Dis/orient/ed Comedy — Five Asian comedians visit Seattle in sold-out show

By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly

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From left: Dis/orient/ed coproducers Atsuko Okatsuka, Jenny Yang, and Yola Lu (Photo by Nina Huang/NWAW)

Random, hilarious, and relatable, five funny Asian women took Seattle by storm at the Renton Civic Theater last Saturday, March 16.

The brainchild of Yola Lu, Atsuko Okatsuka, and Jenny Yang, Dis/orient/ed Comedy showcases the comedic and powerful voices of Asian American comedians. Joining the crew in Seattle were Concepcion and headliner Aparna Nancherla. The tour kicked off last summer in Los Angeles and made Seattle its first out-of-California stop, performing for a sold-out crowd of 300.

The first of its kind to come to Seattle, Lu believes that Disoriented is important because it breaks down barriers, including the stereotype that women aren’t funny and that Asian women have to be in a specific line of work. She noted how difficult it is to find Asian comics outside of Los Angeles.

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Atsuko Okatsuka (Photo by Nina Huang/NWAW)

The night started with Okatsuka hosting. Born in Japan, Okatsuka came to the United States in the 3rd grade and to her dismay, teachers and classmates called her “Stacy,” because Atsuko was too foreign for them. She included nods to her former gigs as a math tutor to kids of rich Valencia soccer moms and waitress in a Japanese restaurant.

She said that her ethnicity helped her learn the basics of life and “has inevitably become a big part of who I am, and a big part of my storytelling.”

Her self-deprecating humor warmed up the crowd and prepared them for the remainder of the show.

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Mona Concepcion (Photo by Nina Huang/NWAW)

Concepcion is a Seattleite that was featured in the show. Originally from Saipan, an unincorporated territory of the United States, Concepcion described her racial experiences growing up. People would confuse her as their masseuse and often asked about her tropical upbringing. Concepcion adamantly told ignorant strangers that she always wore coconut bras, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Following Concepcion was another Seattle comic, Yola Lu, who started off her set with a joke addressing her “daddy issues,” referencing a former boyfriend who was significantly older. Her act became more and more personal and relatable, as she described how her Taiwanese mom constantly called her fat and how her aunt provided a weight loss cream to help her reduce her belly.

Lu’s co-producer, Yang, joked about how she wanted to tattoo “CHINESE TATTOO” on her arm, poking fun at people who adorn their skin with Chinese character tattoos. She also emphasized that she wanted to be remembered as the girl who rewrote a Snoop Dogg song for extra credit during her freshman year of high school.

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Yola Lu (Photo by Nina Huang/NWAW)

In addition, Yang described her vivid and traumatizing experience at a Korean spa, where she made eye contact with a naked older Korean lady.

But perhaps the highlight of Yang’s act was her oh-so-catchy and hilarious rap about her love for frozen yogurt, with lines like “I see all the toppings and I lose control” and “Like Manny Pacquiao, it can’t be beat.”

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Jenny Yang (Photo by Nina Huang/NWAW)

Nancherla was excited to join the group again after performing in LA last year.

“I think it’s just cool that if a group knows their audience and their voices, they can produce their own successful shows,” Nancherla said.

Keeping a serious and straight face throughout her act, the self-proclaimed “sassy drag queen persona” described her sense of style as the “before picture.” She also explained that she wanted to date a vending machine after it returned her money and gave her a snack.

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Aparna Nancherla (Photo by Nina Huang/NWAW)

But aside from her jokes, she said, “I hope they (the audience) realize ultimately, your identity is something you construct yourself, regardless of what the rest of society wants to put on you.”

In addition, Okatsuka wanted the audience to feel the diversity within the group of Asian female comics. “We all have a different voice, even though we’re all Asian females,” she said.

Their next stop? San Francisco. (end)

For more information, visit www.disorientedcomedy.com.

Nina Huang can be contacted at info@nwasianweekly.com.

One Response to “Dis/orient/ed Comedy — Five Asian comedians visit Seattle in sold-out show”

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  1. [...] young Asian American women comics who are creating a big wave:  “Dis/orient/ed.”    (See Asian Week Review).   I haven’t heard them personally, but they sound like some  **** kickin’ Asian [...]


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