-Welcome to the show, Bowen. -Hi! Thank you for having me.
-I’m so happy you’re here. -I’m very happy to be here, wow. -And this is — this is
a workday for you. -It’s a workday.
-This is the Monday pitch day. And when I first met you,
when I hosted, you were a writer on the show.
-Yes. -And then you became
a cast member. You had auditioned before
you became a writer. -Yeah, a few times.
-And what did you — What were your audition pieces? -So I never thought it
would happen, so I just had fun with it. So I would do just like
really — just silly people. I did my soul cycle instructor, I did the choking poster guy. -Uh-huh.
[ Laughter ] -And then they would ask you
to do impressions every time. -Yeah.
-I had to go back in a few times, and then I —
at a certain point I just ran out of Asian
public figures. -Yeah.
[ Laughter ] -So then I really, like, scraped
the bottom of the barrel and I did, like,
Michiko Kakutani. Do people know who she is?
[ Light laughter ] -A “New York Times”
book reviewer. -Thank you.
-Yeah. -Thank you, Seth.
-And was like — I mean, ripe for the taking. -So ripe. She —
-And I mean, for years Lorne would be like,
“We don’t have –” -“Where’s Michiko?” Who’s going to use the word
“limn” in a sketch? [ Light laughter ]
Um, she — So the thing about
her is that she was never — she’s never really been
photographed, and no one knows what she sounds like. -Perfect for an impression.
[ Laughter ] -But, it gave me free reign to
do whatever I wanted. -Yeah, there you go.
-So it was great. It was fun. -One of your first characters
you did on the show was, I guess, the minister of trade,
-The Trade Daddy. -Trade Daddy. Yeah. Chen Biao.
[ Cheers and applause ] -How did this — how did this
come to pass? -This was — this was part of
my, I think — one of my — in one of my auditions,
I did him right as the trade war was starting, and I was like,
“It feels topical, but, like, how do you make
this funny?” And then really the only way
to do that is just to make him catty and mean.
-Yeah. -So that’s just who he is.
-It paid off. You — you also —
this was before you were a full cast member.
-Yes. -You played Kim Jong-Un.
-Yes. -And —
[ Laughter ] -K.J.U., K.J.U. -K.J.U. He loves it, right?
-He loves it. -He loves it, right?
Yeah. [ Light laughter ] And you — but this is
fantastic. Because again, this was before
you were a full cast member, so you also had a sketch
that you’d written in the show independent of this. -I was going through, like,
a super-long dry spell. When you first start out
as a writer, you’re just getting
your bearings. And you don’t really get stuff
on, and that’s fine. It’s part of, like, the crucible
you have to walk through. But then that show, I — I helped write two
pretaped sketches and I was helping
on her monologue. And it was the busiest,
busiest — I haven’t had as busy of a week
as that since. Like, even as a cast member.
And we did this. I was in my Kim Jong-Un,
and then had to run under the bleachers during
dress rehearsal. So, when you’re writing
a sketch, you have to go sit next to Lorne,
under the audience, and he’s watching and he’s
giving you notes. He’s like, “Maybe we could cut
to Kenan sooner,” or something. And then —
[ Laughter ] But I was still
in the full K.J.U. — fit. And then just, like, sat next to
him while he was, like, giving me feedback
and I was like, “Yeah, uh-huh.” -But that’s the only way
Lorne respects you is if you dress like a dictator.
-Absolutely. [ Laughter ]
Absolutely. -He’s like, “You could do —
or not.” “Or not.
Just depending on — yep. It’s up to you today.”
-Exactly. [ Laughter ] -You — also, that was —
Sandra Oh hosting was — -Yes. -…just exciting
in its own right. But she was a big deal for you,
yeah? -She was a big deal for me. I remember seeing her
in “The Princess Diaries” and thinking,
“Who is that woman?” And then I stumbled on an
episode of “Arli$$” and I was like,
“Okay, this is not age-appropriate for me
as a child.” [ Laughter ]
And then — And then, like, watched
“Grey’s Anatomy” and thought, “Oh, I’m gonna be a doctor.” -Just because of Sandra Oh
playing one on TV? -Just because of —
-And then, really, it’s an example of
bad representation, because it tricks Asian people into going into
the medical field. [ Laughter ] -Yeah. -When they should be doing
something else. [ Laughter ]
-Now I do want to point out, like, people you grew up around
had some ideas that this was going to happen.
This is really cool. Your superlative was
“Most likely to be a cast member on ‘Saturday Night Live.'”
[ Laughter and applause ] -That’s kinda crazy.
That’s wild. -That’s really —
-It’s weird. -So…
-It’s weird. -Like, if I’m doing
the math right, you had a 10-year reunion. Did you get to go?
-I did not go, because our student body
class president is nowhere to be found.
-Oh, no. -So, I hope he’s doing okay. Zach Glenn,
if you’re doing okay, please let us know? [ Laughter ] But no, it never came together. But I would have loved to go.
-Well, it’s really — It’s really sweet…
-Yeah. -…that they — the fact —
like, you have to see them again collectively, because they will
feel so right. -Sure.
-Like, no one — -Got it. -…no one who writes
superlative — Like, at Donald Trump’s
high school, it wasn’t like, “Most likely to be
impeached,” you know? -Sure, sure, absolutely. They should all be
agents or something. -They should all be agents now. You — so you were born
in Australia — grew up in Colorado,
born in Australia. -Yes. And then Montreal
was in between. So my dad and my mom
met in China, then they moved to Brisbane. Was born there with my sister,
and then we moved to Montreal, and then we moved to Denver. So I’ve lived in all these
places that used to be owned by England.
-Yeah. -I’m a little Commonwealth
baby. Yeah. [ Laughter ]
-So your parents are Chinese. Are they — were they excited
when they heard you were on “SNL”? -They knew that
I liked the show. They knew it was a big deal for
me when I got hired as a writer. But then, they asked me — They did not know
what the show was. And, so, they were like,
“Does this mean you have to move
to Hollywood now?” Or something.
They don’t know that it’s here. -So they didn’t know the first
detail about the show. -Exactly.
-Yeah. -Truly the first piece of
information that’s given out on the show is that it’s in New
York, and they didn’t know. -Have they been able to come
and see it? -They have.
They came a couple times. They came last year
for my birthday during Liev Schreiber’s show.
-Oh, that’s good. -And they really
liked Lil Wayne. [ Laughter ] My dad was like,
“He’s really good. [ Laughter ] He’s got bars.” And then — And then they came
for the premiere this season, too, which was so great.
-Oh, that’s great. -Yeah.
-Hey, I’m so happy you’re on the show, and I’m so
happy to have you here today. It’s just absolutely fantastic
talking to you. -Thanks so much, Seth.
This is so great. -Bowen Yang, everybody.