“What kind of Asian are you?”
“Where are you really from?”
Up there with shouts of “ching chong” and slant-eyed taunts, these questions are a rite of passage for many Asian Americans.
Los Angeles-based artist Ken Tanaka takes on these queries in a new comedy video called “What Kind Of Asian Are You?” In the gentle revenge fantasy, actress Stella Choe encounters a friendly but clueless fellow jogger who insists on getting to the bottom of her ethnic heritage. Then he tries to bond with her over kim chi and teriyaki BBQ.
What Choe does next is priceless — and also something really funny to keep in mind for the next time these kinds of questions crop up.
Of course, Asian Americans aren’t the only people who may feel constantly interrogated about their ethnicity. For a more serious take on questions of racial identity, check out Daniel Alarcsn’s Salon article “What kind of Latino am I?” or see the pushback Jenifer Bratter got when she, a bi-racial woman, wore a shirt that said “100 percent black woman.”
The video was released as part of YouTube’s Comedy Week, a celebration of the site’s original comedy content. In addition to Choe, the video stars comedian Scott Beehner and features a jog-by from Tanaka.