Jimmy O. Yang went from Silicon Valley on HBO to Space Force on Netflix. That’s a great deal!
That’s not the Good Deal he’s talking about in his first stand-up special, though. He’s more interested in basic stereotypes and exploring his fame.
Too much of this hour, though, covers territory any comedian, Asian-American or otherwise, could crack wise about.
Namely, confronting stereotypes. Even if Yang’s childhood involved playing violin, training in ping-pong, and excelling at math, he may get cheers of recognition from his live audience, but that doesn’t mean he’s sharing anything particularly revelatory. If you received a TI-83 Plus graphing calculator as a birthday present growing up, you’d cheer, too. But that doesn’t make it any funnier. Plenty of American-born comedians have gone down the nostalgia hole for easy applause recognition over the years. There still needs to be more than a just a reference to make the jokes stand out from anyone else’s.
Yang makes a point at both beginning and end about the importance of representation onstage and onscreen by your own demographic, and how he sometimes feels more pressure to excel because of that.
And yet, he wants to have it both ways. Defensive when fans discover Yang doesn’t speak in broken English in real life, but employing a stronger stereotypical accent when he needs to take the offensive to get out of a traffic ticket. He celebrates his decision to avoid a traditional Chinese-American occupation for comedy, and wishes he could see more Asians in the NFL or beer commercials. But when he decides to act out his dream Asian beer ad, it’s so hackneyed it comes with stock Chinese musical accompaniment.
If you really want to know more about Yang, watch this. Otherwise, you’re better off going with Ronny Chieng.