You know the stereotypes: Women aren't funny, and Asians are only good at math and building railroads. But a cast of female Asian comedians—including a Japanese former car model, a South Asian boi, and a self-professed "Egyptian American grouch"—is reprogramming audiences with their Dis/orient/ed Comedy showcase, which had a couple of sold-out shows in Los Angeles before coming to Seattle. I called up one of the show's producers and comedians, Yola Lu, for an interview.
How did Dis/orient/ed Comedy get its start?
When I started comedy two years ago, I was written about in the Northwest Asian Weekly. Another female Asian comic saw it and tweeted me. She wanted to do a show of all-Asian female comedians because there were so few of us... We coordinated with a few girls in LA and put down a few thousand dollars to produce a show full of people we'd never met.
Does the comedy in this show revolve around being raised in Asian households?
No. I personally try really hard not to do jokes about being Asian. I think people expect me to make jokes about my parents and their accents because a lot of popular Asian comics get their start doing that, just as I think women feel like they have to be a lot raunchier to get attention from the audience.
So you're manipulating the gimmicks that people force on you?
Yes. We wanted to break stereotypes. There's always this question when you're booked—am I actually funny or do they need a minority act in their show? Or you go onstage and they tune you out or they think all women talk about the same things—you have to work a little harder. And, obviously, we're not all the same.
Your family is Taiwanese. Do they support your comedy?
No. They're pretty against it; it's not traditional. In fact, the only people who have told me to quit comedy are my Asian friends. I just put it away in the back of my head. There's nothing I can do. I just keep inviting them to shows.