoy:

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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5 thoughts on “Joe Wong’s debut on Letterman tonight

  1. Verbal skills is not a telltale sign of English understanding. He may have an accent but his English is far from bad- no university would let you get a PHD if you have zero communication skills (mainly just writing, for research papers), it defeats the point of research and sharing knowledge… ffs he wrote for his campus newspaper and it is very likely he portray an extra heavy accent so American public can accept him better under their stereotype. However, the downside of going heavier on the accent is that sometimes his jokes are hard to follow when you do not hear it properly. Equally likely, perhaps his accent really is that heavy, and that would make a surprising discrepancy between his verbal and writing/comprehension. From his jokes, you can tell he have thorough understanding of the American culture to get laughs. My point is, if he was writing here on the net- you would not even know he is Chinese.
    In this day and age, people still change their surnames to avoid prejudice in job recruitment. I know of one famous Chinese chief who speaks with an stereotyped accent in his shows, but can actually speaks fluently in reality. Ultimately it is a stage mask, for the insecure douchebags who get scared of Chinese/or minority people speaking perfect English, the concept is just alien and confusing to them.
    I see it as a continuing tradition of paradoxical expectations of minority populations. We wish other cultures would blend in (cultural melting pot) yet we get scared because if that does happen, we cannot tell them apart when necessary. Why do we need to tell? This is because in American we like to fear monger and race in a important part of our worldview. It does not matter if someone was of what ethnic origin, acculturation matters more in terms of displaying what makes us American, the way we live, dress, eat, and speak. Scientifically speaking, race is not even a very plausible concept. Genetic variations between races are smaller than variations within any given race itself. This speaking, having lived in China for several years, I have seen Chinese people with dark skin color, beige, beige a hint of yellow, and some who are white as snow, just to name a few example (many of whom do not have slanted eyes, only a small percentage). Many new generation minorities are stuck in the middle, actively rejecting traditions, yet resisted from assimilating into mainstream society.
    I wish people understand more about cognitive biases, what constitute as evidence (random/representative sampling, not anecdotal), distributions, difference between opinion/fact, difference between correlation and causation. The world would be a better place if everyone studied research design, so people would not make brain-dead ignorant statements that provoke others.

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