"Any Netflix and Chill? YouTube and Hang? Like, if it’s finals week, maybe just Vine and a Fingerbang?”
In the midst of Econ majors and anxious pre-med students, you wouldn’t think that comedy would be prevalent at a place where “fun comes to die.” But last Wednesday night, quips like Ceda Xiong's had the audience in FXK Theater roaring with laughter.
An alumna of the College, Xiong (A.B. ’05) is a member of the all-female Asian American stand-up group Disoriented Comedy, which addresses diverse topics such as race, sexuality, and gender through humor. For the on-campus show, Xiong was joined by comedienne and Disoriented founding member Jenny Yang, whose videos have been featured on Buzzfeed.
PanAsia, the RSO dedicated to promoting pan-Asian and Asian-Pacific Islander culture, invited the group to campus for a night of comedy.
To kick off the evening, third-year Albert Nam, a member of Off-Off Campus, performed a comedy routine about his East Asian family—specifically the beliefs of his mother and father.
“My mom swears by red ginseng; it’ll cure cancer and make you really hot. The only television shows that she watches are these Asian health shows that will tell you that this will cure cancer and that this will also cure cancer. And so there are just so many things that cure cancer that we don’t know about because we don’t watch these shows, but my mom does.”
Next was stand-up from Prateek Srivastava, a member of the stand-up comedy group Simmer Brown, based in downtown Chicago. He gave a brief rundown of his Indian parents and life.
“My name is Prateek Srivastava, a very traditional Indian name, given to me by my Indian parents… Nick and Sheila. What the fuck happened there? I did a show recently where the host mispronounced my name; the struggle is real. I spent 20 minutes training the host how to say my name and then finally, the host says: ‘ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Petit Sriracha!”
Xiong took the mic after Srivastava. She addressed gentrification in Wicker Park and, upon asking about life at the university, ultimately concluded that “there is no sex at U of C! So things have not changed!” She shared stories of her post-graduate life living in Chicago and LA and was always prepared to make fun of her Chinese heritage and the stereotypes that accompany it. “I got so offended when people would ask me where I was from that I forgot that I was born in China,” she quipped.
Last up was Yang, who talked about body image and her life as a “political Asian” at Swarthmore College, her alma mater. She brought up topics such as Tinder and asserted that, too often, “we [Asians] have opinions but we don’t say anything.”
In the Q&A after the show, Yang talked about her ambitions and why she left her political career for comedy: “I got the fuck out—I thought life was too short and people said I was funny. I tried it and thought ‘this shit is scary as fuck,’ which means I’ll grow. And then I did it.”
In a world where Asian comedians are underrepresented, Disoriented Comedy is paving the way for more people of color to pursue comedy.