Wow its been a long year…I mean week! I know I did not post an interview last week, so to make it up to you all here is a post you will have a good laugh reading.
This week I chose the stand up comedian, Loy Lee, also known as the “Asian King of Comedy” and “Short Pale and Handsome.” At only five years old he started his career as an actor, then later on started comedy. Through comedy he tries to break the stereotypes people think of American Asians. Growing up in the entertainment business he now has a Podcast that I definitely recommend you all to listen to, especially after a long day.
(Interviews me first)
Loy: Do you have a schedule or you just post whenever?
I.A: At first I started with a schedule, but now I post one interview per week when I can, and blog about other stuff whenever I can.
Loy: Nice, nice! With my podcast it’s just an extension to comedy, trying to find something to talk about, but trying to do it every week and things in life comes up it’s hard to stay on schedule.
I.A: Yeah it’s not easy being on schedule because things life happens you know so we don’t have to be exactly there each time. Just the idea and being somewhat active on blog/podcast is enough.
Loy: Yes and I think it’s the hardest part because being on schedule, I’m the boss, the blog or podcast is like a job. Every Monday I gotta go sit down and work “Oh man!”
I.A: The idea of a podcast for comedy is great though! It’s on the go to listen to and have a good laugh wherever.
Loy: Yeah a podcast is like an audio version of blogging. You don’t have anyone tell you what you can or cannot talk about. Also, not having anyone tell you when or where, you could do it anywhere, anytime and about anything. As long as you stay true to who you are, people start to follow.
I.A: Yes, exactly! For me I actually started a podcast for a few days haha…then stopped because I enjoy writing. So I’m more into writing than talking about whatever it is.
Loy: I completely understand. I’m the exact opposite. The only way I come up with new materials is talking. When I’m on stage, it’s mostly talking, so it’s the exact opposite but very very very parallel with writing.
I.A: Yeah because speaking in front of people is a lot different than writing because for writing we have to make sure the grammar and others is correct, but with speaking you don’t have to look into that. It really depends on the person if they enjoy speaking, writing or both, of course.
Loy: Yes for blogging its more focused on grammar and what to put on blog. I could speak on stage and people would literally say, “That’s not how you say it.” “That’s not proper grammar.” Nobody cares!
I.A: The way we write is not exactly how we speak, obviously. (Thinks about all the “like” and “umm” I’ve said that I have to edit out later)
Loy: Yeah the way you write it is not the way you speak it but people would talk about writing in your own voice. What does that even mean? Like that’s not even English! Makes no sense.
(Talks about Chicago and his past event here)
I.A: How is the comedy industry like as an Asian-American?
Loy: Being Asian-American I’m not second generation, I mean my parents were born here, their parents were born here and so on. At first there wasn’t a function, nobody knows what to expect from me, but I get to play with different angles. There isn’t a lot of Asian crowd, so most of the crowds I performed to are White, Black and Hispanic. I get the fun of destroying whatever thinking they have because I don’t fall into those stereotypes. For me I find it as an advantage.
I.A: Why do you think not many Asians attend comedy shows?
Loy: I’m starting to build the crowd, so it’s helping a lot of people who are being raised in America to come see, something to see as they grow up. I grew up with my father and mother listening to Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby and Redd Foxx, so I grew up with comedy. My parents grew up in comedy. I think the biggest reason why a lot of Asians are not in comedy and don’t go out to comedy shows as every other demographic is that in Asia comedy isn’t seen as a form of art, only display of public speech. In the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s there was no comedy, it’s really new to Asia in general.
I.A: I heard about comedy in some countries not being like here where people just go to a show nearby to just laugh and have a good time. In the Middle East comedy shows are forbidden, so it’s out from the city and certain areas, almost hidden away. Also, men and women are seated separately, women are not even suppose to laugh loudly, so it’s very different. Basically the culture in other countries change comedy. Comedians who go to other countries have to make sure they respect those cultures and follow the rules in what they could say to be careful in a way.
Loy: Yeah, I have friends who go overseas to the Middle East and they tell them don’t mention certain things, not to make jokes about it, but to not talk badly about the Prince, government or other things like that. I have friends who did comedy in China, they had to do a musical act in between or have somebody play an instrument as they’re on stage. It’s more of a musical performance than a comedy performance because in China you can’t go up on stage and talk to say whatever you want to say. So it is very interesting when you go to other countries and know what’s socially acceptable. They’re doing their best to not cause a riot or something, when talking about the government here everyone is like, “Yeah!” but in other countries you might get tortured or something.
I.A: Have you ever performed in China?
Loy: I haven’t, I’ve done most of my comedy in America, I haven’t even been to China. My parents haven’t even been to China.
Loy: Yeah haha.
I.A: Do you plan to visit China someday and perform?
Loy: Now I feel that every place that I go to has to be for comedy, so if I do go to China, anywhere in Asia or Europe, I get paid to go to do comedy. Vacation doesn’t apply, everything is work. I’ll never go to Houston unless they hired me. Just like I went to Chicago because they hired me to do comedy. I’d go anywhere if I get paid to go there, anywhere, I don’t care where.
I.A: Cool! How long have you been acting?
Loy: Oh…hahaha…well I’ve been acting forever. When I first started acting I must have been five or six. My mom got me in a commercial, my aunt got me engaged at the time, so I’ve been acting since I was young. I stopped during high school, I really wanted to be a music producer and an actor, I have no idea how those two came together. I grew up in Boston, right after high school, I went into acting again when I was eighteen years old. I went to New York, eighteen years old jumping onto the train and jumping on the bus going to New York. When I turned twenty six I was like “I’m gonna move to LA and live out there to pursue acting.” I didn’t get into comedy until I was in my thirties. So I e Ben doing comedy for six…seven years, I started doing comedy when I was thirty one.
