“It’s better to disappoint your parents for a couple of years than to disappoint yourself for the rest of your life.”
-Jimmy O. Yang
Amazon’s Good Deal is Jimmy O. Yang’s first comedy special. “This is 10 years in the making; all the open mics, road gigs, it’s finally paying off,” says Jimmy. In the special, he shares his auspicious Chinese name Man-Shing, meaning “10,000 successes.” His career as a stand-up comedian has led to roles in Crazy Rich Asians, Fresh Off The Boat, Silicon Valley, and Netflix’s highly anticipated Space Force. Jimmy is also the author of, How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents and columnist for Bon Appétit.
Jimmy’s pre-performance routine consists of, “a nap, a shower is optional. A nap is very important.” Even after hundreds of shows he admits, “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous filming this. I think there are still a little bit of nerves, it’s more excitement. I was nervous for the first couple of minutes, but you get into the rhythm and it’s just another show.”
Jimmy named his special Good Deal because,“it’s on Amazon. Everybody is searching for a good deal on Amazon. It’s one of those catchphrases my mom and family always said. Every Chinese person is always looking for a good deal. It’s a relatable thing, it’s like a code word for Chinese people. For a lot of Americans who are not Asian haggling is embarrassing, but for us, we take pride in finding a good deal.”
Good Deal spotlights the struggles of having “negative nine generations, so frickin’ Chinese parents”; who are not supportive of ambitions that stray from- accountant, doctor, lawyer, or ping-pong champion of China. In pursuit of his dreams, Jimmy realized, “It’s better to disappoint your parents for a couple of years than to disappoint yourself for the rest of your life. Give it a shot. The challenging times looking back, I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with three roommates. I was doing stand-up with some of my best friends. It was challenging in a traditional sense but I was enjoying the journey.” The turning point for his parents was when he, “made the Chinese newspaper. Nothing else matters to Chinese parents but the Chinese newspaper. That’s what all the relatives read. Even if you get on Time Magazine, it’s not like my uncle’s gonna read that.”
In the special Jimmy says, “As an Asian American, a lot of the time people see you as Asian before they ever see you as American.” Through comedy, Jimmy strives to bring understanding to the struggles of the Asian American experience. “When I am talking about my parents, Asian audiences can relate to it and not feel like the “weird one.” It’s an incredible feeling to feel seen, you don’t feel left out. You don’t feel crazy about yourself and that’s very important. Relatability is very important. I think the special is not just for Asian people, it’s about the human experience of fitting in and that is relatable to everyone,” says Jimmy.
“What I value most about being American is opportunity and freedom. I don’t think I would have been an actor if my family had moved to any other country,” says Jimmy. Growing up Jimmy watched Bobby Lee and Ken Jeong on tv, “it made me feel like maybe one day I could be like them. I feel there is now a lot more representation out there. It’s a hard argument for an Asian parent to make, that you can’t make it.”
Jimmy hopes to see more diversity in representation of Asians. “We don’t see enough. When you are the only one, everything gets pigeonholed and amplified. In Crazy Rich Asians there are many different kinds of Asians: good looking Asians, funny Asians, outlandish Asians, a film that allowed us as artists to be ourselves. Crazy Rich Asians allowed people to find their lane and be seen as an individual instead of a broad stroke caricature.”
Good Deal premieres on Amazon May 8th, 2020. You can also watch Jimmy in Space Force premiering May 31st, 2020 on Netflix.
Photos courtesy of SECHEL PR.