Tag Archives: Writing

My Blog Has Moved: jennyyang.tv/blog

Hello, world.  I’ve migrated my blog to my new website platform at http://jennyyang.tv/blog.

Come on over!  You’ll get updates on my shows, comedy and of course plenty of blogging. Upcoming blogging projects include: HowToBeAGoodAsian and A Story A Day.

Please say hello!

Joan Rivers, I Kiss Your Ring: My Fancy Showtime “Funny Women” Documentary Experience [jennyyang.tv blog]

HOW IS IT THAT MY TALKING FACE WAS UP NEXT TO THE TALKING FACES OF MIND-BLOWING COMEDY VETS LIKE…Joan Rivers, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Griffin, Lily Tomlin, Aisha Tyler, Tig Notaro, Janeane Garofalo, Judy Gold, and Sandra Bernhard?!

Showtime channel Why We Laugh: Funny Women

I’m in this incredible Showtime documentary “Why We Laugh: Funny Women,” (IMDB) Executive-Produced by the Doña of comedy, Joan Rivers (Don’t talk to me ever again until you the documentary about her called “A Piece of Work“). It premiered this past Thursday night so I watched it for the first time along with the premium-cable-channel-subscribers of the ruling class who still believe in purchasing their entertainment with a feeling of exclusivity.  We had a little hang at the home of a semi-ruling-class friend who actually had legal, non-Torrent Showtime cable television. I was with some of my closest friends/comedy supporters AND comic Helen Hong (another comic featured in the documentary)! It was grand.

(Hey! Those who missed it! Here’s the teaser trailer: http://youtu.be/HJMiekdm8zk)

HERE IS MY RECIPE FOR ENJOYING A FANCY DOCUMENTARY PREMIERE WHEN YOU ARE AFRAID YOUR FACE WILL TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF THAT HUGE SCREEN TV

8 Servings of Neighborhood Thai Food
The premiere was at 8pm on a Thursday night so hard working dayjobbers gotta eat! We had a fairly decent meal of your standard Thai fare…but with the addition of some orange chicken because what says celebrate your fancy documentary premiere as an Asian American comic than ORANGE CHICKEN!

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Look. Before you take away my Chinese keepin-it-real card, we ordered it because it’s the fav dish of the two boys of the house (my buddy’s kids). Yeah! That’s right! (wipes orange glaze from lip corners)

1 Lemonade and Bourbon Cocktail Perched By A Comfortable Couch

We were so excited there was no cocktail strong enough to take away the edge.  In fact, the jitters were a little stronger than normal than for a live comedy show because the documentary is edited and done. We had NO control over what was going to appear on the television screen moments from now.

Jenny Yang and Helen Hong on the couch

Jenny didn’t get the memo to smile with excitement at the camera, just continue wringing those hands in anxiety, Jenny. Atta girl.

Some thoughts running through the brain:

  1. Am I gonna sound like a jerk?
  2. Am I gonna look like a jerk?
  3. Did these people know how to light and angle the cameras to make our round moonfaces look good?
  4. What will my soul think?
  5. Will I look at myself with shame or delight after this experience?
  6. What if I only appear once?
  7. What if I only appear twice? (Dang. I hyped this up too much with my friends)

Fortunately before a shame spiral of nervous questions could continue 8 o’clock struck and the show had begun!

1 Large Screen Television with Surround Sound and Premium Cable Subscription

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Like the dorks we are, we had to take multiple photos of ourselves in front of the television screen while the live television broadcast was happening (because for some people non-internet broadcast television still feels a little special, generation post-Z…what are these Zygotes called now?)

Ignore the sucked-in cheeks…that’s just the nerves speaking. As a tomboy and ungirly girl, the nerves kick in and my knee-jerk reaction is to pose as female gender normative as possible.  Is that a strange evolutionary Darwinian fight-or-flight response? Who knows. Perhaps it has gotten me some free snacks and drinks in my time.

28 Photos of Human Live Comic in Front of the TV Posing Just Like the TV Comic On-Screen

WE. GOT. NO. SHAME. and yet we both knew this was what had to go down when we watched this together. ALL unspoken.

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Could they have pulled out just a smidge? Lord. My face took up all 52 inches of that screen…AND I LOOKED GOOD DOIN’ IT! ((snaps))

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Helen got the opening shot of the documentary! Her profile saying that she “shit her pants” when she first did stand up. EXCELLENT WORK, HONG.

