Dear Pork Filled Productions (née Pork Filled Players) AKA “The PFPs”,
Happy 20th Birthday from your Canadian cousins!
Twenty years is long time to be doing anything – not to mention doing it well. For the past two decades, through the vehicle of comedy, the PFPs have been an industrious, energetic and inspirational megaphone for diversity, amplifying stories that need to be told and gleefully staking out a place for the marginalized. And they’re not even old enough to drink yet.
If we had to pick three words to describe the PFPs, they would be “Yummy”, “Funny” and “Generous.” The next three words would probably be “Important” followed by various sloppy, kissing sounds and then finally “Generous” again, because that’s important enough to mention twice. You simply cannot tell the story of the PFPs without talking about their generosity – the generosity of their spirit, the generosity of their talent, and the generosity of their mission.
We first encountered the PFPs at a sketch comedy competition held a long time ago in a faraway land (well, actually 2003 in Vancouver, Canada). We were a bunch of rookie upstarts in khaki pants with the ridiculous name, Assaulted Fish. They were the polished veterans. They sang! They danced! They ate fire! We were immediately struck by two things: number one, “Holy Cow, these Americans are really funny!” and number two, “Wow, they’re super nice people, too!” And also a third fleeting thought, “Who’s this Roger Tang guy who seems to be lurking around in the background all the time? He doesn’t ever seem to be doing anything…”
Ah, what fools we were.
It could have ended there but it didn’t (and this is where the generosity part really starts). Unbeknownst to us, the PFPs were keeping tabs on us; not in an obsessive, creepy way, but enough to know that we had lasted longer than the usual two-year mayfly existence of most sketch comedy troupes. And here’s the thing: they invited us down to Seattle to perform with them. Not once, not twice, but year after year after year. They shared their stage with us. They shared their audience with us. They even shared their living quarters with us, despite the fact that not all of us are regular bathers. But more than anything, they shared their mission with us. Watching the PFPs in action confirmed for us that it was possible to use comedy to tell powerful, inclusive, entertaining stories through our unique perspective as Asian North Americans. We all have stories to share, and they’re valid and worthy and most of all, ours to give voice to.
Over the years, it has been thrilling to watch the PFPs evolve from a sketch comedy troupe to a full-fledged theatre company. Similarly, it has been exciting to see the individual members change and grow in their artistry even if their paths eventually led them away from the main group.
Little did we know on that day so long ago, when we first saw them march across the stage dressed like Dim Sum, that this would lead to a personal and professional friendship that has so far lasted for 15 years. Congratulations PFPs, and thank you for the memories, the opportunities and the comradeship.
Here’s to 20 more years!
With love from
Diana, Marlene, Kuan & Nelson
AKA Assaulted Fish
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.
The theme for today is “Idiocy.”
New K-Pop sensation Bada-Bang Bada-Dong.
Duck face, Nelson, really?
It’s amazing how his lips never move (with Owen Yen of the Pork Filled Players)
(Photos by Kuan Foo except the last one. No idea who took that.)
Today’s theme is “Hangin’ Out.”
N-Dub and Aggy-K (AKA Agastya Kohli of the Pork Filled Players) throw out the gang signs for Ribonucleic Acid and Soft Shell Crab.
Nelson always knows where the best hugs are located (with Livia Scott of MEAT).
(Photos by Kuan Foo)