The Outsider Is In

Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong may be the most successful immigrant comic working today. He voraciously consumed Western culture in China as a child, listening to American classic rock on static-laden short-wave radio. Both an insider and an outsider, he bridges a wide cultural chasm, a skill honed during his time in Boston’s rough-and-tumble stand-up comedy scene, where people don’t care about your background, only whether you can kill onstage. Embodying two starkly different cultures is often an uneasy negotiation, but this tension informs Wong’s fresh take on his Chinese heritage, domestic politics, and the more prosaic subjects of traditional observational comedy. He has made a number of high-profile appearances, including Late Show with David Letterman as well as the Radio and Television Correspondents Association' annual dinner, where he performed for Vice President Joe Biden. Some of his greatest successes have been viral. On YouTube, he has become something of a folk hero among fellow immigrants who rarely see people like themselves performing on Comedy Central stand-up specials. Wong’s persona — a cutting-yet-affectionate parody of immigrant culture — demonstrates a comic who doesn’t need to lower himself to feigned stupidity or cheap stereotypes.
Tue., Sept. 21, 8 p.m., 2010

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