Kiki Yeung and her crazy woke Asians make their mark during AAPI Heritage Month
Asian comedy troupe CRAZY ASIANS created by Kiki Yeung will celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Island Heritage Month with a program filled with shows at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Kiki managed to find the time to answer a few of my questions between producing the various shows in May, rehearsing her own stand-up, and taking care of her toddler son.
Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Kiki!
What inspired you to create Crazy Woke Asians in 2018?
I was tired of laundering in Hollywood and being the only Asian on comedy shows. I wanted to create a platform for Asian comedians to shine and share different types of Asian American experiences on stage.
How Appropriate It Is to Stream Two Live Shows from the Santa Monica Playhouse This Month Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – your monthly COMEDY CONTEST May 15 and your COMEDY FESTIVAL May 29 and 30. How did these two concepts (competition and festival) originate?
Due to COVID we had to rotate and do Zoom and YouTube / Facebook live broadcasts so I found the CRAZY WOKE ASIAN COMEDY CONTEST it was more of a variety show with roast battles, trivia games and various Asian cultural evenings; like last month we had a Japan themed contest and this month is Vietnam themed.
I started on CRAZY WOKE ASIAN VIRTUAL COMEDY FESTIVAL in 2020, and we were able to include comedians from Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Seattle. So this year we wanted to continue this tradition and celebration for Asian Heritage Month.
It’s not the first time you’ve worked with Santa Monica Playhouse. Your personal exhibition SECOND CHANCES OF GRACE was produced by them in 2017. What cosmic forces brought you together for the first time with the Santa Monica Playhouse?
I auditioned for a role in the Santa Monica Playhouse Christmas musical in 2016. I was driving from San Diego to Santa Monica for rehearsals. I just fell in love with the theater, (co-artistic directors) Chris (DeCarlo) and Evelyn (Rudie) have been so supportive of my projects. I am really grateful to them.
You had over 90 comedians from all over the world in Zoomed last year COMEDY FESTIVAL. How many of the city’s comedians will be in your two-day live broadcast?
This year we have mostly comedians in town, with the exception of three Zoom shows for out of town comedians in Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Hong Kong.
Besides you, will an actor appear on the two May productions?
Comedians from Toronto will appear on both days. And producers Ai Yoshihara and April Weber will host several shows, along with other Los Angeles-based comedians.
You’ve already performed live sets at the Comedy Chateau in North Hollywood this year, and you plan to present your live broadcasts with a live audience in the theater at the Santa Monica Playhouse. What security measures will you have in place?
Yes I hope; but it will be a very limited live audience. We require performers and the public to present a vaccination card or a negative COVID test at the entrance to the theater. We will also have temperature controls and sanitizers at the door. All headquarters are socially distanced.
How did your Comedy Chateau show raise money for the AAPI Community Fund’s Stop Asian Hate campaign?
It was amazing! All the comedians got together and we raised over $ 2000 for GoFundMe! A week later we did another Stop Asian Hate service for the AAPI fund at Lyd & Mo in Pasadena, in total we raised almost $ 3000.
You were born in Hong Kong. How old were you when you arrived in the United States?
I came to the United States at the age of twelve.
Did your family move to an Asian neighborhood in Seattle?
My family moved to a town called Bothell, pronounced “Boonies”.
Who were your performance idols growing up?
I love Whoopi Goldberg, Michelle Pfieffer and Julia Roberts. For comedy, I like Dave Chapelle, Darrell Hammond, and Aries Spears.
What’s the first famous Asian face you saw on TV or in the movies?
Anna May Wong.
How have you experienced the open mic experience in comedy clubs since you started acting in 2017?
I love Tao Comedy Studio, Bobbie and Chris are very supportive. I made my first mic there. The first sold-out Crazy Asians the show was in Tao.
I used to go to the Clown House before COVID and host Jeff even let me take my toddler son when I couldn’t find a babysitter. The Clown House is now closed due to COVID. It’s so sad. I miss this place.
I was also going to The Hollywood Comedy on Pre-COVID Melrose. Jiaoying Summers is the owner and a good friend. They have virtual mics every day and are open again now.
Dante Chang’s Micro Comedy Flashback on Melrose is fun too! Great atmosphere and environment conducive to testing stuff or just declaiming.
With the growing awareness of systemic discrimination, have your comedic topics narrowed or widened?
It has expanded due to the racism and Asian hatred that circulates. I started talking about difficult topics, and it actually got me deeper into who I am and what I really want to share on stage.
What’s in the near future for Crazy Woke Asians?
We have the ASIAN CRAZY WOKE SOLO PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL May 11-14 at the Santa Monica Playhouse. It will be three stops with a free youth comedy camp, industry signs and a red carpet opening night. The festival features over 50 comedians who present their 20- to 50-minute specials.
What future for Kiki Yeung after the pandemic?
I do a lot of outdoor shows and book / manage at the Comedy Chateau. I hope to visit New York / East Coast for the comedy and also to do stand-ups in Hong Kong and China.
My romantic comedy series Sweet and sour chicks about a single mom stand-up actress and her girlfriends touring film festival circuits. We expect a first part of the actors and the team this summer.
Thanks again, Kiki! I can’t wait to see all your next Crazy Asians events.
For May 15 CRAZY WOKE ASIAN COMEDY CONTEST tickets; log on to www.eventbrite.com/e/crazy-woke-asians-comedy-contest-may-15th-live-santa-monica-playhouse-tickets-152031523379
For tickets for CRAZY WOKE ASIAN COMEDY FESTIVAL May 29 and 30; Connect to www.santamonicaplayhouse.com/cwacomedyfestival.html
For more information on future events; Connect to www.crazywokeasians.com