Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Comedian Jenny Yang serves up parody video in response to Pho controversy

by Deepa Fernandes and Lori Galarreta | Take Two

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Jenny Yang plays Sammy Chu, in "How to eat a PB&J" video. Via Jenny Yang YouTube channel

Pho, that yummy Vietnamese noodle soup, has been at the forefront of some controversy lately. Last week, Bon Appetit released a video featuring Tyler Akin, non-Vietnamese chef and restaurant owner explaining his set of guidelines to getting the most out the soup. L.A. restaurateur and Vietnamese American Nguyen Tran joined us on Monday to talk about it.

But the Pho controversy continues to gain steam and on Tuesday, stand-up comedian Jenny Yang released a video parodying Bon Appetit’s original:

How to eat a PB&J video

For more on the parody and the topic of culinary appropriation, Jenny Yang joined Take Two's Deepa Fernandes in studio.

Interview Highlights

Why did you make your video?

"Well, I'm a comedian and it was just ripe, Deepa. It was ripe. To me, it was just a sort of excuse to create a video that gives more of the mainstream audience, possibly, a sense of what maybe what I went through as an Asian American looking at that Pho video."

Via Jenny Yang YouTube channel

What did you go through?

"When I saw it, I just cringed...because all of the elements the way that it was entitled by Bon Appetit, the tone of his voice, the fact that he's probably a very well meaning appreciator of our culture...but I think what makes it tough is, food is so personal for Asian Americans and us immigrants. And in fact in a media landscape that doesn't usually represent Asian faces, food is one of the only places where we kind of have a voice. And for this guy to be having some kind of authoritative stance on how to eat Pho...ugh...it just triggered something."

Via Jenny Yang YouTube channel

What's been the response to the video?

"The response to the video has been tremendous. I think Facebook has been where it's really flown, last I checked over two million people have looked at the social media post. We have about 700 thousand views on the video, thousands of likes and it's just non-stop, I had to turn off my notifications...some people think it's real that's the funny part and then some people are just like, 'Is this Bon Appetit? 'Cause this is not a good follow-up look."

When the conversation happens in communities of color, we go there, but this might be hard for some people to hear.

"Yeah, I mean there are some people who are just like, 'Oh, why are you so butthurt?' can we say butthurt on KPCC? 'Why are you so butthurt about this, Asians?' 

Via Jenny Yang YouTube channel

So, why?

"Like I said, food is one of the few things we get to have on a mainstream stage in America and it's not just sensory deliciousness. It's about culture and identity, sometimes people have a stereotype that Asians are too polite or we don't speak back, but man make fun of our food and we will rise up."

To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.

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