2 Lines of Interview in the Main Storyline

Hey man. Next to Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Rivers, and Sandra Bernhard, I’d give them as much shine as possible! Yup. 2 lines of my interview got into the main storyline and it was divine.  They were short but heck, the editor made them count.  I had been tipped off by the producer that my interview provided one of the chapter titles and when this title card appeared…well…I KNEW. IT WAS ME WHO PROVIDED THIS LIFE-AFFIRMING GEM.

The Yang Ancestors will be proud.

The Yang Ancestors will be proud.

I believe the exact quote was:  “Stand up comedy is all dicks and balls.”

PUT THAT ON A PLAQUE AMERICA! SHE’S CONCISE AND A TRUTH-TELLER! A TRUE ARTIST!

I’d like to think my contribution to the story line will bring great pride to the Yang ancestral table in our heaven above. And fortunately, my parents do not know what a blog is and rarely read English unless their life or immigration status depended on it. (If you are reading this my brothers, let’s avoid translating this blog post to the parentals)

The other one was what I believed was a rather deep set of statements I had made about how I believe that comedy should be the platform for the “bullied” not the bulliers. But I’m sure it was far less eloquent than that in the soundbite. Nevertheless, It was in there and it is actually an idea that I feel very strongly about. I’ve experienced being made fun of as the lone Asian woman in a mostly white comedy club and having Mr. Spikey Blonde Haired Bully guy jerko comic pick on me with hack massage, nail salon, Asian sex jokes. Stupid. You already have a platform called THE WORLD. Leave the comedy stage for those less empowered to talk the f*ck back! (breathe)

Besides the two lines, the credits at the very end was pretty great though. They were kind enough to include a run of some of my jokes about the rules I’d like the American public to follow so that Asian Americans could be treated with more respect (AMERICA: You have been given notice!). You KNOW my friend is pulling these clips together into a single video for me!

AS FOR THE ACTUAL MOVIE: I really loved learning more about the history of modern female comics!  I had heard Moms Mabley was someone who was the godmother of African American comedy history so I liked that she was acknowledged in the context of this movie about women and comedy. My buddies and I were surprised no one mentioned Carol Burnett or Ellen DeGeneres. Hmm.

Joan Rivers made me tear up at the end when she talked about just how stand up comedy is everything for her. She has such an inspirational and yet tragic story. YOU MUST SEE “A PIECE OF WORK.” the documentary about her!

25 Strawberries and 1 Tub of Cool Whip

After the movie, we re-convened in the dining room to enjoy the humungo strawberries with some of that hydrogenated processed frothiness that is Cool Whip that Helen brought over. We didn’t manage to make the Helen’s white wine spritzers (I’ve never had one!)…but I say that we should save that for another day.  We’ll drink white wine spritzers and listen to all the classic rock that our immigrant parents never listened to and therefore never exposed us to so yeah we really don’t know that that epic jam was Led Zeppelin! Okay!??!

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That’s it! That’s my recipe for awesomeness!

WHATCHA THINK OF THE DOCUMENTARY? DID YOU WATCH IT? DID YOU LEARN SOMETHING? ARE YOU AS FASCINATED AS I WAS AT HOW AMAZING THESE WOMEN WERE? WHAT COMPANY I WAS IN!

For reading through this entire blog, you get a weird selfie I took with the stark room-sized lighting umbrella contraption that was at the shoot….PLUS my extreme makeup face from the makeup pro who had a huge suitcase of makeup doohickeys. Lawd.

Don’t stare for too long. It may burn into your soul.

photo 1-001

“Coming Out” to My Parents About Doing Standup Comedy [Repost from CreativeLifePod]

This is an oldie but a goodie. I’my retiring my CreativeLife podcast and the connected blog posts so I thought I’d repost this one that pretty much started it all.  Throughout the year of interviewing creatives I learned so much about the kind of hard work, passion and courage it takes to put your heart into the world. Thank you to all my guests. You helped me to transition into this uncertain but inspiring and exciting lifestyle built around writing and comedy.

Thank you: Sarah Negahdari, Emily C. Chang, Jennifer Jajeh, Ryan Andreas, May Lee-Yang, Ann “A’misa” Chiu, Quan Phung, Steve Nguyen, Jocelyn “Joz” Wang

This post appeared in May of 2011 and drew the best responses (comments from the original post copied below). I hope you enjoy it. And please reply and let me know what you think!

