ABOUT THIS EPISODE

When the summer lush beauty of the Cape and the Islands and the Berkshires draw thousands of visitors. It’s prime time for the hotels, the gift shops, the ferries, and restaurants in the resort areas, which depend on seasonal profits for their year round livelihood. For years they’ve also depended on temporary foreign workers assigned H2B Visas. But now the specialized Visas are in short supply and small business owners are taking a hit to the wallet.
Later in the show, Comedian Jimmy O. Yang 's funny memoir is a both a riotous and heartfelt remembrance of his coming to the US and becoming a citizen. Just in time for July 4th, this unique immigrant story is very much a love letter to America.

Guests:
Nancy Gardella, the executive director of Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
Peter Hall, president and general manager of the Van Rensselaer's Restaurant & Raw Bar and general manager and sole member of Catch of the Day restaurant, both in South Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
And Jimmy O. Yang, author of “How to American: The Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents”








Follow Callie on Twitter: @CallieCrossley




Like UTR on Facebook: facebook.com/UndertheRadarWGBH
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:01Under the radar meanies authenticity not being filtered it's a window in on the local stories that touch our lives and there's a huge roy in the traditional media covering this new faces of boston You may not be looking for a particular story but when you hear about it
00:00:18you're engaged under the radar means head of a curve it's also perspectives How does this particular story affect the community or neighborhood I'm callie crossley this week on under the radar with callie crossley summer when the lush beauty of the cape and the islands draws thousands of visitors
00:00:38it's prime time for the hotels the gift shop the fairies and restaurants in the resort areas which depend on seasonal profits for their year round livelihood For years they've also depended on temporary foreign workers assigned h two b visas but now the specialized visas are in short supply
00:00:57and small business owners are taking a hit to the wallet later in the show Comedian jimmy o yang's funny memoir is both a riotous and heartfelt remembrance of his coming to the u s and becoming a citizen just in time for july fourth This unique immigrant story is
00:01:14very much a love letter to america how to american and immigrant's guide to disappointing your parents is our july pick for bookmarked the under the radar book club But first the latest h two b visa crisis and its impact here in massachusetts joining me from the print shop
00:01:33studio in oak bluffs martha's vineyard nancy gardella the executive director of martha's vineyard chamber of commerce and tourism welcome nancy Thank you so much calleigh And also joining me from w om our studio in provincetown cape cod is peter hall president and general manager of the van ryn
00:01:53saliers restaurant and rob are he's also general manager and president of catch of the day restaurant both and south wellfleet massachusetts hello peter Hello callie Well i'm glad to have you This is a story that is important for the state of massachusetts for the cape and the islands
00:02:11but also it's quite personal to me I spend quite a bit of time on the cape and on martha's vineyard specifically and so i became aware of what this age to be visa situation was actually last year when there was a bit of attention paid to it because
00:02:26of it seemed new kinds of restrictions that had not been in place So first i want to just explain to people what an h two b visa is and i want them to understand there are number of specialized visa but we're really just talking about this h two
00:02:41b visa this brings peter foreign workers here temporarily and then they go back home so talk to me are explain as you can so people understand what an h two b visa worker is Well i try to bring in line cooks people we can train and a lot
00:02:59most of them come back year in year out as a rule They're from jamaica from europe and they come for about six or seven months and they are the core of our cooking crew I have a professional chef in both restaurants I have great management both places as
00:03:18faras in the kitchen but they're the next tear down They take care of the preparation the food cooking and as a rule takes about a month to get them online to cook And we usually like the h two b because if we get in two months ahead so
00:03:33they're ready for the summer season So what happened last year and continue this year and and there's actually an extra twist this year that made it worse There are sixty six thousand eight to be visas given out a year thirty three thousand in the first half of the
00:03:48fiscal year and that's starts about october first for folks like yourself peter and nancy the other businesses on martha's vineyard they may put in their applications in january first Just looking ahead as peter has just said to get his workers in on time so we can get them
00:04:05trained This comes from the department of labor and department of homeland security there was never enough but now they're been restrictions to how many and this year they added a twist and made it a lot of reese so even if you put in your application it wasn't just
00:04:22a matter of even then having a chance of getting a very limited number they put your name in the lottery and you may not get anything because it's a lottery talk about that if you wouldn't answer that presents numerous challenges The fact of the matter is coastal communities
00:04:39simply don't have available workforce to fill these jobs and that's where the seasoned adult employees coming through on the h two b visas become such a critical component to our work for us and without those workers it could be catastrophic to the small businesses on cape card martha's
