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Bowen Yang

Bowen Yang
Bowen Yang

In high school, comedian Bowen Yang was voted "most likely to be on Saturday Night Live," a prophecy he shrugged off in his interview with NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg. "It wasn't specifically that people were like, he's going to end up on that show. It was just like, "Oh, Bowen he does improv in the cafeteria every other Friday... he tries to get us to come back to school and watch him do short form improv.""

The child of immigrant parents, he grew up without cable but spent his Saturday evenings adjusting the bunny ears on his family's television to religiously watch Saturday Night Live. In 2020 he made history when he became the first Chinese-American cast member on the show.

Yang began his time with Saturday Night Live in 2018 in the writer's room. When he appeared on Ask Me Another in 2019 he talked about the show's rigorous audition process and how, by the end of it, he was running out of Asian public figures to impersonate. "I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel by the end. I did, like, Michiko Kakutani and like... I thought about doing Hanya Yanagihara."

Yang also discusses his love of pop culture on his podcast Las Culturistas with comedian Matt Rogers. His Ask Me Anotherchallenge combined some of his favorite TV shows and video games into new, imaginary crossovers.

Interview Highlights:

On the era ofSaturday Night Liveduring COVID-19

I think it's mostly the same, although it's kind of a fun unwrapping moment on Saturday when cast members take the masks off. Because throughout the entire week, all the way up to dress rehearsal, even when we're watching ourselves block the sketches on camera, everyone has their mask on. Which is how it should be. I think it has been a nice precaution that has erred on the side of safety. It's a fun thing to remind each other that we have faces.

On the newfound popularity of the gameAnimal Crossing

I was an early adopter. I was really really looking forward to it coming out even before lockdown happened and then of course everyone glommed onto it. And I embrace that that's the whole point of the game, you want to build a community throughout this video game. I love it. I bless it. I got really freaked out within the 4th week, like other people having more developed islands than me. And I felt weirdly inadequate so I stopped.

Heard on Mayim Bialik & Saturday Night Live's Bowen Yang: Our Best New Show Of 2021.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.