“Coming Out” to My Parents About Doing Standup Comedy

Jenny Yang Jokes a Tuesday Night Project, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

I work snark for the money.

Yeah. I said it. I “came out” to my parents that I’m serious about comedy. Let’s be real here: I have no real comparison to what it might feel like to have to “Come Out” to my parents in the traditional, sexuality sense. But I’d like to think that telling my parents that I’m taking “joking” rather seriously was like a close friend of a distant cousin to the real “Coming Out” experience. I started doing comedy a couple years ago. After a few months I realized I liked it and will pursue it while I kept my day job. So I figure, I should probably tell my parents, cuz that’s what a normal adult child would want to share with their parents when they make a large time commitment to a new hobby that brings them joy.

We were at our regular local hotspot, the Souplantation. That’s an all-you-can-eat salad, soup and baked goods bar where Torrance families like to go to have their unsupervised children smear their nose-picking fingers in the rainbow sprinkles bowl by the frozen yogurt machine. That place is so crowded and old I can’t imagine how they could have kept that place clean since I started going there twenty years ago.  I’d wonder why I haven’t gotten sick from that place but I figure I’ve gone there so many times my bowels have developed a strong immunity to Souplantation’s microbes.  They say they have specific hours but it feels like they are never closed. They have this never-ending buffet line of people who like to eat food from their trays with bare hands while they wait for my older Chinese parents to balance the sunflower seed spoon over to their own plate.

During the prolonged silence and everyday drivel that is usually the extent of my conversation with my parents over meals, I decided to tell them that I was starting to do comedy. This is exactly how it went, translated from Chinese.

Me: Mom, Dad. Did you know I took a class on how to tell jokes?” (I don’t know how to translate the term “standup comedy”) You know. Where you tell jokes in front of a group of people to entertain them.
Dad: Oh yeah?
Mom: (Silence – continued sipping of her chicken noodle soup)
Me: Yeah. It’s fun. I’ve been having a good time with it.
Dad: That’s nice. Performing sounds exciting.
(Silence)
Dad: (To my mom) Did you want some of my pizza? It’s good.
Me: What do you think? It’s kinda cool right?
Mom: Well I don’t know. How much did the class cost?
Me: Oh. Well it was 8 weeks and we met each week for a few hours. I donno. over $200?
Mom: (Does mental calculations and writes them with her fingers on her palm) Oh well that’s not bad.
Mom: (To my dad) Here. Take this. I can’t finish any more.
Dad: Well if it’s interesting to you that’s good.
Mom: (Silence)
Me: What do you think about that Mom? (I just couldn’t let it go)
Mom: I don’t know if I like it. Because telling jokes is always those dirty jokes.  They always say bad things about their family members, too.  And people tell them at night in those dirty bars. They’re dangerous. Is that where you’re going? You have to be careful in those places.
Me: (But mom you have never gone outside of the house. How would you know?) It’s not like that mom. It’s fine. Not dangerous at all. People are nice.
Mom: Yeah well you’re only doing it for fun, right?
Me: Yeah.
Dad: You have to try this brocolli. It’s sweet.

Before we proceed, NOTE that my mom’s FIRST reaction was to ask how much the class cost and proceed to do precise calculations to see if I overpaid. Kudos to mom for staying in-character! I would expect nothing less.

Something that is typically considered frivolous like comedy and joke-telling was probably not what my parents had in mind for me we moved from Taiwan when I was five-years old. I probably built up the moment of telling them about doing stand-up a little bit in my mind because I didn’t know how negative their reaction would be. It wasn’t like I was announcing to them a whole new lifestyle – I was still keeping my day job (for the time being). What I did realize was that I could still feel like I was engaging with them and honoring my relationship with them by letting them know about this change in my life. I didn’t have to feel like my self-worth was pinned onto their support of my decision. It wasn’t like I said “Mom, Dad. I decided to become a private escort, turning tricks for money.” That, I’d imagine, may elicit more of an intervention. “Informing” them becomes more of a “courtesy” rather than a “request for approval.” Well, that’s kinda nice.

How about you? Did you ever have to have a “Coming Out” conversation about your creative pursuits with your family or loved ones? What was that like for you? What was their reaction? Or was it not a big deal at all? Holler.