00:05:03vineyard and nantucket One of the things that is now confusing and let's lift up william keating who's been out front he represents the cape in the islands and he's been out front trying to get the attention of particularly the department of homeland security to say we're hurting here
00:05:18this is really impacting american small businesses and one of the things that he has said over and over again is that the age to be visa program now has been conflated with an immigration issue it's been caught up in that sort of controversy about are we who are
00:05:35we letting in the country why why can't americans do this job blah blah blah so i need both of you to explain that these jobs are not taking away from americans Peter well we started this process last year august first and got in in january first i'm constantly
00:05:52looking for cook's after we were rejected the first time and going to puerto rico i went to puerto rico to gather some help to and that didn't work either and let me pause right there and say if going to puerto rico seemed like and for some people it
00:06:06has worked a solution because puerto ricans are americans so they don't need the visa well one of the problems with porter records our group went down too early because they didn't draw the age to be lottery until the end of march and we were there in january so
00:06:21we could not really offer jobs we don't want have multiple amounts of jobs listed i only have so many beds and only have so many jobs i'm a small business i really was only going for seven visas so we brought up one and he went home already i
00:06:36hired another he went home already i've had ads and craigslist and indeed and we're the mouth and calling all my associates throughout the country that i know i went to u mass amherst and we have a great network and everyone says there is no cooks and i'm lucky
00:06:55that i have two young people who have stepped forward who will want to be servers and moved to the kitchen butts a lot of work to train someone who is really young and they're doing a great job but it's a lot of work on my management team exactly
00:07:09and the plain truth of the matter is a lot of people a lot of americans don't want thes jobs i want to play a clip from cgt in america this was done last year which helps explain for people who are still probably struggling right Well why don't why
00:07:24aren't there plenty of people around on the cape around on the islands where the high school students so here's a little bit more background about why it's so tough to get people to take these jobs The visas are captain sixty six thousand per year but in recent years
00:07:37returning workers didn't count toward that limit this year that exception wasn't made for them The changes are meant to encourage the hiring of more americans but businesses in cape cod are already offering high wages up to twenty dollars an hour for dishwashers and they haven't been able to
00:07:55attract enough americans to do the work So nancy to be extra clear in order to even apply for these visas businesses have to advertise for american workers and they do I can tell you callie that on martha's vineyard we need workers We need approximately thirty five hundred to
00:08:18four thousand seasonal employees every year and quite frankly there aren't that many available workers on martha's vineyard to take those jobs So we also have a short season which also compounds are problem on the cape and islands We can apply for workers as peter referenced or find them
00:08:43in other areas and have jobs available to them in april or may Our jobs really come available after memorial day and because of a very robust fall season we need those people to stay through october so we have a peculiar season are available workforce which might be high
00:09:07school seniors or retirees are not available for the kinds of jobs that we need covered and the blessing of a robust economic situation or recovery is that visitors are coming if we can't service them if we if our restaurants can't be opened if people can't get services that'll
00:09:31take that spend in massachusetts potentially take it out of the state which is now it becomes a statewide problem If you're just tuning in this is under the radar with callie crossley i'm callie crossley and i'm speaking with nancy gardella of martha's vineyard chamber of commerce and tourism
00:09:50you just heard her and peter hall of the van ryn saliers restaurant and rob are and catch of the day restaurants i wantto highlight what you just said nancy gardella it's a robust economy that has a double edged sword so maybe there might be people who would take
00:10:07seasonal work just a few months if there couldn't get other work and maybe there wouldn't be as many people wanting service were there not the economy and so when the two come together it's a recipe for actually not supporting the small businesses on the cape in the islands
00:10:25that's absolutely correct kelly we're seeing business people have to compromise ours that they're open and available the types of services they can offer because they simply can't find the employees to fill the need and again i can't emphasize this enough we are in an area where these jobs
00:10:49have been posted for months and i'm sure peter would tell you the same thing no one is coming forward no americans air coming forward thes air good paying jobs thes jobs go from three to five months full time most of them and are available workforce is already working
00:11:10so we are desperate for these h two b visa workers many of our employers have had relationships with their visa employees where they've been coming for a number of years the employer has invested time and energy into training these workers and rely on them to come back year
00:11:35after year some of them in managerial or supervisory rules and that can all be lost when your lottery number isn't picked So peter pick up on that because peter hall president general manager of van ryn saliers restaurant and rob are and catch of the day restaurants because when
