The Zombie Asian Moms Are Coming To NYC and they are Hilarious
Some moms want their kids to follow their own hearts and dreams. Other moms want the same as long as those heart and dreams lead to medical school. Comedian/writer Kate Rigg and violinist Lyris Hung believe that the Asian mothers they know and love fall into the latter category. These self-described “two good Asian girls gone bad-ass” are the performance art duo known as Slanty Eyed Mama. Their latest show, Zombie Asian Moms, is a hilarious and personal round up of Asian mom lore. They cover it all – from tiger mom culture, to the questionable fashion sense of wearing sandals with socks and sun visors 365 days a year.
Rigg and Hung met at Julliard. They created Slanty Eyed Mama as way to tell stories that reflected their heritage and their shared experiences as first-generation Asian Americans. For their new show they drew inspiration from their own moms as well as interviews they did with other Asian moms. While they want to try and break stereotypes and paradigms, they’re not exactly putting out a TED talk. This show is a genre defying mix of electric violins, spoken word, comedy and sketch. Says Rigg, “I’m trying to elevate the conversation through jokes and rock n roll.”
Rigg believes that many Asian Americans don’t feel like they’re part of the American discourse. This is in part because each generation grew up in very different societies. This new show attempts to shine a spotlight on immigrant parents and their Westernized children. “Asians are a newer culture,” Rigg says, “Unlike other minority groups we haven’t been in this country for many, many generations. Every year a new wave of immigrants brings over what is essentially the first generation of Asian Americans. It’s hard to own anything that’s American when you’re first generation because you’ve got one foot in America and the other foot is back with your ancestors screaming at you to go to medical school.”
Asian moms have been the brunt of jokes for years. From mannerisms to values, it’s a stereotype most of us know. One of the most successful Asian American comedians, Margaret Cho, has spent years talking about and imitating her own Asian mom in her stand-up act. Rigg sees the similarities but points out that not all Asian moms are the same. Says Rigg, “Margaret Cho is so bad ass and she’s so lucky because her mom was nice to her, her mom was always very encouraging of her, she didn’t say you’re a turd and you’re bringing shame on the family which is what my mom basically said to me my entire life.”
This show goes beyond just the caricature to bring out the nuances between familial generations. It addresses not just how Asian parents view the choices of their first-generation children but also how those same children are viewed by society in general. “It’s about really asserting that Asian Americans are Americans,” Rigg says, “There’s a racism that’s applied to Asian American people in that they’re not American, they’re always a foreigner. It’s always, ‘Where are you from?’ It’s fucking racist as fuck. There’s a lot of suspicion and derision that occurs when you’re looked at like that.” She adds, “We’re hitting on some serious immigrant issues, but all comedy has to be grounded in a little bit of truth.”
Zombie Asian Moms promises to be something unique. “I want people to leave and be like ‘Holy shit, I’ve never seen anything like that before,” she says, “I want people to come away knowing Asian people better. Knowing their stories and laughing together and knowing more about lactose intolerance.”