A new video from filmmaker, actress, and comedian Anna Akana portrays what it might look like if white men experienced racism and sexism in comedy. The video starts with a white man (played by actor/writer/comedian Brad Gage, Akana’s real-life boyfriend) walking into an improv class filled entirely with Asian women and getting a taste of the stereotyping and insensitivity that people of color experience in such situations all the time. He sits down, and someone asks him, “What kind of white are you?” Things go downhill from there.
As he attempts to improvise scenes with the other actors, the man is repeatedly forced to play white stereotypes, from “pedophile priest” to “frat boy” to (hilariously) someone arrested “for embezzling from Bank of America.” He tries to communicate his discomfort with the situation, saying, “It’s just a little frustrating, you know, to not see someone who looks like me in class, or on the stage. I mean, even when you’re at the higher levels, it’s all just Asian women.” One woman responds with an inversion of the popular, condescending refrain that crops up nearly every time someone complains about the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry: “Funny is funny, dude. It’s not our fault that most people in improv are Asian women.”
This sketch mirrors some of Akana’s own experiences as a woman of color in comedy. She told BuzzFeed, “I have been discouraged by how few POC are on stage at shows. For comedy auditions, there’s a ton of objectifying, hyper-sexualized Asian roles that are incredibly infuriating.” Akana has her own YouTube channel with nearly 1.4 million subscribers. “I get to play any role I want…,” she said of her YouTube videos. “Showing myself as a lead has given me opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Watch the whole thing below:
Check out more of Akana’s videos on her YouTube channel.
Images: YouTube (3)