00:11:56we first talked to you in my producer first talked to you you had closed one day a week I don't know if that's still the case and you were concerned that you might not be ableto open some places at all on some days even more than that as
00:12:09the season progressed where are you right now Well we were able to get open for all i shifts now but we're not able to open all our dining rooms right now not being able to open my porch affects the fact i can't work three of my american servers
00:12:26and that's not healthy one one of the problems with the age to be process also is it's The best thing available for us all is they are on ly ableto work for us which is great for us but not for them Just as a comment which means if
00:12:42they work illegally for a second employer that's another job that's taken yeah that means that if there's five hundred thousand jobs that aren't in our area or martha's vineyard there's double that amount of jobs that aren't filled so it's a double whammy i've only had probably two applicants
00:13:03so far and you have to always check references and everything it's very hard so did you get any age to be visa workers Were you lucky enough to get some either from the original sixty six thousand or the additional fifteen thousand that were added after a great amount
00:13:20of pressure was brought to bear on the department of homeland security I actually re applied for the second batch on may thirty first the lottery was june fourth were told we'd know within a week and they'd already done the lottery it was between the fourth and sixth on
00:13:36the lottery and i heard the twenty seventh of june that i didn't get it right now we're we're scrambling to train young people who've never cooked in their lives to become really cooks fry cooks garma jay's breakfast cooks it's double the effort but at least now j once
00:13:57came in mass finally we have people to train but it's from ground eh I don't want to get distracted from h two b visas but the j ones you referred to our students and so there's potentially some availability for those coming over on those visas who are students
00:14:14to maybe do the work but you've just mentioned one of the big issues which is training all these people to a level of service that people expect when they come to a resort area so now you know all this has taken place as the season was ramping up
00:14:28you know memorial day is really the kickoff but we're heading into july fourth you know this is the season now so what do you expect toe happen as you have really the workers that you're going tohave in place how are you going to manage Is everybody working overtime
00:14:46Well all my manages air training people constantly and unfortunately there's more trainees than there are managers on and we try to make sure everyone has at least one day off as of last week i only had two of my j ones here out of sixteen all during may
00:15:03they were also rejected at their embassies finally we got him through a different group but we have to teach them everything in sign language more so reading language even with their english good they have to be able to understand what they have to prepare and most of it's
00:15:19very foreign to them the new travel ban that's been imposed from certain countries will that impact the j ones those students that now you're using as filler I think that thing that rejects them the most is the ones who disappear into the country from certain countries okay makes
00:15:35it so we can't get him from those countries got you all right just just so people have ah and understanding i'm even more personal understanding if you will of of what this looks like on the ground when you are the person in the resort area trying to get
00:15:51a meal at one of peter's restaurants or or get a hotel space i became aware of a tsh to be visas and of their importance last summer because donovan who's the bartender and nancy is one of my favorite restaurants in oak bluffs was not able to come in
00:16:06until very late in the season and that was after the expectation that he wouldn't make it at all because of a lot of these concerns here's a clip from a dirty water media video report of donovan who was very popular making a drink called dirty banana i'm the
00:16:21famous and done event of donovan's reef here down it over class now your most famous drink is what i don't even know of course all right let's make it okay okay filmmaking to like one banana for tutoring all right marker yeah well booth my secret sauce so where
00:16:53you from I'm from jamaica So is this is this a secret sauce to make it yeah make it so i played that not because i like a good cocktail i do but but to make the point that donovan is one of the people well known part of the
00:17:08family if you will at nancy's the manager there talked about you know taking a hit from his absence of course he had people to fill in at the bar but if you've ever been to nancy's when donovan is there the line is wrapped around the block to get
00:17:21both his famous dirty banana and anything else that he makes so we're talking about real dollars here really money nancy gardella we certainly are i mean the overall visitors spend on martha's vineyard in twenty sixteen was one hundred and sixty one million dollars that's one hundred and sixty
00:17:40one million dollars of other people's money coming into our economy callie and that result in a tremendous tax revenue for the state of massachusetts So while we are talking about small businesses the beauty of the small businesses that dot martha's vineyard nantucket in cape cod what we're talking
00:18:01about is really tax revenue for the state of massachusetts that comes out of visitors pockets and i don't know anything's that's better than other people's money and when businesses aren't able to stay open they're not able to generate those kind of dollars for the state it has a
