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Bowen Yang's Call to "Do More" About Anti-Asian Hate Crimes on SNL

  • On Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" last night, Bowen Yang managed to thread the needle on how to speak out about the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes with serious passion while also finding a way to make it funny. After taking issue with being introduced as "Asian Cast Member Bowen Yang" (and then admitting he asked for that intro to "set up" Colin Jost), he went into a piece that made clear his discomfort of being in the position of having to give this speech, but also impressed upon us all his absolute frustration about how widespread the problem is and how much more needs to be done.

    "Things for Asians in this country have been bleak for the past two weeks and all the weeks before that since forever, but there's a lot of work to do," Yang said, before doing a bit where he shares posts he found online with action items to help, and then listing things hyper-specific to his personal needs, such as getting more Paneras in North Brooklyn and getting senators to know about the lesbian characters on Sailor Moon.

    When Jost pushed him on how helpful these suggestions are, that's when things got real. "What can I say to help how insanely bad things are?" he said. "If someone's personality is 'punch an Asian grandma,' it's not a dialogue. I have an Asian grandma, you want to punch her, there ain't no common ground, mama. I see my friends donating, and I tell them that's great, but then I also tell them do more. Like, okay, you're ordering from Chinese restaurants, great, do more. Let me know when you feed your white kids chicken feet. You cried during Minari? Congrats. I was sobbing into my boner for Steven Yeun. Do more. Why are you telling me that you tipped your manicurist well? Let me know when you get on your knees and scrub her feet while she looks at your phone. Do more."

    "Look, I can't address any of this without bringing up class or gender or imperialism," he continued. "I don't even want to be doing this 'Update' piece. I wanted to do my character, Gay Passover Bunny, but it's too smart for the show... I'm just a comedian, I don't have the answers, but I'm not just looking for them online. I'm looking around me. The GoFundMe for Xiao Zhen Xie, the grandmother who fought back against her attacker raised $900,000, which she immediately gave back to the community. That's where we are as Asians. Now come meet us there." 

    Yang then offered some encouragement. "In Mandarin, there is a cheer that goes 'jiayou,' which basically means 'fuel up.' I don't know what's helpful to say to everyone, but that's what I say to myself. Fuel up. Do more. It's the year of the metal ox, which basically means 'a car,' so everyone get in, buckle up, it's no pee breaks, we ride at dawn, grandmas!" 

    He then closed with a plea to save Kim's Convenience, which has been abruptly canceled after five seasons.

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    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Saturday Night Live, NBC, Bowen Yang, Colin Jost