14 Responses to ““Coming Out” to My Parents About Doing Standup Comedy”

  1. your loyal fan says : May 20, 2011 at 12:43 PM Editlove the inaugural post! i haven’t had a coming out moment but my mom totally does the whole calculations things on her palm a lot. looking fwd to more posts!
    • Jenny Yang says : May 21, 2011 at 10:54 AM Editawww…thanks “your loyal fan”! :-) i’m fixin’ to write regularly to get my creative juices flowin’! appreciate the feedback!! it’s what this is all about! 
  2. Patrick Ross says : May 20, 2011 at 6:23 PM EditThis is a great story, seems like it could work well in a comedy routine!I noted your mom went first for the $ analysis, but I really liked it when she shifted focus to suggest you were joining Fight Club… 
    • Jenny Yang says : May 21, 2011 at 10:56 AM EditThanks, Patrick! Man. That’s the hope! To translate some of my blog musings into my routine. :-)You got me figured out!Hahah! Yeah. I love my parents and they are like TWO generations older than me and I guess it’s to be expected that they’d think comedy was seedy and dangerous or something. Hahah! 
  3. Cindy says : May 30, 2011 at 5:42 AM EditSo mine was a coming out in the actual sense. A lot of feigned surprise, ’cause no one really was. Not really. …and then the whole “we didn’t raise you this way” crap. It’s all the same. Parents have expectations. It’s our job to disappoint them. :)You should most definitely work your coming out into your routine. It’s funny. Even better, it’s funny because it’s true.
    • Jenny Yang says : May 31, 2011 at 10:36 AM EditHahahah! That’s awesome Cindy. I really appreciate your point about how “it’s our job to disappoint them.” I’ve been thinking about that idea…like that there’s a difference between reacting to what your parents expect just to react and rebel VERSUS making a kind of choice within yourself about your path that may not happen to fall in line with you parents expecations. You know what I mean? I’ve been trying to figure out how one can make that distinction for themselves, especially if you are like an 8th grader or young high schooler who makes all these huge decisions about your life in just those tender years.And thanks for the encouragement! I’m definitely stoked to figure out a way to convert some of my blog material into my standup routine. Will DEFINITELY report back on how that goes!!!!
  4. cynthiahussey says : August 7, 2011 at 1:43 AM EditHey Jenny, Most of all, good for you for following your creative drives. I can’t wait for your podcast. I like its description at the top of your page. Congrats also on coming out to the folks. It’s true that we all fear disappointing them, because we so desperately want them to be proud of us.I’m actually unbelievably lucky in that department, and I’m sure there must be others, too. My parents are never disappointed by me. In fact, they’re proud of me, the aspiring screenwriter (and my brother, the aspiring magician). They have always been and still are completely supportive of my goals and efforts. I know I am amazingly fortunate. And I truly treasure my parents.So to anyone who’s a parent, here’s a small suggestion: be supportive of your kids and their ambitions. It really will help to create an amazing relationship with them.
    • Jenny Yang says : August 7, 2011 at 8:48 PM EditHi Cynthia! Thank you for the affirmation. Certainly, since I’ve embarked on my creative adventures in earnest I have actively surrounded myself with like-minded and supportive folks (including people like YOU online!). I have five episodes up on my site so DO feel free to stream or download:-) My parents have pretty much accepted my independent choices…mostly by not really asking about it. Hahah.It’s really great that you have parents who are proud of you for being a screenwriter (I say…drop the “aspiring” part.)What I love about ALL of this is I’ve been inspired to write a series of books that kids like my high school-age nephew can use to help them think through navigating parental expectations with their own self-development. Wish me luck!Do let me know what you think once you’ve listened to the podcasts! I would sincerely value your opinion, especially if there is anything discussed that you feel particularly useful for your own process. I’m going into a phase of feedback and focus right now to help me guide my new podcast format starting September.Cheers!
      Jenny Yang

       

