The Fishies were recently interviewed by Felicity Wang for the Vancouver Chinese newspaper, Sing Tao. You can read the original Chinese article here, or you can try your luck with the following version, courtesy of the randomly accurate Google Translate:
“Salted” decades into the mainstream comedy sketch show to help change the stereotype of Asian [2013-09-29]
Photo : reporter Wang Lu
” We want to break the stereotype of Asian society (stereotype), the diversity of the sketch comedy show to bring more viewers .” Composed by a group of Asian Vancouver comedy troupe ” salted ” (Assaulted Fish) members pointed symbol Yongkuan they spent ten years into the predominantly white areas show and will continue to move forward.
Fu Chinese Deng Minling Yongkuan with another regiment , in conjunction with the square surnamed Yang Mingdaiannuo Korean members (Diana Bang), Saturday to accept the ” Sing Tao Daily ” interview , recalled ” salted ” integral to the 10th anniversary traversed road.
Turning into the group an opportunity to break Yongkuan said he read in the local ” comedy ” show, found that some Asian or Asian performers, will be manufactured in Asian stereotype humor , such as the Asian drivers driving habits are well, Asian dare eat any living thing and so on. He said that he and like-minded members of the establishment ” salted ” , is to break these stereotypes to explore death , aging, homosexuality , the outside world seems relatively taboo topic among the Asian population .
Fu Yongkuan example that they once five years ago at the Greyhound bus (Greyhound bus) , and the passengers sitting next beheading Chinese murderer Weiguang (Vince Li) as a blueprint for the press , created three roles have heard the killer is Aboriginal, Caucasian and Chinese , the biased discussion , and finally by the first four characters points out , people watch the news , we should not look at ethnicity , but Greyhound bus in the event of casualties situation.
Asian taboo topics discussed Dengmin Ling said they were in the creation of the script, not out of Asian identity , but the use of ethnic background , combined living or current affairs , with a humorous plot, so that more people watch comedy, feel both humor, while reflection of life.
Fang Diana admitted that although the theater performances meager salary , but it is their rare creative platform , but also to like her petite stature Korean woman , but also on the stage ” playing the ghost horse play ,” enjoy the play .
Dengmin Ling said that this year once again at the Fringe Festival performances are well on their 10th anniversary commemoration . ” Salted ” by the obscurity , has three times to participate in many local theaters are yearning for the Vancouver Fringe Festival (Vancouver Fringe Festival), as well as to the United States Seattle Theatre.
” Salted ” welcome Chinese and more ethnically diverse audience, in October 25th to Vancouver ” Heart of the City Festival” (Heart of the City Festival), watch their performances. For more information , you can log in. http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com browsing.”
(Photo by Felicity Wang)
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, our conversation with Seattle’s Maggie Lee.
Maggie Lee – an embarrassment of talent
Maggie Lee is the lead sketch writer, as well as a performer, tech director, and panda wrangler for the Pork Filled Players, Seattle’s Asian American sketch comedy group, and designs lights, and props for many Seattle fringe theatres. She also writes plays that reflect her love of comedy, fantastical science fiction, and horror. Most recently her play The Clockwork Professor played to sold-out audiences at the Theatre Off Jackson. In 2011, she moderated a panel on Asian American Women & Comedy at the National Asian American Theater Conference in Los Angeles, and was featured twice in the REPRESENT! Multicultural Playwrights’ Festival Local Writers Showcase at ACT. Much to our envy, she was recently profiled on Angry Asian Man. Maggie loves pie, pirates and puppets and she hates people who step in poo (Nelson).
Maggie Lee with Matt Dela Cruz, Narea Kang and May Nguyen of the Pork Filled Players – an embarrassment of laughs
What similarities do you see between PFP and AF?
The Pork and The Fish are two Asian North American sketch groups who have been making comedy for double-digit years! Our groups both feature 50% or more female Asian American/Canadian sketch comedians, and weirdly we both have Korean gals with giant noggins on our teams. And we both love chocolate, and backrubs, and long walks on the beach.
