The Wong Street Journal comes to ASU Gammage on Jan. 20

Social and political issues are showing up in comedy routines more often than ever before

At a point in time where the lines between culture and politics are blurred, comedians are using social and political issues in their shows and sets. Kristina Wong, one such comedian, will be returning to ASU Gammage with a new message to share on Jan. 20.

Wong's show “The Wong Street Journal" uses social media and multimedia to showcase issues such as poverty and the economic divide in post-conflict Northern Uganda.

Wong said when she creates a show she has a problem to solve in mind, but the problem ends up being larger than she originally imagined. 

“I really learn from the process and I never know how it is going to turn out from the beginning of the process to the end," Wong said.

A preview of "The Wong Street Journal."

Wong uses the power of comedy to educate, entertain and introduce the audience to social and political issues. 

“I think comedy has always been political," Wong said. "Comedians have had to address the difference that you see in front of you and make it human and relatable.” 

Wong said it's important for comedians to use their craft to influence society instead of relying on gender stereotypes and slapstick.

"I feel like this is a real moment of crisis especially now," Wong said. "Culture is so important, culture is what will shift policy.” 

Freshman political science major Elika Ruintan is a member of the ASU comedy troupe Tempe Late Night and has been an activist for as long as she can remember. 

Ruintan said that there is a stigma around persons of color in comedy due to cultural stereotypes and family expectations. She also said that there is an expectation that female comics aren't as funny as their male counterparts.

“Having both of those barriers in front of you can be a little bit threatening," Ruintan said. "I think we're entering a world where women of color in comedy are more necessary than ever.”

Julia Himberg, an assistant professor of film and media, said that using comedy for the purposes of social commentary is one of the oldest, most universal, and most significant forms of humorous expression.

“What the comic is doing is reflecting back to us as a society," Himberg said. "There can be change in a literal sense but there's also a way in which the kind of experience of public joking lets you know, as an audience, what deserves to be ridiculed and what deserves to be affirmed."

Himberg also said that comedy can bring about real change and that the representation of social minorities in comedy is vital to give them a voice in society. 

Wong agrees that being a person who brings up important social and political issues in this modern day world is very important.

“It used to be that we would listen to politicians and laugh at comedians but now we laugh at politicians and listen to comedians,” Wong said, quoting a protest sign she said she once saw that resonated with her. 

Wong also said it is important to be politically active and even wants to run for public office — an online quiz suggested that she run for governor of California. In the modern world, she said, anything is possible.

“When comedians can take disturbing current events and make it funny, it helps people stay more informed and optimistic at the same time,” Ruintan said.


 Reach the reporter at jlmyer10@asu.edu or follow @jessiemy94 on Twitter. 

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