There are two ways to experience the podcast recently put out by Asian American comedians Fumi Abe and Mic Nguyen. If you happen to be of Asian heritage yourself, then you may feel a certain wave of familiarity wash over you as Abe and Nguyen regale you with their anecdotes, insights, and social commentary. If, on the other hand, you happen to identify with any other racial background, you'll instead find yourself chuckling along as you inadvertently enroll in a course on the Asian American experience that you never realized you needed to take.
In the Asian, Not Asian Podcast, Abe and Nguyen discuss, as they eloquently put it, the "American issues no Americans seem to care about." As Asians not from Asia, they pick apart recent events in Asian American culture, politics, media, common misunderstandings, and a variety of stereotypes that are ever present in our day-to-day lives whether we realize it or not. From the coverage of the 2018 Olympics to how one can possibly respond to the oft-delivered and almost always unfunny small-penis jokes, the podcast delves into every nuance of the life of Asian Americans, and in particular the way in which these issues are completely overlooked. Even for those of us who consider ourselves hyper-aware of racial inequalities, it is not only eye-opening but truly enlightening while at the same time lending a humorous bent to a topic of conversation that is not only under-discussed, but usually completely ignored.
While Abe and Nguyen are clearly seasoned comedians, their podcast is as informational as it is funny. The first episode, aptly titled "The Rice Cooker," covers the dilemma of a girlfriend who continually puts the rice cooker away when it should obviously stay in its home on the kitchen counter. They also discuss the benefits of purchasing what they refer to as a "Home Depot Size" bag of rice, but quickly goes on to touch on more thoughtful and, one might even say, philosophical aspects of how Asian Americans are underrepresented or overlooked whether in film, comedy, or otherwise. Each episode covers a range of topics, with some common themes such as Asian Masculinity resurfacing time and again. Why is it acceptable for women to joke about not fucking Asian men? What influence does the extreme expectations placed on Asian Americans by their parents have on how they make their way in today's society? Why are they even making a live-action version of Mulan anyway? These questions are not only explored, but completely broken down in such a way that even the most pigmentally-challenged amongst us can appreciate and learn from.
Fumi Abe, who is Japanese-American, and Mic Nguyen, who is Vietnamese-American, met as stand up performers in New York, and have since transformed their shared perspectives into a partnership that induces knowledge and laughter simultaneously. Together, they've created a podcast that manages to have a little something for everyone. Whether or not you relate to the trials they describe, you certainly come away with a deeper sense of cultural understanding, which no doubt this world could use a lot more of.