Better hold your sides together in case they split. Tim Tam's Facebook page has all the best jokes. For example:
"i just see Jim Cameron new movie about killing dogs in 3D is called Abattoir"
"We go to market on weekend, my son Ruba Phong ask ip he can have a big dog. I say no we have no room for a big dog, only little dog... our oven way too small."
"Dis my fav place to eat noodle. Also my uncle shop in Fooscray 2 minute poodles."
"I have sore neck for sic week, very sore. My fren tell me you should get Asian massage, I say no that is how I get sore nec. Ha very phunny!"
Have you finished laughing yet?
If you didn't find those jokes funny, maybe you don't grasp the incredibly sophisticated and subtle humour. See, Asian people have funny names. Asian people talk funny. Asian people eat dogs!
Tim Tam lives with his wife Yung Phat Cow and three children, Rubba Phong, Trashan Tresha and Sum Ting Wong. Of course, a name like "Sum Ting Wong" sounds Chinese rather than Vietnamese. And "Trashan Tresha"? Sounds Indian to me.
But what the hell, they are all Asian, and Asians are pretty much the same aren't they? So let's all laugh at them and their funny names and dog-eating ways. Oh, and see how in the photo he is doing some kind of martial arts pose? I hear that's another Asian thing.
Price does an interview in this suburban newspaper in which he lifts the veil on what makes him so incredibly funny and brilliant.
"Some people think that it is racist," Price said. "But racism is when you hate another culture, and I'm the opposite. I love multiculturalism. I think a good way to embrace multiculturalism is to involve them with comedy. And I send up everyone."
Now, I'm not saying Price hates another culture, but his comedy IS racist. Who is laughing at his material? Is it Vietnamese people? I doubt it. As you can see in the video, it is a mainstream white audience. They would not even know that his accent barely resembles Vietnamese at all (it is an amalgam of poorly imitated Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese), because they don't know a lot about Asians except for the uneducated stereotypes. I'm surprised Price doesn't do the whole act pulling his eyes back into slits and saying, "Me soo solly!" Although I haven't seen his whole act, so you never know.
Let's hope that on his poster where it says "Only 2 shows", it means forever.
So, am I saying that no non-Vietnamese person should imitate Vietnamese people for their comedy act? Hell no. You just have to do it right.
As a counter-example, observe US comedian Anjelah Johnson, formerly of MadTV and elsewhere. Johnson is of Mexican and Native American heritage, and while she frequently mines her own cultural heritage for humour, her best-known bit revolves around her visit to a Vietnamese nail salon. I don't think she actually mentions explicitly that the workers are Vietnamese, but the accent is a giveaway.
This has over 20 million hits on Youtube so far.
Is Johnson's act racist? You could argue that it is. Is it funny? Certainly it is leagues ahead of Tim Tam.
From the discussions I've seen around the web, there are plenty of Vietnamese people who think her act is offensive, and plenty who think it is hilarious.
I'm not going to discount the opinions of those who are offended by it, but personally, I laughed a lot. I give it a pass, and it's not just because she is damn cute.
She actually nails the Vietnamese accent pretty darn well. I wouldn't say it's perfect by any means, but she gets the nuances mostly correct, and doesn't stray into any other Asian accent. I'll admit it does present a hackneyed stereotype - the dodgy Asian shopworker who is out to subtly cheat you. But I don't see it as being particularly nasty or ignorant. I figure that someone who can impersonate the Vietnamese so well must also be down with the Vietnamese.
As opposed to this next clip - another Mexican-American comedian, Pablo Francisco - who appears to have never actually met an Asian in his life. In terms of ignorant stereotypes and "haha let's all laugh at them stoopid chinks" attitude, I would say it's even worse than Tim Tam.
Of course, not only is he guilty of racism, but he is guilty of not being funny. (The audience may disagree, but to hell with them.) Francisco should be wary next time he decides to take a walk through Chinatown in pursuit of material - he might get his ass kicked. Because all Asians know martial arts, dontcha know.
(Hat tip: Ed's Rant)
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