Last week, I went to Los Angeles for the very first time to perform comedy. I’ve only been to LA twice and both times were in the airport. My mom said she and my dad took me there when I was really young, but somehow I doubt it. I could have forgotten it or she could have just assumed I was alive in 1978 when she and my dad were tourists in Hollywood (I wasn’t alive yet, mom!).
Jenny Yang had invited me to LA to stay with her for a weekend and perform with Dis/orient/ed Comedy, the only mostly female Asian-American national standup touring showcase, which I’ve performed with three times before. So at the prospect of flying to the biggest city on the west coast with the funniest lady on the west coast (seriously, have you seen this Buzzfeed video?) my answer was a weeping, body shaking yes.
The first night, we joined some other bloggers, writers and creative folk at a Korean BBQ called Madang621. So meaty!
Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man watches as I double-fist soju and beer (it was a posed shot MOM!).
The show was held in the historic David Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo.
I got my fake eyelashes on and my sparrow face set.
It felt amazing to perform in a theater like that, in a new city with people who haven’t heard my jokes, with comedians who gave the audience a show. It’s inspiring to share a stage with such unique talent. It also makes me feel like I should work harder, be funnier, write more, and then maybe work out more so I don’t look like someone stuck a tube into my mouth and inflated me. To goals!
Jenny was the kindest, nicest host who even if she tired of how many preconceived notions I have about LA, she didn’t say anything. I spent a lot of time asking, “Is this Hollywood?” “Is this where they filmed The Hills?” “Is this where they filmed Pretty Woman?” She was so patient with my dumb touristy questions, gathered from a life of watching TV.
We talked a lot about comedy, about how our lives as females, minorities, really good daughters and students, have all shaped what goes into our jokes. I told her about my theory: there’s a window of time in your life, from childhood to late teens, when you have to experience something of great emotional charge or weight. Whatever that is. From the trauma, loss or feeling different from other girls because you’re watching Comedy Central and not working on your Hello Kitty collection. But it’s that heavy, dark period that makes us creative because we once we see the world differently, our filters are forever changed. But for those people who skated through life, whose windows shut on them and their parents paid for their Nordstrom bills and all of their opinions deal with which expensive brand of jeans are the best, they’re nice at organizing a brunch or telling me what texturing creme to use, or maybe they can quote something funny they watched on Netflix, but they’re not comedians. Not that everyone has to suffer to become something more than a mouth-breather, but IT HELPS. It’s what I’ve seen in comics: we all felt different at a young age and that uneasiness carries through our lives, but makes us able to point out the humor. We don’t wallow, we make it funny. Not everyone is so lucky.
Plus, she has great taste in music.
I was so amazed at how everyone was slim and beautiful despite the veritable BOUNTY of food. So much food! Everyone has a recommendation for cuisine, secret cuisine, hip cuisine, etc. etc. etc. I know which 7-11 doesn’t judge me for buying slurpees for my kids and a Budlight Strawberrita tall-boy for me.
The highlight of my food experience was the Strawberry Fantasy Toast box at Oh My Pan. It’s a toast box filled with even more toast. The box is the perfect shape for this majesty, and also a perfect shape to stuff my feelings into and then promptly eat them. When the server brought it out, I gasped. He said he could cut it for us and asked if we wanted to take pictures first. YES TO ALL THE PICTURES!
HOT STEAMY BUTTERY CREAMY CARB ACTION!
I’ve been to California three times in the last two years and each time, I have loved it. It could be because I’m just there as a tourist and I don’t have to deal with the trappings every city has: the traffic, prices, everyone sexier and younger than I am. But I loved the sun, the palm trees, the bright sky that said, “Girl, it’s too hot for jeans.” I loved how people seemed to be doing things, working on things, being creative and producing art and comedy and music and making this world more entertaining.
Mike and the boys picked me up at the airport Sunday night. I sneaked up on Nathan and TJ in the baggage claim and TJ yelled and leapt into my arms. “MOMMY! YOU’RE BACK!” And as TJ hugged me tightly, a woman nearby smiled and said, “That’s the sweetest thing.”
And Mike answered, “Yeah, she’s been gone since Friday.”
It felt nice to be home, with people who laugh at my jokes, make some of their own and always think their mother is a superstar.