Summary: Fresh Off The Boat

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When viewing any form of western media, it becomes quite obvious that there is a lack of representation of Asian Americans. If there is representation, it usually a one dimensional stereotypical character. There has especially been a lack of representation of Asian Americans in comedy. Therefore, there is gap in the analysis of Asian American comedy in academic literature. ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ is the second sitcom involving an Asian cast in America. It is important to find out how ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ handles Asian American comedy in relation to representation. Also how humour is directed at other racial groups at an attempt to criticize racial issues and ignorance in America.

There is generally a lack of Asian American representation in
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Erturk (2014) mentions that minority stand up comedians tend to use their racial identities as material. This could either showcase their race through a more honest and truthful lens that does not focus on the stereotypes or it could replicate hurtful stereotypes of the minority group. Meyer (2007, p. 279) explains how stand up Korean comedian, Margaret Cho, is able to use her comedy performance to raise the issues of racism, women’s issues, and sexuality, especially since she encompasses all these things by being an Asian queer woman. Meyer (2007, p.279) continues to explain that “Cho’s rhetorical subtext challenges dominant ideological constructs that proliferate racial, ethnic, and sexual oppression in American society.” This links to Bakhtin’s (1984) theory of Carnival since Cho, whose identity falls into a series of marginalized groups, is able to critique and mock those that are in a higher social and cultural position than herself in American society. The example of Margaret Cho demonstrates how Asian American’s can use comedy to tackle issues within society. However, comedians can fall into the other end of the spectrum and reproduce racial issues and practices rather than challenge them, by making racial self-deprecating content. Diffrient’s (2011) analysis of the Korean comedian Bobby Lee on MADtv notices how Bobby Lee uses and mocks Asian speech patterns in his stand up comedy which is similar to how other groups have made fun of and parodied Asian accents and language (Chun in Diffrient, 2011, p. 54). Ridiculing Asian accents and language could be linked to the Thomas Hobbes’ (1588-1697) superiority theory because non-Asians and even non-accented Asians can be perceived as looking down on the way Asians naturally speak. The
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