  5. Brandon says : October 1, 2011 at 3:04 AM EditWow I feel the same way I tried to tell my mom I wanted to do stand-up and it was like I was telling her I wanted to smoke crack on my church’s steps. Plus I told her I didn’t want to go to college and so I went to college and flunked out and now our relationship is sloppy.
    • Jenny Yang says : October 1, 2011 at 10:23 AM EditOh man, Brandon! Sorry to hear about that. I think it’s often so challenging for parents to fight their instinct to want “stability” and “success” for their children and embrace such an unfamiliar career path like stand-up comedy. I guess it sucks that there isn’t as “clear” of a career path to comedic success than say becoming a successful lawyer, accountant or doctor. Harumph. Are you still doing stand-up now?
  6. drlisachu says : June 22, 2012 at 1:03 PM EditCourteous of you, indeed. I was laughing out loud because it reminded me of one of my clients’ telling me about a conversation with his mom about taking acting classes. It did not go as smoothly as yours!I found this site through your comedy one, and it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one with more than 3 websites representing “my work” these days.I am a proud “Bad Asian Daughter”, pursuing the creative life after getting a Harvard degree, a medical degree, having been a partner in a VC firm, and having owned my own violin school for kids in Silicon Valley. Now I live by the ocean, play in an acoustic rock duo (http://chinesemelodrama.com), work at REI part-time, and do life coaching for fellow human beings in need of creative soul recovery.LOVE what you’re doing and sharing in the world. Thank you! 
    • Jenny Yang says : July 10, 2012 at 10:42 AM EditI’m so glad you got a good laugh, Dr. Lisa! I love that you are life coaching now. Sounds like we may be cut from the same cloth, hahahah. We need more life coaches and healers who have been healing themselves! :-) 
  7. Dougie says : February 11, 2013 at 9:42 PM EditHey Jenny, I have always wanted to perform standup comedy. It’s has been my dream since I saw Jerry Seinfeld perform when I was a child. However, I have been reluctant to start getting up on stage since I feel my parents would not approve of me doing so. However, Jenny Ive wanted to chase this dream for too long and I cant keep what Im passionate about in any longer. I have taken several comedy classes and I even for my senior seminar in college studied the art of the joke and why we laugh. I just wanted to know how you gathered up the courage to tell your parents you were serious about comedy? I have a unique sense of humor and I have been told my sense of humor is unlike anyone then they have ever met. I’m not saying that my sense of humor is something that will automatically capture audiences but I would like to find out. So if you have any suggestions for me that would great. THANKS 
    • Jenny Yang says : March 1, 2013 at 3:29 PM EditHey Dougie! Sorry it took me so long to respond! I’ve been more active on my jennyyang.tv blog so find me over there! I’ve retired this CreativLife podcast :-)What I have to say is that you are on the right track if you have even committed your studies to the art of comedy. It shows you have a real passion for it! I think there are the right times in our lives for us to reveal such things to our parents, depending on what our relationship is with them and just where we personally are in terms of our commitment to the comedy craft. I told my parents FINALLY because I felt like comedy was becoming such a big part of my life, it would feel like i wasn’t being honest with them if I didn’t at least let them KNOW I was doing it. We don’t have a very “chatty” relationship anyway so just informing them would have been adequate. But I was glad I did it because it just makes for me to feel like a more “whole” person if I ever had to refer to it in conversation.What do you think about that? What are you afraid of if you had to tell your parents? Their reaction? Their disapproval? Would they disapprove so much that it would affect your life in a real and meaningful way? (eg. hurt your relationship with them, they’d “cut you off” financially etc.)

Dear Future Nervous Breakdown…

Dear Future Nervous Breakdown,

You suck. I know you’re coming. I tried to deny it. But it’s inevitable.  You visit once every adult decade and I know my time’s gonna be up. So I’m writing this letter to you. Oh and in case this letter isn’t enough, I also made up a Twitter account to send you messages as they come in. (twitter.com/ToMyFutureBD)

Screw YOU, Future Nervous Breakdown!

Screw YOU, Future Nervous Breakdown!

I’m preparing myself this time though.  I knew that since I started to put myself out there and write, perform and show my work more than ever that I’d get on your schedule (Fire your assistant, by the way, she has horrible phone presence. And if they still have them, get her some elocution classes).  My soul is weak sometimes.  I can only cycle through so many waves of self-doubt and blind optimism while making a living from writing and comedy until you decide that I’m so out of touch with myself you had to stop by and remind me.

I do not look forward to your visits. The first time you came I was in college and you pretty much blind-sided me. I cried every day because I realized I had that many tears to shed. I had repressed my feelings about…well..everything…so I said, I’m ACTUALLY going to tell my friends how I’m REALLY feeling. You know, I became that girl who was so committed to “emotional honesty” that whenever a friend in passing said, “Hey, Jenny! How’s it goin’?” I responded with “You know…I’m not doing so well these days. I’ve been a little depressed to be honest with you.”  Now the art of it all is knowing how to follow that up so that EVERY person you see doesn’t feel like they MUST sit down and lend a shoulder to cry on.  “Dude. How are you? We don’t need to get into it and all, I just wanted to be honest.” A couple of confused and tentative lines of small talk later, we were done.  Bumping into folks at the library does not make a good on-the-spot heart-to-heart. And even in those instances when I did end up having an impromptu chat session with someone who REALLY wanted to get into it, it was always so comforting and nice.  It wasn’t like they were taking away time I spent on studying. Oh no. That first time you came to visit, I stopped doing my schoolwork all together.  Now…how is it possible to have THREE incomplete courses for the semester when all you had were FOUR courses in total? I didn’t know how that worked until I decided to cry instead of pruning up the pages of my Constitutional Law book.

