I met Kristina Wong via my good friend Vickie Nam. She suggested that I "friend" Kristina because of her charm, sense of humor and because she is one of the most interesting Asian women around (and just happens to live within a five-mile radius of me, which in this world of internet connectively means she's practically attached to my left hip). Since we connected on Facebook, I have had the pleasure of sharing one of her Groupon coupons and seeing her show "Going Green the Wong Way."
The 3rd Annual Asian American Theater Conference and Festival will be presenting panels starting June 20th in Los Angeles. The mission of the conference is to advance Asian American theatre through sharing knowledge and resources and to inspire future generations of Asian American artists. Kristina will be a panelist on the Asian American Women and Comedy panel, along with Helen Ota (Cold Tofu) and moderated by Maggie Lee (Pork Filled Players), on the 22nd of June.
Since both of us are busy doing busy stuff, I asked her the following four questions through Facebook messaging, which is the best when you have no time to meet and you are stuck in front of your computer. Yes, I have proven that Facebook can be used for work.
Which statement is true: your life inspires your work or your work inspires your life?
KW: I can't tell the different between work and life anymore which is why I'm running off to Southeast Asia for seven weeks during Monsoon season this summer, to get a good look at life from a whole other angle. This is the existential crisis of a solo performance artist who works from real world source material.
Question 2: It was revealed that the blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus" was written by Tom McMasters, a married straight man, a man who took on a persona that he started in 2006 to "have a discussion about the real questions" on subjects like the Middle East or U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Your personas run from Madam to Cat Lady to Eco Warrior, but if you could become someone other than the "Sybil of the Asian World", who would you be? What life would you create?
KW: I was saying to a friend it'd be interesting to be a straight man. This is not necessarily a life I'd like to "create" but I think it would be interesting to have genitals outside my body that I constantly would want to shove into people. What would that be like? I wonder.
Jon Stewart's Daily Show rides the line of reality and comedy, and like the Daily Show, your performances are spiked with humor and the real life drama of being "you".
Have you ever considered writing a drama that delves into a darker side?
KW: By "drama" do you mean stuff with no laughs? Because that's what the first drafts of "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Cat Lady" both were--horrible humorless excavations of my life. Now they are as dark but somehow people like to laugh at my misery more.
Extra bonus question: What's with the coupon obsession?
KW: I'm kind of mortified that you picked up on this. It's true, I'm a Groupon hoarder. When i watch "Hoarders," I understand the need of hoarders to feel like you will never run out of something. And I love looking at my little stash of vouchers, knowing that wherever I go, I have a voucher there.
It started last year when I had really bad insomnia, and would wake up at midnight and 5 a.m. The exact times when Groupon and Living social would update their deals. So I'm lying there with insomnia and would just check my iPhone and buy them in my mania. Damn the Groupon and Living Social Apps! So dangerous.
But as with all good hoarding habits, mine must come to an end. And luckily, the Groupon and Living Social offerings have been pretty lousy of late and I've been able to coach myself, "It's okay, Kristina, they won't run out, the well won't go dry. There are a million group-buy websites and you don't have to get it just this minute. There, there."
I still have Social Living cupcake coupons that I have to eat by July. $50 worth. That's a lot of cupcakes. Thank you Kristina for the interview via Facebook and see you next week at your Asian American Women and Comedy panel at the 3rd National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival
About the panel:
Asian American Women and Comedy
June 22, 2011 - 9:15am -10:45am
Fearless, Female, and Damn Good Fart Jokes The model Asian American woman is often expected to be exotic, sexy, demure, or shy. But what about flat-out funny? This session will feature a panel of Asian American female comedy writers and performers who will talk about their experiences in creating humor on all levels, from intellectual wit to fart jokes, and how race and sex do (or don't) come into play. We invite comedy writers and performers of all levels to participate in a rousing discussion on what it means to Asian American, female, and not afraid to be the first to have a good laugh at herself.
- (Panelist) Helen H. Ota is the Artistic Director of Cold Tofu, the nation's premier Asian American comedy improvisation group. A member since 1993, she has performed in and produced numerous Cold Tofu improv and sketch shows.
- Her other stage and film credits include Songs for a New World, The Betrayed, Nihonmachi: The Place To Be, Twelfth Night, The Golden Hour, Back in the Day, Manzanar: Story of an American Family, A Jive Bomber's Christmas, Hands On, Carpool and BuddhaHeads. She is also the co-founder of Yes, And...Productions.
- In addition, Helen proudly supports the Japanese American community. She is Vice President of Community Relations for the Nisei Week Foundation and Japanese Festival and serves on the Board of Directors as Secretary for the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. When she isn't producing, performing or volunteering, Helen works in Development for Center Theatre Group, a nonprofit arts organization in Downtown Los Angeles.
- (Panelist) Kristina Wong is a nationally presented solo performer, writer, actor, educator, culture jammer, and filmmaker. Her work has received awards from Creative Capital, MAPFUND, Center for Cultural Innovation, and the National Performance Network. She's made five full length solo shows. Her show Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest toured in over 40 engagements since 2006 is now available as a broadcast quality concert film (www.flyingwong.com). She premiered her first ensemble work Cat Lady in Diverseworks in Houston in March. Cat Lady has its West Coast premiere at ODC Theater in San Francisco in November. Her articles have been published by PBS, Playgirl Magazine, and Jezebel.
- (Moderator) Maggie Lee is the lead sketch writer, as well as a performer, producer, and panda wrangler for the Pork Filled Players, Seattle's Asian American sketch comedy group. Having grown up in Northern California and attended UC Berkeley, Maggie transplanted to Seattle a decade ago and has been thriving ever since on a liquid diet of rainy drizzle and espresso. She is also a playwright with an interest in fantastical science fiction and horror. In 2006, she adapted H.P. Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep for the stage in Open Circle Theater's The Colour Out of Space, and collaborated on OCT's 2008 original Lovecraft-inspired show Necronomicon. In 2010, she participated as a writer for14/48: the World's Quickest Theatre Festival and Balagan Theatre's mythological summer park show Greetings from Styx. Her full length play, Kindred Spirits, a romantic comedy about a haunted house, was recently produced by ReAct Theatre.
Image: Kristina Wong
For more information about Kristina and to find out when her next show is, please go to: Kristina Wong