00:18:21domino effect it's bo bad for business locally but it's bad for business across the state nancy you said you know we're going to lose because our own government works against us talk about what you mean they're well a couple of things there was ah there was ah gop
00:18:40forwarded bill that that had come forward to allow for some h to be cap relief that was defeated just the other day and quite honestly held hostage because the language in the bill was affecting daca recipients it was funding for border wall i mean it had so much
00:19:06other unrelated language in it that it became impossible to pass that's our own government working against small businesses i i have to tell you though i can't commend the efforts of congressman keating and his staff mawr in forwarding this issue for us on a national level they're doing
00:19:33i can't imagine any office any congressional office doing mohr than they're doing we know that our own our own state representatives both senator seer and representative hernandez are amazingly supportive but it feels like our federal government is turning a deaf ear to our plight and by the way
00:20:03cape cod martha's vineyard nantucket just a small park it of communities across the country going through the same okay if you're just tuning in this is under the radar with callie crossley i'm callie crossley and i'm here with nancy gardella and peter hall we're talking about how the
00:20:19h two b visa crisis which has hit the cape and islands bottom line is having a greater impact than just the cape and islands I want to pick up on that because we're concentrating on the cape in the islands because this is our conversation and it's and it's
00:20:34local but we're talking about communities across the country so there's big stories about golf courses and cooks needed and housekeeping needed in colorado In philadelphia you name it there is all kinds of places that are lacking now rest on the golf course is for just one second because
00:20:54the president mar a lago estate well known for its golfing facilities they've applied and have used very frequently eight to be visa workers So you think somebody could get it straight that this is not an immigration issue This is as nancy gardella has said a small business issue
00:21:17these again our temporary foreign workers who come and leave then they come back the next year and then they leave a game and they only come and leave after those jobs have been offered two americans vigorously you were required to advertise all up and down your area and
00:21:37beyond that and when you don't then get a response peter hall then that's how these workers have moved into place to help you out So let me ask this question and by the way nancy mentioned the bill that just got voted down this week that was a part
00:21:51of people are trying to remember that was a part of the overall general immigration bill that the republican caucus was trying to put forward but to nancy's point the age to be visas properly should not have been a part of that bill cause it's not about immigration so
00:22:10what do you do now looking forward how do you um prepare for what seems to be uh maybe now an ongoing problem every year Well we're looking at our menus we're looking at the hours that we work i've been lucky most of my managers have been with me
00:22:29for a long time so we can concentrate on making it easier for us it means i menu's gonna be cut down the hours in the end if this is going to persist it will in the end what they intended to do which was higher more americans is going
00:22:45to mean less jobs as far as a lot of the mike mike co owners in the area and everything else it's it's been a very trying stressful time trying to find help Ah telling my cooks i got people hopefully on the kama j once and every time i
00:23:01turned around say they were rejected going for the h two b's and then hearing they're rejected again and advertising and even on indeed were getting maybe one hit a weak and usually it's from someplace and someone who's never done anything yet and you do need some real quality
00:23:20workers to start with in certain spots so you can train the others have you started to hear from customers from someone like myself who might be coming through saying g lad two years ago when i was here you were open twenty four seven or whatever you were open
00:23:37and now it's it's hard for me to get the special whatever i've been looking forward to because you're only open on this day or or you're not available or somebody can't make it or whatever well we were finally able to open every day and yes i heard from
00:23:51a lot of my customers had to call certain reservations up and say we're going to be closed on tuesdays we just do not have the help to get through it to make sure we can handle you properly did they understand that they were open Did they understand why
00:24:04Yeah yeah yeah yes he did uh it was they also are very frustrated by the process when you talk to him about what i've done want one of things i told was i couldn't have written this book that's happening to me my wife of my businesses it's just
00:24:23been so blind we've never had difficulty finding help as my waiting crew which always comes back bartending my manager's ah by cooks we're only talking seven out of about twenty two and right now if i had three h two b's i'd be all set but instead we have
00:24:44to train to such a degree that we're cutting our menu back just so we can take care of our customers I also want to point to nancy gardella eight now this is an older study so people can can critique that as they will but the conservative think tank
00:25:01american enterprise institute did a twenty eleven study and found that for each age to be worker actually helped create four hundred and fifty four additional jobs on what they did was compare the number of age to be visas approved related to the employment rate in the particular areas
