As part of Assaulted Fish’s 10-year anniversary, we asked some of our closest friends, fans and families for their memories of the past decade. Today we present our conversation with Rob Ho.
Rob is currently a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His dissertation research compares the public university experiences of second-generation Asian Canadian and Asian American students in Vancouver and Los Angeles. He previously taught in the Asia-Canada Program at SFU and in sociology at Douglas College. He teaches in the Asia-Canada Program at SFU. Raised in Kamloops, Rob received his BA from Carleton University and MA from the University of Toronto.
Rob didn’t submit a head shot but this is an image that came up when we Googled his name.
How does Assaulted Fish push comedic boundaries beyond stereotypical humour?
Their brand of humour transcends the trap of simple stereotypes that comedians can easily fall into that can actually perpetuate the existence of Asian cultural stereotypes. For instance, constantly joking that Asian Canadians are cheap without finding ways to deconstruct why cheapness is a stereotype can essentially reinforce the belief that Asians are indeed extremely frugal. The Fishies are able to find creative yet humourous ways to make their audiences think about issues that effect Asians in Canada without always beating you over the head about racism and Asian stereotypes.
You’ve lived and worked in the US and Canada. What differences are there between Asian-American and Asian-Canadian humour?
This is a difficult question to answer.
Having lived in Los Angeles and seen several West Coast Asian American groups perform, it seems quite clear that US comedy troupes are very politicized and will really confront current issues affecting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders head on. They can be much more brash and outspoken about the ways US Asians are demonized. For instance, the “Tiger Mom” and Alexandra Wallace’s ‘Asians in the Library’ YouTube video are two issues that the American groups produced very quick and direct humourous responses to. I wouldn’t claim that the Fishies represent all types of Asian Canadian humour, but compared to the American groups, the Fishies often have less direct and more nuanced retorts to these sorts of events and tend not refer to specific incidents.
What surprises you the most about Assaulted Fish?
I really appreciate the Fishies’ ability to not constantly need to joke about racial or ethnic issues to be funny. They may be an Asian Canadian comedy troupe, but their racial makeup doesn’t define their comedy and what they find funny about life and the social interactions that occur in it. The diversity of personalities and the ways in which Diana, Nelson, Marlene, and Kuan see the world differently – including their racialized experiences – leads to a rich expression of humour that I have yet to see from any other Asian Canadian comedy troupe.
Congrats Assaulted Fish on ten great years! I’m happy to have witnessed your longevity and to be the occasional butt of your jokes. May the next several years bring audiences continued laughter and thought-provoking humour!
(Interview by Linda Ong)
As part of Assaulted Fish’s 10-year anniversary, we asked some of our closest friends, fans and families for their thoughts and memories of the past decade. Today we present our conversation with Hayne Wai.
Hayne is a long time resident of Vancouver who has been active in Chinatown/Strathcona advocacy for more than 35 years promoting community development, cultural understanding and acceptance and public education. He is a founding member and past president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C. and has served on a number of federal, provincial, municipal, and university advisory boards on anti-racism, diversity and multiculturalism.
Hayne was the policy manager for the BC Ministry of Multiculturalism, working with the public, private, and non-profit sectors in multiculturalism and anti-racism initiatives to better serve the culturally diverse needs of the province and was a sessional instructor at UBC’s Faculty of Education and Social Work, teaching courses on social issues in education. No stranger to topical satire, he is the creator of the “Stakeout in Anglo-town” training video series.
Hayne received the 25th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal in 1992 in recognition for his significant contributions to his fellow citizens and community and always conducts himself with the dignity expected of a Confederation Medal recipient:
He is an avid Canucks fan and chicken wing aficionado.
What makes Assaulted Fish quintessentially Canadian?
Assaulted Fish presents made-in-Canada humour on the unique daily experiences of community members. The troupe offers amusing and serious reflections on the trials and tribulations of being Asian in Canada.
You’ve been a long-time supporter of Assaulted Fish – what did you find most interesting about their early days of comedy?
I’ve known the Fish from their first days and have been an avid supporter of their innovative work. From their earliest days they were so refreshingly humourous (and still are!) and showcased societal themes that had not been highlighted before. Comedy and satire are unique tools in deconstructing cross-cultural issues and developing dialogue and the Fish do this well.
How have you seen the group evolve over the last ten years?
They’ve developed with solid confidence as performers, innovators, creative writers, and satirists. For the last 8 years the Fish have been featured performers at the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C. AGM dinners. They have creatively joined in toasting and roasting our annual honoured guests with overwhelming appreciation and laughter from attendees. What clearly shows is how the members of the troupe enjoy performing together. It’s just not another gig, it’s an entertaining collective performance communicating some serious society themes of ethnicity, race, gender and sexuality.
Congratulations to Assaulted Fish on their 10th Anniversary and I look forward to another ten years of comedy and critical satire!
(Photo courtesy of Hayne Wai – Interview by Linda Ong)
As part of Assaulted Fish’s 10-year anniversary, we asked some of our closest friends, fans and families for their memories of the past decade. Today we present our conversation with international fan, Mike Chang.
Mike Chang is a Vancouver Ex-Pat who now lives in Korea but continues to follow us for some reason. (Thank you, Internet.)
He wants everyone to know that he was into and over Gangnam Style before you were.
We spotted him at our Powell Street Festival show this August and forced him to answer questions.
First impressions count. What was your first recollection of Assaulted Fish’s earlier performances?
I’ve only seen AF perform live a total of three times and I just remember them being so energetic and creative. You got a feeling that they were willing to try anything out. Pretty adventurous stuff. They still are kind of that way, but they’re definitely honed their techniques pretty well nowadays.
You live in Korea now and I hear you try to catch a Fishie performance whenever you’re back in Vancouver – are they the most exciting thing since kimchi in your opinion?
At the risk of being run out of Korea, yes, they are the most exciting thing since kimchi.
Do you have a favorite (or most memorable) Assaulted Fish sketch?
The best sketch that comes to mind is the first one they did at Powell Street this summer – the Subtextual News. So hilarious and spot on observations of the interactions between media personalities and why we watch it. Great piece.
Lastly, do you think any of the Assaulted Fish members might have a successful solo career as a K-Pop superstar?
I think if Psy can make it, then anyone can!
(Interview by Linda Ong)