After a horrible attempt at talking to the therapist in psychological services for a month (How can a professional therapist make my session ABOUT HER?!) and three gut-wrenching poems (that will never see the light of day again) later, you left…leaving me to pick up the pieces without you. Stop doing so much at school, my advisor said. Maybe you’re busyness is your way of avoiding something you need to confront.  What I needed to confront was my own emotions and allowing myself to be vulnerable with the people who were closest to me. Aah. “Emotional honesty.”

After that, what I had to learn throughout most of my twenties was choosing the right person to trust with my emotional honesty.  It’s not like it would be SANE at ALL to be “emotionally honest” with just anyone and all the time! There are limits to the truth, especially when it comes to bus drivers, supervisors and sometimes friends.

Turns out I was really shitty at picking boyfriends because they were certainly not trustworthy of my emotions, and it actually is quite possible and grand to be honest pretty much all the time!  There are such things as tact, holding your tongue and choosing the right moment to say how you feel with difficult situations and people. If only I knew then what I know now.

Guess what?  All that emotional honesty nearly ALL the time? That’s the reason why I KNOW you are coming at this point. It’s gonna happen.  It’s all that commitment to honesty that got me into this kooky idea that I could make a living/lifestyle being a writer and comedian. That’s the exact reason for your second visit four years ago when I decided I had enough of my day job and it was time for me to find a professional that encouraged my honesty!

Instead of strategic planner and project manager, I would become comedian and writer! I will commit to professions that TRADE on honesty. The stock exchange of honesty is built on HONESTY chips of FAITH, BEING PRESENT and GUTLESS HUMILIATION (wait, that’s the stuff they trade on Wall Street, right? Chips? Or whatever). So yeah. My incentive nowadays is to be more honest than ever before. In fact, practicing the honesty muscle every single moment of every day is my life’s blood!  Telling a co-worker exactly what I think of them when they ask me directly, even if it’s in jest and in front of other co-workers means, well, I’m GONNA tell you that I don’t think much of you and in not so many words, say you are a shitty person. *shrugs* And guess what?  The world didn’t end!

((I wonder if Oprah feels this way. Does she bathe in baby’s tears because she can? I want to suckle on the teet of her eternal wisdom))

So I know. Because I’m committing myself to the craft and trade of “honesty” you My Future Nervous Breakdown is greasing the wheels of your bronze, Roman-looking chariot, just smiling at the sheen as the oil leaves the tip of your bulbous oil squeeze bottle and drizzles onto and around the axle carrying the mode of transportation that will send you blazing with blind horses atop storm clouds and flames and back into my life.

I’m about three and a half years into wearing this label of “comedian and writer”…so I’m giving it another year before you “hyah!” your way to my house. It’s a small condo. You’ll have to take my bed because surely I will be face-planted on my couch in front of my Netflix cue and the jar of peanut butter and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate-covered pretzel thins will be taking up substantial real estate.

So know this, Future Nervous Breakdown: I AM PREPARING LIKE A WARRIOR FOR YOUR ARRIVAL.  Every glazed look of a comedian boy at open mic, every non-response to fellowships and journals I submit, every shitty white person who feels like they need to educate me about my perspectives on race after a show, every heckler that says show me your titties, every voice inside my head that tells me I’m not good enough or funny enough so why am I even trying, every drunk acquaintance at happy hour who decides to ask me loudly, “tell me a joke then!” after I’m introduced as a stand-up comedian, every time I try a new idea and get no laughter…I will own it then quickly set it aside.

