Bowen Yang is no doubt one of the funniest new talents to hit the stage on Saturday Night Live.
But the show's first Chinese-American cast member, 30, offered a rare earnest moment on this weekend's episode as he commented on the recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States.
During the Weekend Update segment, Yang brought up the Mandarin cheer "jiayou," which roughly translates to "fuel up," as a helpful mantra for himself. "I don't know what's helpful to say to everyone, but that's what I say to myself," he continued. "Fuel up. Do more. It's the Year of the Metal Ox, which basically means a car. So everyone get in, buckle up, it's no pee breaks. We ride at dawn, grandmas!"
The Nora from Queens actor referenced the 75-year-old Asian American woman named Xiao Zhen Xie, who used a wooden board to fight back after she was punched by a white man in San Francisco, California, on March 17. (Steven Jenkins was arrested at the scene, after previously attacking 83-year-old Ngoc Pham.) The attack came one day after Robert Aaron Long killed eight people, six were women of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area massage parlors.
Yang still encouraged some laughs during his appearance, with action items like, "Six ways you can check in on your AAPI friends and tell them they're so hot."
The tone shifted when Colin Jost asked if those tips were really helpful to all Asian Americans. "Maybe. I don't know, Colin… What can I say to help how insanely bad things are?" Yang responded.
"If someone's personality is 'punch an Asian grandma,' it's not a dialogue," he said. "I have an Asian grandma, you want to punch her. There ain't no common ground, mama."
After some quippy back-and-forth with Jost, Yang continued, "Look, I'm just a comedian, I don't have the answers. But I'm not just looking for them online, I'm looking around me."
"The GoFundMe for Xiao Zhen Xie, the grandmother who fought back against her attacker, raised $900,000, which she immediately gave back to the community," he added. "That's where we are as Asians. Come meet us there."
Yang has written for SNL since 2018, earning an Emmy nomination with the rest of the writers for outstanding writing for a variety series, before he was promoted to the on-air cast with season 45 in 2019.
If you've been attacked or have witnessed an attack, please contact your local authorities. You can also report your incident here. / To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.
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