Regular “Update” co-anchor Colin Jost brought Yang out, calling him the NBC late-night sketch comedy series’ “Asian cast member.”
But it was all part of the comedy of segment, as Yang first pretended to be concerned and confused that that was his “official title,” to which Jost said, “That’s how you told me to introduce you.”
“I set your ass up. It feels good,” Yang replied.
Things then turned much more serious, with Yang noting that “things for Asians in this country have been bleak for the past two weeks — and all the weeks before that since forever.”
Two years ago, for example, comedian Shane Gillis was fired from “Saturday Night Live” a week after his casting was announced because social media resurfaced anti-Asian comments he made, including using slurs to refer to Chinese people.
Yang did not address this, but he did say he has recently found posts with action items online and wanted to share some of those with the audience. They included checking in on AAPI friends to tell them they’re so hot, amplifying Asian voices “who want more Paneras in North Brooklyn” and calling senators to tell them about the lesbian characters in “Sailor Moon.”
While those were jokes, Yang admitted he didn’t know what to say to help “how insanely bad things are.”
“If someone’s personality is punching Asian grandmas, it’s not a dialogue. I have an Asian grandma, you want to punch her, there ain’t no common ground, mama,” he said. “I see my friends donating and that’s great, but then I also tell them: do more. You’re ordering from Chinese restaurants? Great. Do more. Let me know when you feed your white kids chicken feet. You cried during ‘Minari’? Congrats. I was sobbing into my boner for Steven Yeun. Do more.”
“And why are you telling me you tipped your manicurist well?” he continued. “Let me know when you get on your knees and scrub her feet while she looks at your phone. Do more.”
Yang added that he couldn’t address these things without also talking about class, gender and imperialism. “I don’t even want to be doing this ‘Update’ piece.”
“I’m just a comedian. I don’t have all the answers,” he went on. “But I’m not just looking for them online. I’m looking around me. The GoFundMe for Xiao Zhen Xie, the grandmother who fought back against her attacker raised $900,000, which she immediately gave back to the community. That’s where we are as Asians. Now come meet us there.”
“Saturday Night Live” airs live coast-to-coast Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.