by Caitlin Tortorici
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER
Sponsored by the Intercultural Center, the President’s Office, the Dean of Students and the Asian Cultural Association, Comedy Central’s Eliot Chang brought his “Let’s Die Laughing” stand-up comedy tour to the Reid Ballroom on Thursday, Nov. 30.
Chang’s TV appearances include Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” NBC’s “Law and Order: SVU,” and Spike TV’s “Crashtest.” Chang was advertised around campus as “honest, never predictable, and [not dependent] on stereotypes.”
Many students agreed. “I thought the show was very original,” said sophomore Jerreh Badjie. “He was really honest about himself, and I liked that.”
“I just liked the fact that he didn’t tell a bunch of Asian jokes, because that’s what I was half expecting,” said sophomore Liam Wall. “I just like the fact that he went off a lot of random [stuff], because that’s what I do with my friends. That’s what I find funniest.”
Throughout the first part his performance, Chang satirized his struggle as a comedian forced to represent the entire Asian race, and tied racial humor to matters such as jury duty, penis size, fake breasts and (sometimes Amish) girls gone wild.
Toward the end of the show, Chang asked the audience if they wanted to hear jokes about politics or sex. Whitman went with sex.
Chang did not disappoint. “I liked the part about him making a whole lot of noise in his apartment. I don’t necessarily believe him but he’s good at telling stories and I appreciate that,” said Wall.
“I thought the ‘You lied to me!’ bit was hilarious,” said a Whitman sophomore on Chang’s expressed feeling of betrayal when a woman’s face falls short in attractiveness compared to her derriere.
However, many students gave mixed reviews about the racial aspect of Chang’s comedy.
“He was an average comedian, but I don’t think he was worth all the hype that we gave him,” said sophomore Jack Mountjoy. “Everything about him being racially sensitive was just not true. I heard the comedy would be different, but it was the same old racist stuff, and I was expecting a lot more. He should have stuck to the sex and developed that a bit more.”
Nevertheless, students agreed Chang made many a good point at his critically acclaimed Q&A workshop “Asians in the Media” following the show.
“I thought the end session explained a lot about him. I learned a lot from it,” said sophomore Megan Duffy.
In his workshop, Chang argued the media identifies “Asians” in terms of physical appearance rather than continent of origin.
He addressed the unspoken prejudices against Asians in the United States, such as the stereotype that Asian women are “sex objects” or “bitches” while Asian men are unappealing, that Asians are only “cool” if assimilated into other races and the lack of press coverage on Asian hate crimes.
He also discussed the limited roles for Asian actors in American television and film.
He asked students, “Why is it okay to make fun of Asians when it’s not okay to make fun of other races?”
Chang advised audience members to research and embrace their cultural histories. He stressed the importance of quality education and voting, and encouraged audience members to throw some entertainment into cultural awareness events. “Do what you need to do to get the asses in the seats,” said Chang.