Every day I practice my muscle of emotional honesty I’m also practicing my skill in transforming all the associated reactions of SHAME, SELF-DOUBT, REJECTION, and INSECURITY into FIRE – FIERCE FLAMES OF MY SPIRIT THAT WILL OVERWHELM YOUR SPINELESS ASS. Because in the end, you are a coward, hiding behind your duty to bring gloom and havoc on people’s lives. You’re just a middle-level bureaucrat logging your time, clocking in and out of your day, checking off the people you need to terrorize because, to be honest, you have nothing better to do. That stupid helmet with the red brush on top looks horrible on you by the way. Talk to your people about getting a new look.  *I* did. I get to wear brightly-colored sneakers now.

Screw you,

Jenny

Dear Now-Jenny, Love Early-20s-Jenny

Early-20s-Jenny DEFinitely hung out around loud speakers more than Now-Jenny.

Early-20s-Jenny DEFinitely hung out around loud speakers more than Now-Jenny.

You really never know what you’ll find when you unearth emails from old accounts (aol.com or yahoo mail, anyone?).

I just couldn’t resist sharing this never-published gem, a little journal essay I wrote myself when I was in the throes of building my first career in public affairs and figuring it all out. This essay was written during my Coro Fellowship government sector placement at the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles.

Now-Jenny, I’d like to re-introduce you to Early-20s-Jenny.

Before you read this entry, some thoughts:

  1. I finally took the advice of this supervisor MANY years later.
  2. I was not quite a “20-20-20.” Thank goodness.
  3. My statement about my personal mission still pretty much holds true.
  4. In lieu of memos, I now write stories and jokes, and I’m loving it.
  5. Did I know I’d eventually pursue comedy and writing as a career many years later?
  6. I think I need to get back in touch with that supervisor.

If you get through this, let me know what you think. Have you ever uncovered old writing you forgot about? What did it reveal about you? How’d you feel about what you read?

from the bowels of Ronald Reagan

As I sit and write, Cali’s big bad governor Gray is above my head ready to nominate a moderate brown brother to the state supreme court.  I think to myself, “why me?”  Why am I sitting amidst all the titles, cocky politics and minimalist gray walls?  Why am I sitting in the bowels of the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles under the name of a Republican president in a democratic society when independence is all anyone wants?

Perhaps to see the finely greased machinery of state government churn?

Push the limits on the amount of personal emails I can blast off from my posh State office? (since most of the regular occupants spend much of their time in Sacramento)

No.  It’s so that I can be thankful for the wonderful feng shui (fohng sway) of my workspace; I can clearly see the doorway from my desk – no backs to the door here.

It’s because the Grand Central Market is just a quick weave through two short blocks of homeless vagrants and downtown dilapidation where I can quickly grab me
a 2 dollar gordita with a juicy chopped charbroiled breast of chicken, all the lettuce, tomato and cilantro fixins, and no beans please.  LAWD!  It’s a tasty treat fit for a queen! (or a downtown rat like myself)

It’s so that my supervisor can get to work at 10, and leave at 3 so that he can yell at me at 5 from his cell phone to “GO HOME!”

My new super’ Jorge, and yes you’d say it in Spanish (Hoar-Hay), imparts his half-century’s worth of wisdom on me at strange moments when we work.

“Life is not about accumulating or achieving.”

“In your lifetime, you answer to no one in the end but yourself.”

“Life is about experiencing, giving, and feeling the appreciation from others whom you have touched.”

“Don’t be a 20-20-20. (what’s that?) A 20-something year old working 20 hours a day for 20 thousand dollars a year”

I got two 20s down…and twill never be combined with 20 hour work days (so help me God).

He’s a renaissance man and free spirit with an eagle eye for understanding people quickly.  He knows more about me in two working days than some friends may
know from 10 years of friendship.

He engages in driveby life-probing.

“What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?  Really.”
(uh…-shift in seat- I guess I’ll be…)
“No.  It’s okay.  You can get back to me on that.”

I want to teach.  Educate.  Mentor.  Encourage little people with little lives to think BIG in hopes that they live BIG.

So I look back at my Dell computer screen, and blink a few times to shake off the radiation.  It’s probably time to write a Memo or something.

Jenny’s Mid-Year Creative Review 2012

As a natural extrovert I find that public declarations of stuff I need to do helps A LOT to keep me on track when it may feel like a daunting task.  So when I saw Kiyoung’s blog, “mid year creative review 2012,” I had to follow his lead. Brilliant idea.

Let’s try this out.

Top Creative Goals & Accomplishments for 2012

Writing

  1. Get a paid “foot-in-the-door” TV industry job – ideally something related to writing but production work also valuable.
  2. Finish my first 3 spec scripts in life ever.
  3. Write 1 pilot and 3 series pitches.
  4. Develop a series of short comedic monologues and put on a show.
  5. Write a comedic web series.
  6. Self-publish my short book idea.

