Look at me!!! I’m blogging!!!
I have zero blogging experience but when Jeff asked me if I’d be interested in guest blogging on the site to share my collaboration experience with Asiansploitation, I couldn’t say no. I had so much fun with the troupe that a blog entry was the least I could do.
If you don’t already know, I approached Asiansploitation last week and asked them if they’d be interested in recording my holiday parody of Lorde’s song, Royals. Thankfully, they said yes! If you haven’t seen the end result watch here.
Basically, this blog entry is about how the parody came to fruition. If you enjoyed the video, read on! I’ll try my best to provide you with some insider information that will warm the cockles of you heart. When I informed my wife that I was going to write a blog entry it was met with a sense of skepticism. According to her, there a lot of crappy blogs out there and mine better not be one of them. Pressure! My wife is my toughest critic!
Let’s get started!
I play the ukulele in a hula band (and no, that’s not a joke. Lana Carillo of Asiansploitation is actually our lead singer!). Sometimes we like to mess around and reggae-fy music. That is, we take songs that have no business being played on the ukulele and convert them into reggae songs. One day you’ll have to hear our rendition of “On my own” from Les Miserables.
Last weekend we were reggae-fying Royals. We happened to be playing in my living room and the first line of the parody was probably influenced by the presence of a large Christmas tree situated close by – I’ve never seen Santa in the flesh. The band chuckled and I was quick to add the next line. I’ve never heard reindeer on the roof, how do they do it? More chuckles. The next line, How do they get to my address? Fell into place. Hmmmmm? I fumbled through the next two lines and did not come up with anything clever. But then I got to the bridge. And every year it’s like Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous one of all? Sweet Jesus! I was onto something!!! I decided to drop the reggae-fication and the rest of the night I continued to add lines. I also have to give props to my band mates for throwing in some suggestions!
I was so stoked (that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word stoked) about the parody that the next day, I sent a message to Byron A., Jeff, and James asking them if they’d be interested in performing my parody with me at their upcoming Comedy Lab. They answered with a resounding YES, despite the fact that they had no idea what the parody was about. I was so excited I told Lana. I think she was pretty happy for me. She advised me to, “OWN IT!” I told her I’d try.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of the comedy lab performance because I/we didn’t “own it”. At best, we kind of… “leased it”. I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that me, Byron, and James had but ten minutes to rehearse together.
The next day I woke up with an empty feeling. It’s like the feeling you have when you tell a joke but you don’t quite get the reaction you had been hoping for. I have to admit, a lot of my jokes bomb (see my earlier comment about my wife), so I was used to letting jokes go and moving on to the next but… I BELIEVED IN THIS JOKE (parody). I could not let it go. So, I sent the fellas another message asking them if they’d be interested in recording it. To my surprise, Jeff said that he was thinking the same thing! Cool!
A few days later we assembled again and this time Lana and Jeff were able to join in :). But sadly, James couldn’t :( In the hour that we worked together we: figured out harmonies, threw in some jokes, added a few instruments, rehearsed, and probably did about ten takes or so. Since time was not our friend that night the video recording I envisioned turned into a audio recording only. Interesting.
After we were done Byron said that he would take care of the song from there. I had no idea what he was going to do with it. I’m not even sure he knew what he was going to do with it. Plus, I thought Franco (who was there to help with the recording) was the techie guy in the troupe. I went home that night feeling much better about the parody. The fact that the troupe was willing to meet up and record the song was…fulfilling? No, that’s not it. The fact that they were willing to record the parody with me gave a feeling of… acknowledgement, that’s better. My parody had been officially recognized by the comedic community. I was cool with that.
The next day, Byron sent us a teaser on what he was working on, maybe a sixth of the song put together with pictures from the internet. Brilliant. Now I had an idea of what Byron had in mind. After watching the teaser, I was giddy with excitement. I knew that Byron’s take on the final product was going to bring the parody to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL!!! Hopefully you thought it did, too.
There you have it, folks. That’s how the parody came together. I hope you had as much fun watching the video as I had watching it come together. I want to thank Asiansploitation for believing in me and my little idea. Let’s do this again some time, shall we? I also want to thank them for running their Comedy Lab and creating a safe place for us to make funny/fun happen. If you haven’t been, you gotta check it out (shameless plug)!
Oh, and to my beautiful wife, who thinks that a good blog should always have a point… The point of this blog entry is to inform everyone that good things happen when you play the ukulele and turn every day songs into reggae.
Thanks to EVERYONE who came out to support Asiansploitation’s December Comedy Lab with laughter and fun. Your generous donations, when matched by the Canadian government yielded $220.30, 100% of which will go to Global Medic to offer support for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Hey all, I recently became the first Asian to make Cream of Comedy, a showcase to see would be the recipient of the TIM SIMS ENCOURAGEMENT FUND. Past nominees include Nathan Fielder, Debra Digiovanni, Darrin Rowes and many other top Canadian comedians.
CHECK OUT THE NOW TORONTO ARTICLE THEY WROTE ABOUT THE NOMINEES!
