Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show

Mon 20th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Miles Jackson

at 23:22 on 20th Aug 2018

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'Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show' is one of the more eye-catching titles you'll see at the Fringe. Unfortunately, despite undoubtedly coming from a important, positive and personal place, 'Slanty Eyed Mama’s two person show fails to inspire much beyond an eye roll.

An eclectic blend of stand-up routine, live electric violin set and comedy sketches, the show is the brainchild of Kate Rigg and Lyris Hung, two Juillard graduates who both sport impressive resumes. Rigg delivers a deconstruction of stereotypes afforded to Asian people while weaving in sketches that address subjects such as the immigrant experience and ‘the race card’. Meanwhile, Hung performs a musical soundtrack using her electric violin and an array of modulators and pedals.

Hung’s music is certainly one of the more impressive aspects of the piece, strumming the violin like a guitar to produce a genuinely eccentric, unique soundtrack. The lyrics Riggs performs over this backing are, however, a very mixed bag. The opener, ‘The Ching Chong Song’, is a savvy takedown of stereotypes afforded to Asians juxtaposed with the story of Vincent Chin, an Asian American murdered for the colour of his skin. A later song in which Rigg satirises ‘white girl problems’, however, is painfully lazy and unoriginal. A reference to Bitmoji already feels chronically dated.

The sketches are also a mixed bag. Rigg must be lauded for her attempts to consider perspectives that simply don’t get enough attention in modern comedy, although these are only occasionally successful. In what is by far the evening’s finest sketch, Rigg plays an Asian immigrant attempting to sell hilariously inappropriate merchandise at Ground Zero in New York City. The sketch simultaneously skewers the shocking glibness of ‘tragedy tourism’ while emphasising the horrifying indignity of the immigrant experience in present day America.

Unfortunately, the same magic isn’t present elsewhere in the show. A sketch involving Rigg playing an escort for a corporate overlord is amusing to begin with, but is essentially a one-note joke padded out longer than it needs to be. Similarly, a sketch about arts council funding feels like a missed opportunity, a clever idea that isn’t as funny as it should be.

In fairness, Rigg and Hung do emphasise that the performance was a ‘dress rehearsal’, so it’s unclear to what extent the show is still a work in progress. There are certainly glimpses of excellence in Rigg’s humour - and Hung’s musicianship only helps the show - but 'Happy Lucky...' frustrates more than it inspires, with much of the hour falling flat.

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Jasmine Silk

at 09:58 on 21st Aug 2018

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Going into 'Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show' I had no idea what to expect – but coming out, I am very glad I went. 'Slanty Eyed Mama' gave us a brilliantly satirical show combining music, stand up, and some brief sketches to take on all of the clichés and expectations facing Asian women growing up in the western world.

From the word go, Kate Riggs mix of spoken word and stand up, accompanied by Lyris Hung on her electric violin is a perfect mix of passive aggressive and genuinely likeable. While the show addresses and attacks stereotypes head on, it never feels preachy or loses the audience. This is thanks to Rigg’s charisma and ability to build a positive relationship with her audience.

Hung’s music is brilliantly ‘rock n roll’ with Rigg’s lyrics maintaining all the satirical brilliance she has when she is speaking, with all the rock star charisma that the music demands. With names like ‘The Ching Chong Song’, ‘Bowl Cut Blues’, or even ‘Rice, Rice, Baby’ there is never a sense that they are taking themselves too seriously, which makes the audience far more receptive to their message.

This is not by any means to say they pull punches; she sings “my fortune cookie says fuck you” and on a far more serious note she directly addresses the murder of Vincent Chin, who was beaten to death in a Detroit suburb by two men. Vincent Chin was attacked, according to his killers, because of the loss of US auto-manufacturing jobs to Japan in the 80s. This all too familiar ‘job stealing’ rhetoric sadly remains prevalent today, which makes raising this case extremely effective and relevant. They ask the audience: “What will you say to Vincent Chin’s mother?” A sobering lyric, which brings home why it is so necessary to fight these harmful stereotypes and attitudes no matter the scale. But while this part is sobering, the show changes so fast it doesn't stay like that for long. They switch back to comedy with ease, while still addressing the issue from a different angle.

This really is “funky urban representasian,” as they said in the show, and it provides a very enjoyable hour of comedy, which you leave feeling more aware of the issues surrounding Asian representation and stereotyping. It’s definitely well worth getting down to see ‘Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show’ during their short run here at the fringe which ends on the 25th.

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