Comedian Steve Byrne made an appearance on The Jay Leno Show on Friday night. He’s one of those big up and coming comedians and if you land on Leno, you know you’re almost there. If you don’t know Steve, he’s half-Irish and half-Korean which means he can outdrink anybody.
Love her or hate her, Margaret Cho has endured and her stuff can be funny (and raunchy). She has certainly said some controversial things along the way, but that’s what comedians do. She’s been touring the country this year and she just released a few clips from her show.
Last night we dropped by K-Date at Comix which is the brainchild of female comedian Helen Hong. Her comedy show with matchmaking created a lot of curiosity because of a New York Times write-up from a few weeks ago. We obviously had to go investigate what the buzz was about. So what did we discover? We had a lot of laughs on and off the stage. Helen Hong opened with a monologue that many Asians and Koreans could relate to about her parent’s and Korean culture. She then went off stage to quickly match up a few couples, which was equally as entertaining as the comedians. Though Asians are shy, it was fun to watch Helen select an unsuspecting audience member and question them about what kind of girl or guy they liked. After a few laughs from Helen’s banter with the young cute lady, she proceeded to roam around the room looking for a guy of her liking or that fit the description of the lady’s desire. Interestingly, the first girl said she liked guy’s in suits and there was only one guy in a suit so that was an easy pairing.
Throughout the rest of the evening, different comics would do their monologue. These are hand picked comics (or friends) of Helen’s and they were quite diverse: 2 African-Americans, a Jew, an Asian and a half white/Latin guy. One of the funniest bits was from Jen Kwok, who sang a song called “Date an Asian (man).” Not often do you see a Jewish guy and an Asian gal rap.
Back to the matchmaking. So in between sets, the comedian on stage was given the power – with the help of Helen – to select and match up a guy and a girl. One guy was lucky because he was selected twice by accident because the comedian hadn’t seen the previous matchmaking episode. Anyway, some of the pairings seemed like a good fit because there was a lot of conversation going on afterwards and some were …. let’s say interesting. It was definitely a good night of entertainment presented by Helen Hong. The next one is in October, so come out and see us there because we’ll be back again doing some interviews. Don’t be shy and say “hi” to us.
There are rumors flying around the Internet about Ken Jeong showing up as a guest host with Jeremy Pivens of Entourage fame on Monday night’s WWE Raw – the pro wrestling show. Why could it be Ken Jeong? Mr. Jeong will be featured in the Jeremy Piven movie “The Goods,” playing a car salesman along side Pivens. Last Monday night on WWE Raw, Shaquille O’Neal showed up and rumbled with the biggest wrestlers. We can only wonder how Ken Jeong would play along with guys 2-3x his size. Will he wrestle? Will he get bodyslammed? It may be play but it could also be accidentally painful. Perhaps it won’t be Ken Jeong but someone else from “The Goods” movie. According to Piven’s twitter, the guest host will be “With me tomorrow night on Raw is a gentleman you know from The Hangover and he also has a day job.” Could it be Ken Jeong?
Interesting article in the New York Times over the weekend about stand-up comedian Helen Hong’s attempt at speed matchmaking. However, her twist is that she uses a comedy show to get people in the audience to meet each other. She teamed up with Comix, a Manhattan comedy club to fill a room with Asians and let Helen do her thing. So what was the genesis of this effort?
Ms. Hong spent enough time in South Korea to be familiar with a phenomenon called “booking,” in which men at a nightclub heavily tip a waiter to physically drag a young woman they’ve noticed over to their table. “It’s barbaric,” Ms. Hong said. “And of course the women have to look like they’re really protesting or else they look like a slut.” But she understood the basic motivation: “In most East Asian cultures, you can’t meet someone new unless you’re introduced by a third party.”
If you live in New York, it might be worth checking out and it’d also be good to support a Korean-American stand-up comedian. Read more at the NYTimes.com>
Margaret Cho made an appearance on Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show on Monday night. Craig must like Korean-American comics because he’s had Henry Cho on his show a few times and now Margaret Cho. Anyway, Margaret was on Craig’s show to promote her Lifetime show, Drop Dead Diva. She busts out in different accents on the show: Asian, Scottish and Southern. Check out the video.