It’s a perfect match!
Has the way both groups matured over the years been similar or divergent?
I think the two groups have grown in the same way by moving past all the “typical” Asian jokes about crazy grandmas and stinky foods, and evolving into comedy that is more uniquely tailored to our individual strengths as writers and performers. PFP and AF both embrace a similar nerdy, absurdist kind of humor, but we express it in very distinctive ways – our comedy styles are very different, which makes it extra fun when we get to perform together.
What do you wish Assaulted Fish fans knew about the group?
You know that they’re funny, but I wish all the fans knew what truly awesome friends they are! We have gotten to perform with them many times over the years, and honestly you will not meet a sketch group who is more supportive and generous in sharing a stage. And if you ever need a good laugher in your audience, get Nelson – his laugh is so infectious that it magically tickles any crowd into having a great time!
What do you admire the most about Assaulted Fish?
I really admire their precision – they are so incredibly well-rehearsed that there’s never a single movement or word wasted, and yet it always looks completely natural and organic. Also, they are true masters of using silence in their sketches. As a contrast, PFP’s comedy style is pretty frenetic, packed boom-boom-boom with jokes, and lots of running around and falling down. But the Fishies know just how to use silence and stillness to punch up the absurdity in the situation. It tears you up a little inside while it also making you laugh. It’s kind of an amazing super power, actually.
What are some of your favorite Assaulted Fish sketches/characters and why?
This was such a tough question, because I was thinking “Oh, the beat poem about death!”, and then “No, Sanitizer!”, and then “Oh no, Queen of Burnaby!” But I’m gonna go way back and pick their modern dance masterpiece “Lychee” featuring Diana as the little fruit. They did that sketch in Seattle for a late night SketchFest show back years ago when we were just starting to get to know each other, and I nearly wet my pants laughing. That’s right. It was so funny that it almost caused spontaneous adult urination.
When some of the Fishies stay overnight at your place for their Seattle gigs, do they leave behind a Canuck smell?
Oh yes. They’re like a maple-glazed donut air freshener. Mmmm donuts.
(Interview by Linda Ong – Photo of Maggie by Karen Wilson – Photo of the Pork Filled Players courtesy of the Pork Filled Players – Photo of Maggie on the Beach and the Seoul Sistas by Kuan Foo)
*Maggie wishes to make it clear that she was dressed this way for an 80s themed sketch show. This not repeat NOT her regular attire. That is all.
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, our conversation with the brilliant and hilarious Morgan Brayton.
It is difficult to know what to say about Morgan because she very likely has said it better herself. So let’s start with what it says on her website:
“Canadian Comedy Award nominee Morgan Brayton makes her home in Vancouver, British Columbia (that’s in Canada) where she performs, writes and enjoys vegan cupcakes with her wife, her two amazing kids and an excessive number of cats. Morgan is the writer/performer of the award-winning and critically acclaimed one-person shows Girls Like Me and Raccoonery!. She was half of the comedy duo The Crawford Twins and a former member of the popular sketch troupe 30 Helens. Morgan has been a featured performer at Toronto’s We’re Funny That Way Festival, the Vancouver Comedy Festival, Seattle SketchFest and on CBC’s The Debaters and played Mickey Dolenz in a self-produced biopic. Possibly. Morgan is also an in-demand event emcee who can be found hosting everything from burlesque shows to awards galas. An accomplished film and television actor, Morgan can be seen on big and small screens everywhere in a wide range of roles such as: Chubby Best Friend, Second Cashier and Person with Face.”
Morgan played a very important role at the beginning of Assaulted Fish’s career (for more on that see the previous blogpost “To All the Troupes We’ve Loved Before”). She has been a mentor, an inspiration, a patron and a friend.
Holy moley – a decade has passed! What has been most notable for you in seeing Assaulted Fish evolve over the last 10 years?