00:25:17around the country for us residents so here is an institute that you know a sensibly doesn't have a dog in the fight this is not an immigration issue as they as they viewed it as we've said ah and they saw it as a way to hire americans as
00:25:32peter has said is you have said but still the confusion exists nancy gardella congressman william keating has invited homeland security secretary kirsten nielsen to come to the cape to see what the policy is doing no response yet but i would that help ii i would imagine that would
00:25:55be eye opening for her i would certainly hope so I mean a boots on the ground experience to see what we're talking about in let's face it one of the most treasured areas in the united states for summer and fall vacations and this is an area with cash
00:26:15a global cachet to see the catastrophic impact that the's decisions have on this area I think that would be very eye opening I would certainly welcome the secretary Well congressman keating has asked for that because a cz you've both said he's very frustrated about the local business is
00:26:35being squeezed And to that point nancy gardella we have peter hall here on the phone i can't tell you how many people we talked to who didn't have a moment to talk because they are working twenty four seven these air managers are owners trying to keep their businesses
00:26:51going whatever they may be and they wanted to express their frustration and unhappiness about this but but couldn't because they didn't have enough staff to cover for them while they came to have this conversation So i'm appreciated peter but but my point to you nancy gardella is ah
00:27:07yu already have very small businesses how many of these will not be able to shift around as peter has done our hang on and you know overtime or re trainer all of that and they'll just go away What's what is your what's your estimate right now our concern
00:27:25about that impact Well kelly that that's a well stated version of one of our worst nightmares if this if this is going to be the long term position of the administration than we are in serious trouble if this is short term are small businesses are committed to offering
00:27:50the best that they can and they will make the changes necessary this year but i know that they simply won't have the stamina and quite frankly they won't have the ability to operate long without being able to plug those huge gaps And callie i so appreciate that you
00:28:15are taking an educational stance in this interview reminding your listeners that the's air jobs that americans have not taken have had every opportunity to take before employers turned to h two b visa holders and also lots of people have americans have appreciated and come to know the age
00:28:40to be workers who've come back as i've said about the donovans of the world every year So it's all of a piece and again these are you know the landscape workers the housekeepers and cooks the cleaners all of the jobs that a number of americans are not interested
00:28:58in but also in this case ah very short season as well So that's it's a combination I wonder if those of us who will be coming to these areas this year and find something missing that we've had in the past because of the impact of this h two
00:29:15b visas or the lack thereof off our responses to not william keating because he knows about it but people come from all over the world and the united states i think i want to make clear to the cape and the islands and they'll go back and either do
00:29:33wanted to things that it will not return next year because they couldn't get everything they want it which is the great fear for all of you or the and or we'll go back and say what's going on here and why can't i And in complaint teo maybe some
00:29:46of their representatives and perhaps some of this will change But i know nancy you are concerned that there has got to be a very quick fix to the misperception about a privilege you say that does not in fact exist exactly because kelly let's face it when we're on
00:30:02vacation we only care about what we want and enjoying ourselves and while i'm delighted to know that peter's customers were understanding when he called them and had to let them know that he had to be closed one night and i'm even more delighted that he's now open all
00:30:20the nights he wants to be You know the point is if people wanted if they can't get the reservations or they can't get the services or their rooms can't get cleaned and on and on and on that all those wonderful service workers all the tasks that they perform
00:30:38those can't get done in a timely manner people will choose other destinations they'll be understanding of why but at the end of the day they're not going to come back Peter last word even though i am open seven days were really battling to be ableto open the whole
00:30:55place up and make sure the product comes out on a timely basis It's really hard be able to train people in one week which is what we've been basically given with r j ones this year and our american kids who have finally a few of them showed up
00:31:11who were not expected back even though they were invited in the spring and all suddenly their parents said we're going to cape so they showed up to my door which is great Uh i'm very lucky and fortunate that i have such a good returning crew and another issue
00:31:29that has not been brought up is that and the h two b process were battling with the farms too and they all need help and they're part of the age to be processed that industries that we're in the lodging and landscaping and restaurants we're like i think fifteen
00:31:46percent of the whole age to be allotment so we're a very small amount that just seems like we're really getting picked on well um i wish you all luck and i hope that someone's listening and that this part of the misunderstanding can get corrected and somehow the h
00:32:07two b visa program well we'll be back in place and your restaurants and all the other businesses will be it will have the help that they need and this is more than the cape in the islands as we said this is really about massachusetts bottom line as well