Danny Cho has traveled far as a comic, having been born in East LA and now living in West LA. OK. That was a terrible attempt at humor so I’ll leave it to the professionals. Anyway, Danny was in New York recently on the final leg of his east coast tour. We met up in Korea town at a coffee shop, like we were on a “meeting.” You have probably seen Danny on the Fox network on MadTV. He’s done multiple guest appearances there and elsewhere. During this night he was honest and real, but of course he had a few jokes that I couldn’t quite publish because we’re PG-13.
So how did you get into comedy?
It was a dare during the summer of 2000. My friends dared me and it was right after (graduating from) high school. They said, “You’re a funny dude but can you do it on stage?” It was a testosterone driven response. They picked a venue in south central LA because they’re jerks. They take me to the middle of the hood to do stand-up. I did pretty well and won the fan favorite and that’s what got me started.
What happened right after that?
I was bit by the comedy bug, but I was a typical Korean son that had to go to college and basically do what my parents wanted me to do. But I tried stand-up with every chance I got: bars, tea houses. I would do the open mic.
So I met this guy “PK,” and he used to run Asian night at the Laugh Factory and I got a couple nights there. I got bit by the comedy bug even more. Through PK and through hustling, I met a lot of people. Like Bobby Lee (of MadTV), who introduced me to my first agent and here I am, 9 years later still doing stand up.
Do your parents like what you’re doing?
Hell no! My parents raised you to understand how hard it is to make a dollar. I’m on my fourth car that I’ve paid off. For them, it was a matter of teaching me that you’re a man and that you got to take care of yourself. I always had a part time job since I was twelve. This isn’t what they wanted for their son.
What do you like about doing stand up?
It’s kinda of a selfish reason, but it’s a form of catharsis for me. It’s the only time where I can completely be myself without worry and people judging me. It’s like therapy but I’m getting paid for it.
It’s the idea of going out in front of complete strangers. Sometimes you do well and sometimes you don’t. Bombing on stage makes you feel so bad that it makes you feel alive. It’s like not knowing about love without your heart getting broken.
I know that all to well. Ugh. So who are you inspirations?
I would have to say that would be Bernie Mac. He would be the first inspiration. It was kinda of the swagger he had. Sometimes you didn’t know what he was saying. In terms of style, it was Louis C.K. and Dave Chappelle. For Chappelle, it’s like a long ass story and it’s crazy that he can tell a 40 minute story and keep you engaged. Louis C.K. can take something normal like changing diapers and dissect it into a gross joke. I kinda like that off the wall comedy.
Any rough patches along the way?
I’m in a rough patch now. I don’t think I’m out of it. There’s a lot of obstacles, depending on the market. The LA market is saturated with people on TV. New York has way to much competition. With the exception of a few people, it’s all for themselves without much support. But I have to say that the Asian comics in LA are better in terms of supporting one another.
Has the Korean community been supportive?
Yes and no. Koreans are the biggest haters because they hate their own people the most. I think the quote and quote who are conservative have a perception of what they should be like. God fearing, don’t smoke, etc. When they see me, I’m not what they expect. I think we have enough doctors. For us to be recognized as Americans, we need to show there’s a lot of us who are shitty. It’s great we have more doctors, but it’s going to perpetuate the model minority. But there’s degenerates like me. But there’s also people who are supportive. I have to say that the hate mail I get are from Korean. It makes me laugh; those intense emails.
Any ugly incidents on stage?
The worst I’ve felt bombing was …… was at an all black night: appropriately called “Chocolate Sundaes.” I went up and I guess I got a little to racial too early. I didn’t ease them into it. Instead of backing down I went stronger and the crowd turned on me. I thought I was going to get lynched.
You’re a west coast guy?
Born and bread and probably will never leave. I like New York but in small doses?
I live New York everyday with an IV. Anyway, what’s your favorite Korean food?
Daeji bul kogi! Slightly undercooked. I live on the edge.
If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you would be doing?
After I graduated college (UCLA), I worked as a valuation consultant at KPMG. I was there for 3 years and I would probably be doing that.
Do you have any kind of message for young comics?
If you want to become a comedian, find out quick as possible. The more and more you do it – don’t worry about anything – you’ll find out. Someone once told me that being a true comedian means you need a certain amount of shows under your belt. Keep on doing it. Try it out. Build out thick skin.
Well Danny, you have got much thicker skin than me. Keep’em laughing. Thanks for your time.