The fact that they still exist after ten years is amazing! And that it’s not just Marlene performing with different people every show, clinging to the name Assaulted Fish, embarrassing herself trying to hold on to the glory days like the guy from Bay City Rollers. Ten years is truly remarkable for any performing group and I don’t know of many comedy groups who last nearly as long so clearly, they have something special going on.
Assaulted Fish fondly call you their mentor – what advice have you given to the group in the early days?
I don’t mean to brag but I am the one who started calling them Ass Fish. You’re welcome. I don’t know if I’ve ever given them any advice. I gave them gigs which is actually much more valuable.
What are some of your fave Assaulted Fish sketches and/or characters and why?
I really love that there is a diversity of styles in their shows, nicely representing the sensibilities of the writers behind them, yet tied together by their signature Ass Fish-ness. But my favourites have to be the more absurd ones. Diana as the lychee stands out. She is just a tiny bundle of hilarity. And the original Sacred & Profane sketch still fills me with giggles. But I love Nelson’s fearlessness (or is it shamelessness?) as he dives into his goofy characters. I love watching Marlene play the straight man then surprise an audience with her ridiculousness. I love the way Kuan’s brain works in his writing and how that cleverness is palpable in his performances too. He’s delightful to watch. Darcey’s “Safety” foreman still pops into my head now and then to entertain me and Yumi has a likeability to her performing that I will always, always love. It is really a special group of people who found each other and who make up this kickass troupe.
How has a troupe like Assaulted Fish paved the way for other comedy groups and comedians?
I think Ass Fish has set the bar really high for groups that have another aspect to their group in addition to comedy. As a “pan-Asian Canadian comedy troupe”, being Asian informs what they do. Of course it does. But there can be a tendency for such groups to use their non-comedic element as a crutch rather than a driving force. (As a queer, female comedy performer I know something of this.) The fish don’t rely on that crutch. They don’t rely on stereotypes to get easy laughs, nor do they accept that they have a niche audience. They don’t. Their audience is broad because they are good. They are smart. They are funny. They are professional. They are slick. The writing is strong. The performances are solid. They speak to and from an Asian perspective but they never let that be enough. I think they have paved the way for more troupes and comedians to be true to their stories and perspectives while continually striving to be the best they can be which, at the end of the day, is what great comedy is, right? Truth. Good story telling. A clear perspective. And finely honed performance skills. Yup, that’s some good comedy right there.
What surprises you the most about Assaulted Fish?
That they still talk to each other after ten years.
If you had to describe Assaulted Fish as a reality show, what would it be? Why?
Ugh, I hate reality television. And I love Assaulted Fish so I can’t even think about this possibility. But I will say that, if it were one of those elimination shows where someone gets killed / voted off every week, my money would be on Marlene because she is quiet but cunning. So, Marlene would win and surprise everyone. Except Kuan is a lawyer so he can’t be trusted at all and would probably find a way to cheat and win. I know, I know, he’s not that kind of lawyer but he’s still a Sneaky Pete! Yup, Kuan would definitely kill another human being in order to win. Okay, so my money would be on Kuan. Hmmm … wait, no one would expect cute-faced Diana. But I can personally attest to her having a wicked mean streak. I’m not going to go into how I know but let me just say I have the scars and high insurance premiums to prove it. So I’m going to change my vote to Diana. Oh, I know what you’re thinking: what about Mr. Popularity, Nelson? Wouldn’t he charm the judges and get the public vote? Wouldn’t he get the coveted rose and marry the farmer? Good grief, it’s like you people don’t even understand how these shows work. Obviously Nellie would get the spin off Honey Boo Boo show. Okay, so my money’s on Marlene. Or Kuan. Or Diana. But probably that Chris guy who is stepping in for Nelson in the Fringe. I hear he’ll do anything for a part.
(Morgan headshot by Michele Brayton – Morgan and Kuan by Nelson Wong – 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)