Brooklyn’s 50 Funniest People: Bowen Yang

Bowen Yang
Bowen Yang’s comedic presence is widely varied. Sure, you can see him around Brooklyn in the usual spots; along with Sam Taggart, he has co-created the serial comedy Lake Homo High at the Annoyance and produced the semi-regular Live on Broadgay, a dramatic reading of Sex and the City episodes starring gay men (and Jo Firestone) at Littlefield. (And you can find him in Manhattan, too, performing with the musical sketch group Pop Roulette at UCB and serving as the bailiff at the shadiest small claims courtroom in town, Drag Court at The PIT.) He’s also turned up in scene-stealing roles on Broad City and The Outs.
While you could make a claim that it’s his hair that gives him his edge, you’d be doing a disservice to his unparalleled exuberance as a performer. He even manages to entertain those with the shortest of attention spans with his manic, theme park-set horror comedies Four Nights in Orlando and One Night in Anaheim, which you can find on his Instagram.
When was the first time you remember making someone laugh? What happened?
When I was four and I did a sensual striptease to a Celine Dion video in front of my family. My sister was hysterically laughing and my parents were like “Nooooooooo…”
What is the toughest part about being on the comedy scene in Brooklyn today? What is the best?
The toughest part about being on the Brooklyn comedy scene today is the looming threat of global warfare. The best part is that there’s no shortage of people who are both inspired in their work and also willing to help you. I used to think that someone’s talent was inversely correlated with how generous they are with their time, but I’ve found the opposite to be true, and I think that’s somewhat specific to Brooklyn.
Who do you find funny?
My best friends Matt Rogers and Sudi Green are the two funniest people in the world. It sounds like such biased hyperbole drivel but I really believe that to be empirically true. Sam Taggart, Jo Firestone and Julio Torres are all my heroes.
Beyond that I think there’s a great gay heritage of comedians and humorists that’s still terribly overlooked. I was watching some old clips of Paul Lynde on “Hollywood Squares” and he was so quick and so good that you HAD to get on board with him because he was so undeniably funny, but his legacy is reduced to being the protozoan snarky queen, which seems unfair. RuPaul is a comedic genius every time he’s in drag, and when Quentin Crisp joked about AIDS being a fad, people were rightfully shocked, but you had to admire the irreverence of that in the face of something so horrifying.
What was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
The last time tears welled in my eyes without leaving them was during one of Naomi Ekperigin’s stand-up sets. The last time tears streamed down my face was when my dad pronounced Donald Trump’s name “Darnell Truff.” Naomi and my dad both deserve to be on this list even though neither of them live in Brooklyn.
What are your goals for your comedy career?
The only mandate I have on myself is try and work until 2040 when humanity reaches The Singularity and everyone will be rich forever. Shorter term, my five-year plan is to collect residuals for playing a “preferably Asian computer expert” on the “24″ reboot and live in the Maldives. But mostly I want to be able to sit in a green room before a show and be about 40% less nervous before I go onstage.
And finally: What is your favorite knock-knock (or otherwise goofy) joke?
A @bridger_w tweet: “Surprise your partner in bed by dying in your sleep.”

To see 49 more of Brooklyn’s funniest people, click here

Photo by Nicolas Maloof.


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