Is there a better way to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month than with a comedy show? Not just any comedy show, but a Big Ol' Comedy Showcase hosted by Y'all We Asian, Austin's (and Texas') original all-Asian American improv troupe. The May 27 extravaganza will celebrate five years of bringing their brand of collaborative comedy to Austin audiences by combining the celebration of Asian culture with stand-up, improv, sketch, storytelling, and more.
Founding member Yola Lu traced the origin of the Y'all We Asian troupe back to 2017 when she, Kim Tran (now based in Spain and supporting from afar), and a small group of comics and improvisers sought to create an all-Asian comedy showcase. Lu said that when the first show sold out she realized that "people were just excited to see that there was an Asian American showcase in town." The troupe adopted the name Y'all We Asian and launched the monthly all-Asian showcases Summer Vacation and Starring Y'all We Asian at Coldtowne Theater. In July 2020, they opened the monthly show Y'all We Asian: Family Style at Fallout Theater, and Lu said it's a badge of honor that the monthly shows have enjoyed a record of selling out each time.
Lu's aim with the annual May celebration of the troupe's anniversary (which she lovingly refers to as the "flagship show") is simple: "I really wanted to get a community of people together to come celebrate Asian American comedy. … We're trying really hard to kind of make this seem like a really big Asian American comedy party." This year's show is hosted and headlined by Y'all We Asian and will feature stand-up performers Peng Dang, KC Shornima, Paul Smith, Liem Nguyen, and Arun Rama. Musical comedy will be provided by Cheryl Cruz, and Lu promises Asian food vendors, a photo booth, and a full bar.
Beyond the work that Lu and Y'all We Asian does on Austin stages, the stand-up comic, improviser, and actress launched a community of Asian American performers through Disoriented Comedy 10 years ago. The mostly female stand-up comedy tour became a national movement celebrating Asian American women in comedy as well as introducing Asian audiences to comedy. Lu said it was important to create spaces for both Asian American performers and audience members to participate in comedy safely and without fear of being singled out for being different. If you've been paying attention to the comedy specials released by streaming networks lately, you've noticed the greater representation of Asian American comics. Austin has been fortunate to be a regular destination for national touring comics such as Ronny Chieng, Margaret Cho, Jimmy O. Yang, Jo Koy, and others (hint: If you're just discovering these Asian American comedy heavy hitters, go find their specials online).
The party atmosphere at this weekend's show is partly brought on by the fact that after five years of success, Y'all We Asian has been an unparalleled leader in bringing Asian American comedy to Austin and Texas audiences. My conversation with Lu ended with her saying, "I'm just really excited for the audience to be excited and laughing."
Y’all We Asian presents a Big Ol’ Comedy Showcase at the Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron. Fri., May 27, 8pm. Tickets $15 via eventbrite.com
Y’all We Asian: Family Style, Fallout Theater, 616 Lavaca. First Friday of every month, 8pm.
Valerie Lopez is the executive producer of the Comedy Wham podcast. comedywham.com.
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