There’s a primary difference between the SNL hosting choice of Awkwafina vs. Lucy Liu from 18 years back. Lucy was a pioneer, an old guard. An old hated guard. She was what White America thought we wanted: a pretty, sex-symbol Asian woman famous in an era of other pretty sex-symbol Asian women. The era had goofy, comedic Asian men (Dr. Ken Jeong, a revitalized Rush Hour Jackie Chan), heavy doses of martial arts and white people participating in Asian things. What white America thought Asian America wanted, we actually wanted the reverse.
Awkwafina would not have hosted SNL, pre-Crazy Rich Asians. She’s everyday-looking, has the voice of Macy Gray and definitely does not fit the dragon lady stereotype. She’s the layman Asian, the cousins and siblings who act and look like her. She’s funny, talented, relateable. This was Asian America’s choice, and last Saturday’s choice for Awkwafina to host SNL is hugely significant, because White America finally got it right. We want funny, everyday Asian women and we want sexy Asian men. These two ideals shatter the stereotypes of the dragon massage lady and the goofy Asian male sidekick. It gives me hope that White America is listening.
Asian-American issues are now a hot topic. White people are eating it up like when sushi turned mainstream. I enjoyed how sprinkles of it carried into the SNL sketches. The Lucy Liu era wouldn’t have gotten into Asian topics and even though I admit the Awkwafina SNL sketches were lame, the entire show permeated of Asian America.
Progress on, AsAm. Progress on.
Rating the monologue and seven SNL Awkwafina sketches:
Awkwafina passed on a comedy route and decided to dedicate her monologue to Lucy Liu. She also gave a touching nod that Asian America has come a long way.
Rating: A+ (The A standing for Asian pride)
This sketch allowed Awkwafina to be Awkwafina. She has fantastic, natural comedic timing and plays a bit of an extension to her Crazy Rich Asians character. The “pizza is like a plate” joke is criminally underrated. The ride-or-die friend character is such a refreshing play on what’s usually not seen in Asian roles. The sketch works…and it breaks stereotypes.
Very awful. Idea wasn’t funny, execution was poor, Awkwafina didn’t do much. Mikey Day is one the least funny current cast members on SNL and shouldn’t be leading a sketch. I didn’t laugh once. Fucking pumpkins can be funny, but this sketch didn’t do it right.
LATE NIGHT BATTLE
This was the funniest sketch. Although it was a little corny, Awkwafina fits. I feel SNL guests are better when it’s a sketch related to their element. I wish she was given a rapping role. (Also, Chris Redd can really dance and it was nice to see Trevor Scott make a cameo.)
Totally wasted sketch. It’s got some funny one-liners, but overall every actor in it showed as much joylessness being in it as I did watching it. I’m glad they didn’t do a racist nail salon joke though. I was holding my breath for one the whole time.
This was a very daring sketch and maybe should’ve been put into the “too soon” category. It’s more of a Kate McKinnon sketch and I only noticed Awkwafina because she was sitting right next to Kate. This sketch might be funny over time, but in the midst of the #Metoo movement, the comedy wasn’t enough tragedy plus time. (“There was plenty of parts for Asian gals in the 1940’s…and I played all of them.” – great joke!) Kate McKinnon did her best.Rating: C+
TED CRUZ RALLY
If you dislike Ted Cruz, you’ll love this sketch, which means everyone loved this sketch. Awkwafina didn’t do much here, but it does make me wish she was a regular SNL cast member. She and Kenan has such great chemistry. Beck Bennett (and the writers) nailed the un-coolness of Ted Cruz.
SO YOU’RE WILLING TO DATE A MAGICIAN
A rather boring sketch from what seemed like a great idea. Some of the jokes gave me a chuckle, but SNL has done funnier dating show sketches before (like this one: Kiss Me I’m Irish). Leslie Jones accidentally laughing might be the funniest part. Awkwafina didn’t do much.