I.A: I notice a lot of comedians are also actors as well.
Loy: Honestly, it’s always been TV and films in comedy, so it has always been side by side. You get to be a good enough comedian were you can get booked on TV or a movie then use those credits to get better comedy gigs, do more sold out shows and create bigger events. That builds comedians careers up and create better movies. Just like Kevin Hart, you know, he’s a comedian and been in many movies, which made him a better comedian.
I.A: Yes true!
I.A: For your podcast “Short Pale And Handsome” why did you chose that to be the title?
Loy: Because Asian men are not seen as sexable in America. I mean the image is getting a little bit better but women always say they want tall, dark and handsome. It was gonna go “Short Pale And Funny” but I was like nah handsome. My mom thinks I’m handsome so yeah. I think it’s funny because when I promoted on stage that’s how people remember me as, short, pale and handsome. I thought it was catchy and described me. If I went with “Short Pale And Funny” some people would say “Nah you’re not that funny.” No ones gonna say “You’re not that handsome.”
I.A: So for your podcast you started it to let people know about you as a person and everyday life in general, like going to the DMV and other things, right?
Loy: Yeah I’m a person. Personal branding is a phenomenon that has really risen the last couple of years. I could really be who I am, I could tell jokes, have a conversation about myself so you can figure out if you like me or not. In the industry you have to have a body of work. I can’t be famous overnight but some people would say “That was funny! He was on The Tonight Show let me google him.” So if you can’t find anything about me, no body of work and no other materials then people lose their interest right away. The podcast is a way to get into my mind, get to know a little bit more about me.
I.A: Cool! So what do you do besides comedy shows and podcasts, any hobbies?
Loy: I just got married, so I am entertaining my wife.
Loy: Thank you, I appreciate that! We got married on July, so we’re about a month and a half married. So, entertaining her, keeping the house clean and I watch a lot of sports. I’m a big sports fan, watching football, baseball and basketball, also rugby.
I.A: That’s great! How did you and your wife meet? Did she see you perform at your show or she didn’t know about you?
Loy: I meet her before I started comedy. It actually helps a lot. I feel that a lot of comics meet their significant other after they start comedy. It is hard to explain the way of life is as a comedian, like I have to be out every night, leave during the weekend then the significant other would ask why? It is a very hard conversation. I’ve been blessed seeing her learn the way comedy comes together, we grew together. She sees that, like knowing how to get to the next level in comedy and what to do. She’s learning it as I’m learning it, it isn’t a “because I said so” conversation. So that’s why that has helped a lot.
I.A: That’s interesting, when I think about it it makes sense to be with someone like that. I mean like most celebrities it’s hard for them to find someone like that who understands what their schedule is like, how the industry is like and etc, which is different.
Loy: Yes exactly! That’s why celebrities get married to other celebrities. When Justin Bieber dates a non-celebrity all their photos get taken and personal information gets leaked. It is hard to explain to somebody the lifestyle, like “I have to because I have to” which doesn’t go well in a lot of relationships.
I.A: It’s good that you already found someone who supported you the whole time, also support from family and friends. Does your family come to your shows?
Loy: Yes when they can. When I go back there in Boston they’ll come check out a show, but they don’t stay for all the shows every night.
I.A: That’s great!
Loy: I’ve always been entertaining, so when I said this is what I wanted to do it wasn’t a shock to them. But they don’t want to hear my perspective of growing up with them or how I view about my childhood or what not.
I.A: Your parents seem supportive, at the beginning did they ever think that doing comedy isn’t a career?
Loy: They knew from a very young age that I was a knuckle head. My two older sisters went to college, they went to an Ivy League school, but it came to me it wasn’t a surprise. They were like “We’re just happy that you graduated high school.” They are really surprised now at my comedy based on having bigger crowd. They’re proud that I’m not an idiot just a knuckle head.
I.A: Is it uncomfortable telling inappropriate jokes when your family is there at your shows?
Loy: I don’t think so, I think it actually helps because when my mom is in the crowd I would let everyone know that my mom is in the crowd. If the jokes is awkward and I’ll think about it “Oh my mom is here!” Haha! Now it is not a comedy show, you’re sitting at my dinner table. I’ll say all the time that my family is in the crowd. I’ll tell a joke telling a story about my sister and I’ll say “Not the one that is sitting right there. It’s the other sister, not her.” Haha!
Loy: For the fans, I go from a lecture to a conversation at the dinner table. I think that makes the experience a hundred times better.
I.A: True! The concept of “conversation at the dinner table” with your fans when performing on stage is a great way to look at it.
Loy: Yeah and when I say something inappropriate some people look at my mom and I say “Hey don’t look at my mom, don’t look at her, look at me.” Haha!
I.A: What creative project(s) are you working on?
Loy: The beauty of comedy is that the market never does, I don’t have a specific project that I’m looking for, but I’m always looking for collaboration of any kind. The great thing about comedy is that you’re never done, assuming my pay increases I’ll be doing this forever. Haha! College season, the best kept secret is that comedians make a good living in doing comedy at colleges. You’ll hear some comics say they’re not doing Colleges which is great because that means there is more room for us, other comedians.
I.A: You have upcoming shows, right?
Loy: Yes, I’m always at D.C. Right now just multiple comedy festivals and a whole bunch of shows in D.C, Maryland and Virginia area. Normally I fill out my schedule on my website http://loyleecomedy.com/tour/