The last of a dynasty: Etch Your Sketch Off Asian Comedy Night brings big laughs
I have been attending the Vancouver Asian Cansian Theatre’s annual Etch Your Sketch Off comedy competition for many years. I have seen the evolution of the various sketch comedy groups like SFUU Man Chu, Banana Rama, the Yangzters, Assaulted Fish, and welcomed new groups like Asians ‘R’ We? and Finguh Lickin Good.
It brings back so many memories, such as the time in 2008 when the Yangzters did a sketch on the Olympics in China with Tibetan Monk Tossing; and hearing the dubbed version of a popular pop song turn into a song about Bubble Tea with the whole cast doing a fully choreographed musical. And of course there’s singing along with the always witty MC Tom Chin to Sukiyaki Karaoke. These are moments in my life stored in the "unforgettable good time section" of my memory.
I went with anticipation to this year’s Etch Your Sketch Off since there were many new groups. It started as usual with an exciting video intro of Tom Chin as 007, albeit a very cheesy Chinese version 007 who probably gets his ass kicked, rather than the other way around.
Tom never ceases to amaze me in how far he’s willing to go for a good laugh. This year’s theme was for all the teams to spoof a TV show or movie that has an Asian character or actor in it.
The show started with SFUU Man Chu’s spoof on the character Ash in the beloved children’s animation Pokemon, played by the only female cast member. Ash has an existential banter with the show’s writer about why he has written off all the other cast members, and then the writer dramatically kills himself just two minutes into the sketch. He lays dead for the reminder 8 minutes of the sketch while Ash tries to do the whole sketch by herself. Another cast member joins in later to move the dead writer’s body and to console Ash. It unfortunately was more creepy than funny.
Asians ‘R’ We? and the Yangzters were funny troupes that made most of their skit based on the size of Asian male member, which was a bit disappointing, since usually each year the Yangzters come up with innovative content that blows the lid off and challenges the other teams to bring their A game. Plus it’s hilarious to see Simon hump Tom Chin’s leg like a horny Chihuahua on final nights.
The team that won the People’s CHOY’s Award was the last team Finguh Lickin Good who spoofed the talk show host Maury from Ding Sao and Ding Son. The sketch started innocently enough with Maury, played by a female cast member, very serious looking in thick black rimmed glasses and suit interviewing a Vietnamese woman who had sex with over 300 men, and now had a baby with an unidentified father.
The first character that came onto stage as a potential father was a timid, nerdy looking young man who was very sure he was the father, followed by his father who was a muscle bound, confident simpleton who had no remorse about cheating on his wife. Each of these characters was very colourful.
The women is all about fame, promoting her twitter, instangram, and pinterest to the viewer and hoping to further develop her reality TV star career. The young man just wanted to be the father, as he probably never gets laid. The father, pressured by his cultural upbringing feels like he has failed by not being able to father a macho son, felt he had to cheat to obtain a son. In the end, the father became a father again, and had to fight off his son on the Maury show. The sketch took an interesting turn as they all got into a musical number at the end.
After all these laugh out loud moments, the audience was treated to some live improv called No Funny Business, performed by five Gladstone High School kids who were trained by one of the judges, VJ Delos Reyes. The kids were really funny showcasing the up and downs of challenges in a teenager’s life, like doing homework by using Wikipedia, cheating on each other, getting impatient driving behind old people, and trying not to get caught with drugs. We even saw a back flip as a part of the sketch. I can say the improv portion was even funnier than some of the sketches.
This year, the Etch Sketch Off was only showing for two nights: the Rice Bowl Competition judged by VJ Delos Reyes, James Yi and Janet Ip on May 29, and People’s CHOY’s award by audience applause on May 30. It is the last year for host Tom Chin and his wife and the artistic director Joyce Lam, so they both graciously accepted the appreciation speeches from incoming staff of VACT, and the thunderous applause from the audience. VACT’s board member Tetsuro Shigematsu announced to the audience there was a retirement dinner held in honour for all the years of Joyce’s contribution for on Monday, July 15 at 7pm at the Floata Seafood Restaurant. Joyce tearfully thanked all the actors, crew, sponsors, and audience and the amazing friends she’s made. She said that she’s very proud that VACT is in good hands and will continue to tell impactful stories that represent Asian Canadian realities. For more info, please visit the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre website.