Saturday Night Live has their First Chinese American Actor Ever this Season, Let's Get to Know Him

 

Saturday Night Live has been on since the 70s, and it has catapulted the careers of some of the biggest names in comedy: Martin Short, Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meddows, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler to name just a few. Despite how you feel about the show, it’s ability to showcase and catapult talent is unmatched.

 SNL has in the past been one of the more progressive shows, usually leaning towards the left as evidenced by the Alec Baldwin Trump skits that are commonplace on the show. That being said, they are often seen as being ahead of the curve, showcasing talents of those who might not otherwise get a shot. This is why when I found out they cast their first ever Chinese-American comedian on the show, I was actually a bit shocked.       

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Bowen Yang is a 28 year old comedian from Colorado who was voted “Most Likely to Be a Cast Member on Saturday Night Live,” by his classmates. Inspired by Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy, he graduated from NYU in microbiology with the intention of becoming a doctor, but decided instead to pursue his passion for comedy. From there, he started a podcast with friend Matt Rogers called Las Culturistas which was met which much acclaim from audiences and critics alike. 

    Yang has stated that he was always a fan of SNL, but was never able to see himself on it due to it’s lack of representation, so when he was ultimately hired as a writer in 2018, it was likely shocking to him, though unsuprising to those who had followed his comedy. He was promoted to cast member for season 45, and in his two episodes on air has already made a splash with his take on the Chinese trade representative Chen Biao and other memorable politcal skits. He even garnered approval from Lizzo by referncing her song “Truth Hurts” in his sketch.   

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    Now why is this important? SNL, a show that often propels comedians to the top, has finally included a demographic that is often overlooked in comedy. When Awkwafina hosted, she was one of only two asian hosts to ever grace the SNL stage. This is an important shift in a growingly diverse world of entertainment, and this is a step in the right direction, especially in light of one of the former potential cast members Shane Gillis being accused of performing racially insensitive jokes against asian people. This controversy only heightens why it is important to have representation: it brings down the walls that divide us, uniting us, and in terms of comedy, making us all laugh together.

 

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