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Bowen Yang: 6 Videos Showcasing the Gay Asian SNL Star's Comedy

Bowen Yang: 6 Videos Showcasing the Gay Asian SNL Star's Comedy

Bowen Yang

Learn more about the history-making comedian through his stand-up, impersonations, and comedy routines.


Bowen Yang made history Thursday with the announcement he was joining Saturday Night Live this season as a series regular performer. The comedian is the first person of full Asian descent as well as the fifth LGBTQ person to be a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy series.

News that one of the other SNL additions, Shane Gillis, has an antigay past briefly turned the spotlight away from Yang. To right this wrong, take a look at videos of Yang's comedy below that showcase his unique and diverse world view.

1. 2 Dope Queens

Yang, 28, appeared on the second season of 2 Dope Queens, a podcast that showcases diverse comedians that was also taped for HBO. In the video above, Yang joked that his metallic outfit branded him a "BTS reject," a reference to the popular South Korean boy band. Clearly, he is unafraid to address his Asian ancestry (his parents are Chinese immigrants) as well as his gay identity in his comedy. Here, he compares a "Shanghai mule" he observed on a menu to a Moscow mule, but "just a little less homophobic."

2. Saturday Night Live

While Yang won't be joining SNL as a full-time cast member until later this month, he has been featured on the show before. In March of this year, he appeared alongside one of his longtime heroes, Sandra Oh, as Kim Jong-un. In the skit, Oh portrayed Jong-un's translator in a Kremlin meeting with Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett). Yang doesn't speak a word of English in the scene -- in fact, he spoke Korean words that actually matched Oh's translation -- but he steals the show with his ability to project skepticism with Putin's abilities to influence President Trump and world politics.

3. Sandra Oh

As mentioned, Sandra Oh is a role model to Yang -- so much so that he decided to study chemistry at New York University in order to follow in the footsteps of her fictional Grey's Anatomy character, Dr. Cristina Yang, according to an interview he gave to NPR. However, after joining several improv groups while in college, Yang discovered that it was Oh the actress, not her character, that he wanted to emulate. Here, he lip-synchs to a scene from Grey's in which he takes on the part of Dr. Yang. As a bonus, see below for a skit he co-penned for Oh, "Cheques," in his tenure as an SNL writer last year.

4. Yang Wears Prada

Dr. Yang is not the only character Yang has sunk his teeth into through videos posted to Twitter. The comedian regularly takes on famous scenes, which he lipsynchs to viral acclaim. Here, a video of Yang taking on Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), in her famous scene lecturing her assistant about the fashion industry in The Devil Wears Prada, has garnered over 2 million views. Yang nails it, but the impersonation gave him a newfound respect for the Oscar winner.

"One thing I have to have to have to say is that Meryl's characterization is waaaaaay more intense than I--and I think most people--realized," Yang wrote in the Twitter thread. "Everything above her mouth is STILL and I'm probably being too expressive in the vid. Her jaw is clenched. It's a lot, it's masterful."

5. The Actress

Yang clearly values the skills of a talented actress. Prior to the announcement he would become a cast member on SNL, Yang worked as a writer on the sketch comedy series. His comedic brilliance is on full display in "The Actress," one of the greatest and gayest skits in Saturday Night Live history, which he wrote with fellow out writer Julio Torres. In the segment, none other than Oscar winner Emma Stone tries to give life to the role of Deirdre, a minor female character in a gay porn scene. Her attempts to infuse a character who is essentially an inciting incident -- a woman comes home to discover her godson, played by an actual gay porn star, Ty Mitchell, is sleeping with her husband -- with a complex backstory is both ingenious and hilarious.

6. Alexander Wang

Yang took his impersonating skills to new heights -- or depths -- when he impersonated fashion designer Alexander Wang in Comedy Central's Up Next series. In the sketch, Wang is self-described as the "keeper of shadows and master of the realm of fabrics," who also decides to take a job as a barback due to a bet he lost with Diane von Furstenberg.

Be on the lookout for more sketch brilliance from Yang when SNL premieres September 28 with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.