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After a long day of work, we deserve a typical night out at a comedy bar with the family or even just sitting cozily on a couch watching a comedy show, laughing all our stress away. Comedians are always there to bring us laughter, offer an escape to get away from our own problems and make painful things make sense. However, being a comedian is not easy. Behind each attempt to dissipate everyone’s worries and desolation comes countless struggles and battles.

Continue ahead as we sit down with 10 Asian-American comedians who are coming together for the show VERY BIG VERY ASIAN COMEDY FESTIVAL. Here they discuss their unique perspective on what it takes to be a mover and shaker in the industry. They shared how they embarked on their entrepreneurial journey, who are their inspirations, what are the hurdles coming their way and how these couldn’t deter their perseverance to excel in the industry.

Aiko Tanaka

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

Like everyone else, I struggle with self-doubt. I think we can overcome this by trying our best to believe in ourselves and keep on going for what we want. I wouldn’t say it is the hardest but since we live in the world of social media, people are very mean and quick to judge. People takes time to comments mean stuff or message to just put others down. I hope the world would be kinder place that we can co exist despite the fact we all have different political views and opinions and beliefs.

Aiko Tanaka

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“Since I do stand up I would be more outgoing. I’m outgoing once I know the person.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“I look up to my mom because she is a strong, beautiful, wise human being.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“Sorry to bother you with my image but I hope you have a good day”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“I don’t really listen to podcasts. I should. I like Joyce Meyer.”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“To celebrate our culture, us being free and being artists of our own. I also like Christine Kim. She is an awesome cook. I trust anyone who feeds me good food.”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

Instagram: @Aikorumba_ | Twitter: @Aikotanaka

Christine Kim

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

The hardest thing would be making time. Time is finite and the to-do list is always long for a writer, producer, or performer these days. I’ve learned to say “yes”, but also “no” to things. It is important to make time to live life too, sometimes we forget to do that!

Christine Kim

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“People will think I am quiet and shy until they get to know me or see me on stage, and then it’s usually “I can’t believe you said that” or “I didn’t know you spoke.” I’m a good listener.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“I look up to my mom; she is an artist, entrepreneurial spirited, and dynamic. She always says, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Also, “The early bird gets the worm,” but I’m a night owl – she’s not happy about this.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“If I had a billboard in Times Square, it would say: “Hey you! You are enough.”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“Reading a mixture of plays and scripts, but I also fall into the Youtube rabbit hole.”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“Very excited to produce the first annual Very Big Very Asian Comedy Festival. We were ambitious. We wanted to debunk the notion that there weren’t enough AAPI comedians to have a full Stand-Up Comedy focused festival for 7 shows and 4 nights! We wanted to redefine what AAPI meant visually, being beyond the East Asian image that comes to mind first for many. We wanted to welcome comedians nationally and internationally to submit to this curated festival free of charge to be considered, while offering them tangible opportunities like the opportunity to be passed at an NYC Comedy club through this festival, invite industry in the audience, and create an environment at the afterparty/networking event for connections to be made. We focused on Comedy, Community, and Connections. We worked with Soar Over Hate, sponsors like APICHA Community Health Center, and will be donating some of the proceeds from the festival to serve the community in different ways. We’ve also partnered with many AAPI-owned businesses and allies who inspire us, to bring more awareness and visibility to them as well, as everyone has taken a hit during the pandemic. We are proud of what we have put together for the Very Big Very Asian Comedy Festival and think people should come to have a good time, support their fellow AAPI artists, and just share a laugh while making some friends!”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“Instagram: @livingwithchriss @verybigveryasiancomedy | www.christineykim.com

Dylan Adler

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

I think something difficult I overcame was the process of healing from rape trauma. I feel fortunate that I was able to use comedy and jokes as a way to process the pain of it. It’s something I’m still processing but I’m in a much better place after a lot of therapy and EMDR and writing jokes as a coping mechanism. I’m trying to get better at establishing my own physical contact boundaries. I hate hugs lol. Hugs = attacks.

Dylan Adler

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“I think people after they see me perform assume I’m a crazy and chaotic bitch all of the time. I think in my comedy act I let out that side of myself but for most of the day, I act fairly normal haha.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“I really look up to Oprah Winfrey. I think she’s an incredible teacher and I learn so much from her and her interviews. She’s a true spiritual leader.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“The Billboard would say “If you are a POC who hates physical contact this person on the billboard right here is single and looking to date someone who will not touch him.  DM him @dylanadler_ if you want to date him and not touch him!”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“I listen to the podcast Feeling Asian. It’s one of my favorite podcasts and it’s hosted by two of my comic friends Brian and Youngmi who talk about mental health. I also love Asian Not Asian one of my other favorite podcasts which is hosted by Mic Nguyen and Jenny Arimoto and I love their dynamic and the subjects they talk about. I recommend Minor Feelings by Cathy Hong. She talks about Asian American identity in a way that’s so illuminating and validating. Also “Body Keeps a score” is an amazing book about healing from trauma and it helped me a lot.”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“I’m so excited actually mostly to talk and mingle with other amazing Asian comics and artists on the show!!”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

” You can follow me on:

Instagram: @dylanadler_ | Twitter: @Dylanadler6 | Tik Tok: @Dylanadler7

I also have a solo show coming up on May 27th at the Duplex at 6:30!”

