Weekend Special: Asian American comedy troupe to serve hearty portion of sketch humor and cultural discourse

Stir-Friday Night!, billed as Chicago’s Premiere Asian American sketch comedy troupe, is making a stop at the College in Brower Student Center room 202E on Nov. 12 as part of its current campus tour. The show consists of an hour of “best-of” sketches followed by 20 minutes of improv, starts at 8 p.m. and admission is free.

When it was founded nine years ago by a group of Asian American performers, Stir-Friday Night! made an immediate impact on the Chicago comedy scene. Comprised of 10 comics, all of Asian descent, Stir-Friday Night! is at the forefront of the effort to blend sketch comedy and cultural discourse.

The troupe annually produces two original shows in Chicago, and spends the rest of the year performing its sketch and improv routines at conventions, festivals, corporate events and college campuses around the country.

Though all the players fall under the “Asian American” label, there is diversity within the group, as Stir-Friday Night! features performers of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Indian and Korean descent. This varied heritage plays a pivotal role in their sketches, as each player relates his unique experience as an Asian American.

“We make an effort to not hit the audience over the head with messages about stereotypes and social issues and make humor our main message (instead),” Jennifer Liu, Stir-Friday Night!’s youngest member, said. “But inevitably, by being Asian American we have personal experiences that often come out in our sketches.”

With this unique brand of social commentary through comedy, Stir-Friday Night! has found its niche in Chicago’s world renowned comedy scene. Stir-Friday Night! has close connections to the Windy City’s most famous sketch comedy troupe, Second City, which launched the careers of such well-known comics as Chris Farley, Mike Myers and Tina Fey.

“As a troupe, we have a great respect for Second City,” Liu said. “Many of us have trained there and even teach there currently.”

So what types of sketches can the College expect? “A few of the issues we touch on are the generational differences between parent and child, the stereotypes of being super smart, serious, exotic, kung-fu masters, how we often get pigeon-holed based on what we look like,” Liu said.

Their performance is part of AAA’s Experience Asia month, a series of programs presented each November to expose the campus community to Asian culture.

With years of hard work Stir-Friday Night has garnered the respect of its peers, the acclaim of critics and the support of a steadily growing multicultural fan base. The troupe said its biggest accomplishment, however, is just getting people to laugh.

“It’s funny, and who doesn’t like to laugh?” Liu said. “If you like comedy, even just a little bit, come to the show. If you don’t, stay in your dorm and cook up some ramen.”

– For more information on Stir-Friday Night!, visit stirfridaynight.org. For a complete listing of Experience Asia events, visit tcnj.edu/~aaa.