We had a blast at our last Asiansploitation Comedy Lab on September 6, 2013. We had a great group of about 25 people join us for an evening full of laughs and fun. I’m pretty sure everyone had a GREAT time – Asiansploitation certainly had a ton of fun working with everyone and seeing all the fun and funny ideas flow as much as it did! Some things I remember: the construction scene, sweeping up white powder, the Blind Date, Story of being Spanish in Canada, and some Asiansploitation improv (clarinet playing, incest). It’s not over yet, there’s more.
Our next Comedy Lab is on October 4, so mark your calendars and come on out. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org so we have an idea how many people we can expect! We are also working towards a Comedy Lab SHOWCASE on November 8, so please mark this down as you won’t want to miss this! You will have a chance to participate in Sketch, Improv, or Stand-up. Contact us to be a part of this.
ADDRESS: Kapisanan Centre of the Arts, 167 Augusta Avenue (two blocks west of Spadina, north of Dundas).
DATE: Friday, October 4, 2013
6PM: Doors open
6:15PM: Meet and mingle
6:30PM: Comedy Lab/Workshop Prompty Starts (warm-ups/small group work/sharing)
8:30PM: We’ll finish up!
Entry by donation: $5… $10 includes special treat.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: If you’re interested in exploring your sketch-comedy – then please take the opportunity to write-out a sketch – it doesn’t have to be long! You’ll have a chance to workshop your idea with a small group during our next Comedy Lab!
We’ll be posting pictures from the last Comedy Lab along with other updates on our Facebook and have created an event for the next lab to make it easier for you to RSVP and invite friends: so please join our page there if you haven’t already: www.facebook.com/Asnsploitation
August 18 was a meaningful day of remembrance at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The 4 dance processions symbolized 4 converging rivers of which I was a droplet and ended with a reading of the names of the dead. Gein Wong was the artistic director.
I was honoured to voice the names of 20 of the 5,200 schoolchildren who perished during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake where schools collapsed from short-cut construction methods. The August 18 AGO event, “Say Their Name, Remember” shared names that Ai Wei Wei and his team collected door to door as the government never did so. I memorized the 20 names on my list and still breath them in my sleep: Zhou1 Guo2 Xian1, Du4 Zhui1 Hong2, Zhou1 Guo2 Xiang1, Cai4 Mao4 Chao1, Dong3 Chen2,…
I almost didn’t get a chance to do so. I thought I had signed up 8 weeks beforehand but never received any follow-up. I thought I wasn’t needed. But Jane Luk, Asiansploitation’s director of Be Pacific and Tofu TV in 2006 and 2007 offered me a ticket for the reading just two days prior. I jumped at the chance.
It was an important day. It made the impact of the Sichuan earthquake very real. And seeing how Ai WeiWei’s art conveys ideas and makes me seek the meaning behind the art made me reflect on the importance of meaning in the comedy I do with Asiansploitation.
The story behind the story is what’s important: the meaning beneath what you see is critically important to create a meaningful experience and real connection with the art. It was a beautiful day. It was calm, purposeful and reflective. It inspired me to refocus my efforts to be meaningful and purposeful in my work, art, and life. I challenge you to focus, be courageous and take charge to create the world you want to live in. The world can change. And with our collective voices and energy, we can move the world forward. Hats off to the schoolchildren of Sichuan.
Signing off…from James, Zhong1 Long2 (middledragon), Cheng.
James, Jane, and Art Teacher Carolynn in the AGO lobby with paper sculpture
of Ai Wei Wei in the background. Photo by Carolynn Sheu.
James Cheng on the podium reading. Photo by Maylynn Quan.
~15-foot log with shape of China and Taiwan bored through to both ends. Photo by James Cheng.
Backpacks of deceased schoolchildren strung together to form a snake. Photo by James Cheng.
Asiansploitation had a great weekend at Lab Cab Festival: Parkdale on July 27 and 28, 2013!
Thanks to everyone who came out and shared in the laughs at The Sister on Queen Street West. We had four 15-minute sets – 2:15PM and 3:30PM on Saturday and Sunday. We had great crowds on both days, though the rain late Saturday afternoon may have deterred a few people from walking in Parkdale. Each set included two of these four sketches: Parent-Prov, Spelling Bee, Cookie Monster, and George Takei, after which we did a montage of Improv scenes using audiences suggestions (such as drinking coffee, an over-sized 3D Penis (?!), and Union Station).
Controversy amidst the fun reined at our 2:15PM Sunday set when Gene was nearly thrown out of the restaurant for some really awesome and disruptive heckling in Parent-Prov.
Kudos to Franco, Gene, and James for bringing laughs and joy to the Queen West Parkdale strip!
A record 26 people showed up despite tornado warnings, ominous clouds, and massive rain. We received generous donations and Kapisanan sold LOTS of drinks, even selling out of their initial allotment. People loved the event and had a lot of fun!!
Franco was sad we didn’t get to do La Ronde; we should build it in next time…
Thank you to everyone who braved traffic and perhaps a bit of rain to make it out to our amazingly fun July 19 Asiansploitation Comedy Lab. We had a great time with warm-ups, working in groups on Trust for Improv, Scenic Improv, Sketches, and trying out Stand-up. And we’ll do it again! Please join and link videos and photos to our Asnsploitation Facebook page to keep up-to-date on when our next Comedy Lab will be (early-mid September).
Check out some Comedy Lab photos here and check out the stars of our July Comedy Lab playing Questions Only: Eric & Esperanza!