Jocelyn Chia

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

“Committing to this journey as a comedian is in general extremely hard.  I was constantly fraught with self-doubt and worries about whether I could make it financially as a comedian.   Around 3 years in I was seriously contemplating quitting and was starting to look for jobs online.  I spoke to a good friend about my choice and she suggested I prayed about it.  This was actually quite laughable to me because I am so not religious, but I was like ok I went to catholic high school and then to a Jesuit law school, I know how to f-ing pray. So I did! I prayed for a sign as to whether or not I should keep going as a comedian.  Within 2 weeks I received what I felt were not just 1, 2, or even 3 but 4 signs.  I got passed at a comedy club in NYC as a regular, I won a comedy competition, I got my first well-paying gig of about $300 or so (when I was used to getting nothing or $20) and then I got my first TV show on AXS TV hosted by William Shatner.  I was like, okay, I guess I’ll keep going!”

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“I think I come across as pretty serious.  At least to non-Asians in America.  Maybe they think in general Asians are more serious, or maybe I have a serious face or serious attitude, I’m not sure exactly what it is. But personality-wise I am not the constant joking around when I’m off-stage kind of person.  In fact, many of us aren’t, and a lot of comedians are even quite introverted.  So I think people who don’t know I’m a comedian usually assume I’m very serious, and then when they see me let loose on stage it’s like I morph into a different person.  Actually, I see that in several other comedians. They are like this larger-than-life person on stage and then off stage, it’s like you would have NEVER guessed they were a comedian. And then others are really as big a personality both on and off stage.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“My aunt.  She is so multi-dimensional and successful despite such great challenges.  She was orphaned at such a young age but managed to become a highly successful lawyer, also did her masters in counseling, and a master’s in international studies, all while raising 3 kids! How crazy successful is that?  And she is the nicest sweetest person as well.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

Your prostate is your business, my uterus is my business.

Jocelyn Chia

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“I’ve been on a Tony Robins kick and binge listening to his programs such as Ultimate Edge, The Time of Your Life, and Personal Power.  I also enjoy listening to Blinkist – it summarizes books in just 15 minutes!  The latest Blinkist books I listened to were on Palestine and the Ukraine Russia conflict.”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“99% of the time I’m the only Asian on a lineup so I’m excited to share the stage with an ALL Asian lineup!  In the all Asian shows I’ve done Asian people come out in full force to support and it’s incredibly fun because fellow Asians “get” me and my humor in an even deeper way than non-Asians, so it’s very thrilling to perform for “my people” so to speak. Sometimes they are even screaming with recognition/relatability haha, it’s super awesome. I think Asians get SO excited to see fellow Asians perform comedy because it’s still quite a rarity, and when it’s an all-Asian show/festival the excitement just gets elevated to a whole new level.”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“Instagram: @jocelyncomedy | Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/JocelynChiaComedy

Keith Johnson

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

The hardest thing is learning on the fly. As comics,  we are constantly unpacking thoughts, emotions,  and life events at the moment. This happens during the best and worst of times. Although it’s difficult, once you realize you are bettering yourself as an individual and transmuting at the moment, you enjoy it a little more every time.

Kieth Johnson

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“People can’t tell if I’m serious or joking. I am serious. Very serious about comedy. It’s not funny but you should laugh. Now.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“Miranda Priestly- cuz she’s a bad bitch duhhhh.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“Follow me in life, not on social media. I’ll get you there.”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“The Monk who Sold his Ferrari- Robin Sharma | Make Art not Content- Father Bronques”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“Finally a festival for Asian people.”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“Instagram: @keithjohnsonHQ

Manolo Moreno

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

It’s true that the craft and consistency of comedy is the most important part, but an incredibly close second is the networking. It turns out all the social skills a high school kid learns to be popular still apply to a career. Growing up as a minority in a small white town, my instincts were always to make myself invisible to survive. But now I realize I have to grow up, learn some social skills, and act like a high school cheerleader.

Manolo Moreno

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“My sticking point is that I come across as incompetent on stage and in person, but a lot of thought and hard work goes into being a dumbass.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“I like the logic of kids because it’s untethered from the agreed-upon reality of adulthood. The underlying intent of my work involves frustration with reality and my attempts to break it, and I use the way kids think for guidance.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“I once ate at the Red Lobster here.”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“I’m not good at reading, so I would recommend you read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, and then tell me what happens.”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“I’m looking forward to seeing my comedy friends, old and new, be included in the laughter of fellow Asian brethren.”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“I co-host a podcast called Dr. Gameshow, and you can find videos and cartoons (I’m an animator) at https://lynkfire.com/manolosomething for various links.”

