I was hesitant to watch Last Comic Standing the other night because the Korean American woman made it to the semifinal round [update: apparently, the finals now – great] and her material is just awful. I was all excited to see her perform when the show first started, because Asian faces on television are so scarce. But now I wish she would just go away.
Her routine is like watching a six-year old Asian kid following around another Asian kid on the playground, yelling, “Me Chinese, me play joke” and “Why don’t you talk American good?” for three and half minutes, while all their non-Asian classmates watch, point and laugh. But less funny, if that’s even possible.
The thing that kills me is that not only is her material not even remotely funny (even her mocking “Korean” accent sounds like a third-rate “Me so horny” act), but there’s no sense of satire, irony or usefulness. Sometimes, humor crosses certain lines of social acceptability (i.e., race, sex, politics) as an act of subversion in order to disarm the audience and make an important point. This can be a difficult path to tread, though. Even comedians with far greater talent, such as Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, have abandoned this strategy of trying to use racial stereotypes to subvert racism because many people simply laugh at the dumb ethnic people instead of grasping the underlying point.
However, there’s nothing subversive or political in her pitiful routine. Just straight up, “Let’s laugh at the dumb, Engrish speaking Asians.” Even if (God forbid) she manages to win something from all of this, how far can she get with her variations of “Don’t all Asian people look the same?” routine? Is getting a place on the C- or D-list really worth perpetuating these ridiculous stereotypes?
I mean, it’s bad enough when other comics make bad Asian jokes for a cheap laugh. But this is just borderline self-hate. It’s pandering to the crowd for stupid giggles, and it’s seriously sad. “Ching chong”? Really? You’re really going to go there?
Richard Belzer, one of the judges, said something to the effect of, “It’s legal for a person of one ethnic group to make fun of themselves and you did a great job.” One, all a “comedy” routine like hers does is give non-Asians permission to mock us (What? What did I say? That Chinese girl totally said the same joke last night.). Two, unlike other skilled comics who utilize self-deprecating humor to disarm the audience (e.g., Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart) this particular comic’s vitriol is always aimed at other people of a similar ethnic background. Sad, it’s just sad.
And, on top of all that, another “comic” went full-on racist in some lame WWII routine. He put on a pair of goggles with “chinky” eyes and literally said things like, “Where he go? Me likey, etc.” And the audience actually booed when the judges pointed out that it’s 2008 and that kind of routine is neither funny nor appropriate.
I just want to unwind and watch some TV at night without being bombarded by all this lazy, race-hating nonsense. If this is what passes for comedy these days, then I’m going to stick with end-of-the world shockumentaries.