Stand-up Comedy

  1. Produce and perform in a successful all female, Asian American stand-up comedy show
  2. Win a stand-up comedy competition
  3. Write and record 8 comedic songs.
  4. Perform for and rock non-Los Angeles audiences

Writing

1. Get a full-time “foot-in-the-door” TV industry job – ideally something related to writing but production work also valuable.

Done! I’ve been self-employed as a writer, comedian and organizer for the past year and a half.  And thankfully, I found myself a full-time Assistant to Line Producer job on a network sitcom!  I start very soon. This will be my first “industry” job. I hope to learn a bunch of stuff.  Wish me luck!

2. Finish my first 3 spec scripts in life ever.

Parks and Rec spec script: Done!  Phew. 2 more to go. (And quite honestly, rewrite of said Parks and Rec spec script must happen)  I’ve really been obsessed with Archer. Might I attempt their witty repartee and kooky characters?  Another candidate is Suburgatory – not the most highly-rated of the freshman shows but I LOVE it. (Now if only I can figure out a way to incorporate Battlestar Galactica into all this…hmm)

3. Write 1 pilot and 3 series pitches.

Not done.  Been marinating on a couple of ideas.  Lots of brainstorming on paper and with writing confidants.  Maybe an Asian American Freaks & Geeks based on growing up in the South Bay of Los Angeles? And then I discover this gem.  Oh well. Back to the drawing board.

4. Develop a series of short comedic monologues and put on a show.

I’ve written five, two to five minute comedic monologues for my favorite comedic actor friends.  Okay.  Really, I’ve written three and a half because some of those five monologues need a bit beefing up.  These first drafts were performed in a semi-cold read at my home for some close friends. My first time hearing other people interpret and perform my creative writing!  I know! Crazy. I’ve only written for myself to perform! How selfish of me.  This intimate reading was magical. The actors sublime.

Next steps?  My actress/writer friend was inspired to write some monologues of her own.  We decided we must hone these monologues enough to create a staged reading for the public later this year.

5. Write a comedic web series.

Not done. However, I recently found potential collaborators/producers interested in having me write for a concept I really love. Let’s see where this partnership leads.

I’ve also been doing some consulting with an upstart weekly pop culture review show based out of an established entertainment company.

6. Self-publish my short book idea.

Not done. Just gotta schedule time for it. It involves hand-writing…collaging and scanning.

Stand-up Comedy

1. Produce and perform in a successful all female, Asian American stand-up comedy show

DONE! So proud of this. We did the kickoff show of http://disorientedcomedy.com and it was sold-out and a hit! The show’s going on the roooooaaad! San Diego. November 2012.

2. Win a stand-up comedy competition

Nope. But I placed 3rd out of 90. Not bad.

3. Write and record 8 comedic songs.

Tapioca Milk Tea. One.
I Need FroYo. Two.
Cafe Sua Da. (Half Done) Three.
___________
___________
___________
___________
___________

Got me a producers/sound engineer on board whenever I’m ready. Yay, Mosaic!

4. Perform for and rock non-Los Angeles audiences

Done.  East coast tour. Well, does doing shows in 2 cities count as a tour?  Washington, DC did the fundraiser for APAICS at the Kennedy Center (What a stage!), Busboys and Poets, DC then The Creek & Cave in New York!

YELLOW.

YELLOW.
by Jenny Yang. March 13, 2012
(written for Monk Turner’s upcoming color concept album)

Yellow with an attitude.

Yellow is supposed to be mellow, but I disagree.
Yellow is much more assertive than you think.
Less butter. More sunshine.
Less autumn leaves. More highlighter.
I don’t know how we got this reputation.
Mellow Yellow?
Perhaps Yellow felt too bright when it first arrived.
The other colors didn’t know what to make of her.
Red was Fiery.
Orange was Offbeat.
Pink? Well…you know Pink.
Pink was just Above-it-all.
Yellow had to Pale in comparison.
That was the spectrally-acceptable thing to do.
You know how groups of color can be.
Follow our rules or you don’t play.
But it’s a different time now.
Yellow no longer needs to be mellow.
We can embrace the more outstanding qualities of our hue.
When we arrive. You will notice.
When we show up. You have been warned.
Don’t. Fuck. With. Yellow.
And now you know.