Max and Nicky

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

“We both once had one really bad case of jock itch. We kept scratching and scratching until we scratched so hard, that we finally scratched it away.”

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“Which one is which. It’s so obvious. I’m Nicky… and I’m Max.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“Our sister, Laura. She recently got a box of Lucky Charms, and, man, that’s really inspiring. (She’s also an incredible musician and songwriter. And even though she doesn’t do comedy for a living, she might just be the funniest person we know [in addition to our older brother, Brent, who is a professional comedian].)”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“Max & Nicky”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

” We’re reading a very good book called How to Get Rid of Your Jock Itch in 24 Hours. You know, just in case it comes back. We’re also currently editing the latest episodes of our own podcasts Conversations about Conversations and Splitting Hairs with Max & Nicky, so we guess you could say that we’re currently listening to those podcasts. We also really like The Poundcast and Totally Tell Me. Reply All is pretty darn good, too.”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“It has everything you could possibly want in a festival: it’s a festival (requirement one fulfilled), it’s a comedy, it’s big, it’s Asian, and it’s very.”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“YouTube: https://youtube.com/maxandnickyweinbach | Website: maxandnicky.com | Twitter: @maxandnicholas

Ron Josol

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

“For me, after 26 years doing comedy full-time.  It’s the balance of getting work, getting proper stage time for practice, and how not to get bitter in the journey. It’s now about enjoying stand-up for the rest of your life. For me, that means doing shows and jokes that make me, the audience, bookers, agents, and managers happy at the same time.”

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“A lot think I’m not approachable because my demeanor is different from my stage persona.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“Definitely my father for the work ethic and showing me it doesn’t matter how hard life can get, you can overcome.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“If I were famous it wouldn’t matter, but if I wasn’t it would read add me on IG.”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“Always listening to Marc Maron’s podcast.”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

It’s really just exciting doing comedy with other Asian comedians I know and getting to meet new ones that could make a big difference in the future success of our people.

Ron Josol

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“Instagram: @ronjosol1 | Youtube: ronjosol | Tiktok: ronjosol

Sabeen Sadiq

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

“The toughest part of my journey is dealing with myself. I’m always in my head and sometimes I’ll be really hard on myself about the material if it doesn’t work right away. I’m getting better at being kinder to myself and being okay when a set doesn’t go the way I want it to go. Another one is that when tragedies have happened, like relatives passing away, etc., it’s always hard for me to get back into the headspace of being funny. It takes me being consistently on stage to get back to it. I love comedy, so I always find my way back.”

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“People assume I’m going to be so jokey in person or that I’m going to be on, not true at all.  When I’m on stage sure I’m funny but off stage I’m bubbly, happy go lucky but not always trying to be funny. “

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“I really look up to Riz Ahmed. I really enjoy watching creatives diversify in their careers and he’s done that. I love his dramatic acting as well as his music from the Swet Shop Boys.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

Let’s all treat each other like we’re human. Be kind.

Sabeen Sadiq

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“I’m addicted to self-help but this one pod really helps me figure out my thoughts when I feel overwhelmed or when I’m days away from therapy and need a pick me up. It’s called Help Me Be Me. I’m also reading a book called All About Love!”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“I’m excited to perform with other Asians!! I’m friends with most of them so it’ll be a good hang. We’re all funny as hell and people will get to hear such unique perspectives, Why wouldn’t you go?”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“Definitely follow me on IG: @sabeencomedy and Tiktok: @sabeensadiq4 Also, come to my show at the union hall on May 27th @ 10 pm. It’s called Gut Feelings.”

Vince Chang

Q1: What was the hardest thing you encountered in your journey and how did you overcome it?

Think the hardest thing is finding who I was as a comedian. Being Jamaican- Chinese and other nationalities, I tried to be too black, too Asian, too this, and too that. Eventually, it became tiresome, but once I found what I found funny and what I like to do it because a little easier. However, it’s a constant learning experience and what makes it fun is that it’s a journey you walk yourself.

Vince Chang

Q2: What do people usually get wrong about you when they just met you?

“That I don’t look Asian lol.”

Q3: Who is someone you look up to that is not a comedian and why?

“My grandfather, Rest his soul. Being one of the first black deputy chiefs in queens back in the 40s 50s. He had to climb a very tall mountain. But the stories were always awesome and mostly hilarious.”

Q4: If you had a billboard in Times Square for 24 hours, what would it say?

“Chang Dynasty. Grab A drink, Take a Seat, and Just Laugh – Vince Chang”

Q5: What books/podcasts are you reading/listening right now you could share?

“The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | And Earn Your Leisure Podcast”

Q6: What are you most excited about this “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival” ? Or why do you think people should come to “Very Big Asian Comedy Festival”?

“Just to see this awesome combination of different comedians and unique backgrounds and stories.”

Q7: How can people find out more about you?

“Instagram: @Vincechang21 | Twitter: @Vchang21