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Sherry Cola on Why Raunchy Comedy Joy Ride Will Change the Game

Sherry Cola on Why Raunchy Comedy Joy Ride Will Change the Game

<p>Sherry Cola on Why Raunchy Comedy <em>Joy Ride</em> Will Change the Game</p>
Natt Lim Photography

The queer comic shares why her hilariously raunchy new summer flick could also change hearts and minds.

There’s a laugh-till-you-cry scene in Joy Ride in which the comedy’s four leads have consumed or hidden loads of drugs in — ahem — unlikely places. They’re hoping to avoid landing in the slammer in China after a run-in with an American drug dealer on a train. The character Lolo instructs her travel companion Kat to “push, pull, and twist” the remaining bag of cocaine stashed in her rectum. “It’s not a bop it….” Kat retorts, her face twisted with discomfort.

This hilarious interaction isn’t far afield for a raunchy comedy, traditionally the purview of cisgender, straight, white men from Animal House to The Hangover (Bridesmaids is a rare exception for one that centers women). But Joy Ride is a raunch-fest that Sherry Cola, a stand-up comic and star of Freeform’s Good Trouble, says is overdue and revolutionary in terms of AAPI visibility on screen. And the cherry on top of the already benchmark representation is the fact that three of the movie’s four leads are queer (Cola, Hsu, and Sabrina Wu, who plays Lolo’s cousin Deadeye).

“There’s never been a movie like this. I’m shocked that it’s being made. And it’s because of Hollywood kind of brainwashing us AAPI folks to have low expectations,” Cola says. “A project like this [is] essentially a dream come true, a fantasy project — this R-rated debauchery with Asian faces is so unique and rare that you don’t even believe it’s happening.”From director Adele Lim (a writer on Crazy Rich Asians) and screenwriters Teresa Hsiao (Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens) and Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (Family Guy), Joy Ride is a wild adventure of friendship, identity, and travel that follows Audrey (Ashley Park) and her pals to China, where they set out to find her birth mom. Shenanigans, booze, drugs, and outlandish sexual situations ensue. But first, Lolo, who aimlessly works in a restaurant while creating penis and vagina art in her downtime, and Kat, an actress in an epic Chinese soap, must resolve their jealousy over Audrey’s friendship (Lolo is the childhood friend and Kat the college roomie). Lolo and Kat work out their envy in a hilarious slap fight. Cola says she and Hsu, whom she befriended after being wowed by Hsu (now hot off of Everything Everywhere All at Once) in an episode of Nora from Queens — have labeled their jealousy as sexual tension.

“[Sexual tension] is in every corner of this film. There were moments where we were thinking like, Oh, it’d be so funny if we just kiss — kiss during the slap fight,” Cola says. “We joke about it a lot. And Stephanie will joke that ‘I’m all talk no action.’”

Watch Advocate Channel's interview with Joy Ride stars Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, and Sabrina Wu below.

No stranger to ensemble work, Cola has starred in The Fosters’ spin-off Good Trouble as Alice Kwan, a lesbian stand-up who manages the communal space where the gang lives. Lolo is queer, although it’s just one piece of her identity. Cola, who is also queer, calls Alice “her girl” and her “best friend.”

“I’ve been through five seasons with this incredible evolving character that has taught me so much — that has inspired viewers that are queer, that are Asian, that are women, everywhere,” Cola says, adding that Alice is much more trepidatious than the fearless Lolo.

Steve Jennings/Getty ImagesLeft to Right: 'Joy Ride' stars Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, Ashley Park, and Sabrina Wu

As for Joy Ride’s queer pedigree, that’s just one (crucial) piece of the film’s intersectionality.

“So many of the leads are queer and exist in the LGBTQ+ community. That is a big deal, and I don’t take that lightly. It’s about time that we prove ourselves to be multi-dimensional. For so long, we’ve been put in a box,” Cola says. “The industry has limited us, society has limited us, this country has limited us. And now we’re proving that we can check multiple boxes, but not in a way that is corny or unintentional. We’re just proving that we can just exist, and we happen to be part of multiple communities. Me, as an immigrant, queer Chinese American woman — the fact that my face is on a billboard is crazy.”

Joy Ride is a first of its kind. But there’s something else Cola wants to emphasize.

“It’s just funny first. That’s what we’re really trying to preach at the end of the day is it is a funny-ass movie that’ll bring people out to the theaters,” Cola says. “When [audiences] leave the theater, their jaws will be on the floor, whether it’s because it’s just like straight-up hilarious or it’s because they’re surprised, and we taught them something, right? This film will teach them something about Asian faces, about queerness….”

“We put so much love into it and so much sweat and tears and a little bit of blood,” Cola adds. And she means literal blood. “I fell out on my trailer,” she adds for context.

Joy Ride opens this Friday, July 7, at theaters nationwide. Watch the trailer here:

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