00:32:21so i thank you both for joining me thank you Thank you so much for this opportunity Nancy gardel is the executive director of the martha's vineyard chamber of commerce and tourism peter hall is president and general manager of vanryn celia's restaurant and rob our and the general manager
00:32:37and president of catch of the day restaurant both and south wellfleet massachusetts coming up he plays the grumpy tech guy on hbo silicon valley the one with the heavy chinese accent and slacker vibe it was a breakout role for stand up comedian jimmy o yang who's chequered path
00:32:55to success it is great humorous fodder for his new book how to american and immigrant's guide to disappointing your parents it's our july selection for bookmarked the under the radar book club that's next this's under the radar with callie crossley time callie crossley i'm callie crossley and this's
00:33:42under the radar with callie crossley and now for the part of the show we call lasagna that's creole for something extra comedian jimmy o yang describes himself as a fresh off the boat immigrant till america he was thirteen when he came from hong kong barely speaking english but
00:33:59in the next years he found his way to the stage is stand up comedian and into a thriving tv and film career Three years ago he became an american citizen now he's chronicle his hilarious road to success and citizenship in his new memoir how to american and immigrant's
00:34:16guide to disappointing your it's it's our july selection for bookmarked the under the radar book club and jimmy o yang joins me on the phone from the marketplace studios in los angeles welcome to under the right are jimmy hello thanks for having me well i'm delighted to have
00:34:32you your book is awfully funny which i guess it should be since you're comedian expectation is high out here you know i'm glad i delivered why did you decide you want to write a book i want to take some time off a standup i know how to be
00:34:46funny on stage but standard there's such a format that you have to get a laugh every few seconds worst a book i can be a little more emotionally honest and funny at the same time Ah and i also just want to write of riel immigrant story that's not
00:35:01any political partisan no no agenda is just a real story about me so people can kind of see behind the curtains first person point of view of what it's like to be an immigrant in america so as i said you arrived in america as a thirteen year old
00:35:15i'd like people to get a sense of your voice in your memoir So why don't you read from your prologue Yeah prologue i love the word prologue it makes me sound like a real author this is great When my family immigrated to america from hong kong i was
00:35:30a thirteen year old boy who looked like an eight year old girl I didn't even speak enough english to understand the simplest american slaying On my first day of school in america a girl came up to me and said what's up i stared at her confused i never
00:35:46heard this term before she repeated what's up i looked up into the sky to check what isthe up there there wasn't anything up there i looked back down at her and replied i don't know she finally realized i was either foreign ah severely mentally handicapped so she explained
00:36:07what sub means how are you doing Okay why didn't you just say that i'm up thank you that someone in the distance screamed out heads up i turned to reply thinking there was another american greeting instead i was created by a weird job long object flying right at
00:36:26me and hit me straight in the gut i later learn that was an american football okay so now everybody's going to get it it's a memoir and memoir kind of has a heavy title to it like it's real serious and yours is serious in parts but you always
00:36:43have the comedic lynn's going on and telling your story and that was really truth there about that thirteen year old what's up exchange i laughed out loud at the beginning and kept laughing through the rest of it i have to say so more interesting stuff as revealed in
00:36:57your memoir you learn to speak english by watching black entertainment television's rap city talk about city tell us about that's my favorite show like i always thought in order to learn about a culture it's not just by the language it's about all the nuances and all the slings
00:37:16like what's up like i don't understand that and bt was the epitome of that so i thought if i could understand bt where's this rap city and comic view i could understand america you know And in a way bt was like the highest form of english it's very
00:37:32challenging and difficult always said like fifty cent was like the calculus of english so if i can understand fifty cent i can understand america and it's so much about the culture each music video was like a slice of the american dream that someone was living you know and
00:37:46i wanted to be part of that and comic view It wasn't just about jokes It wasn't just about the five minutes of stand up those on stage it's about cultural stereotypes that how one races each other and how one person sees the world in america So to me
00:37:59that was a huge learning experience watching bt so you're coming to the comic stage was really he kind of did a zigzag you know you came over you got the english down you learn from b e t you went to college and i bet a lot of people
00:38:16would be interested in your story about actually paying attention to your commencement speaker who ended up being your boss later please talk about that The incredible mike judge who created because a butthead and king of the hill at the time and office space turned out to be my
00:38:31commencement speaker i didn't think anybody cool had went to ucsd so it was surprising to have him there and he talked about how he was a physics major and he just didn't want to do that he was working in you know the tech world in the eighties and
00:38:46he just hated every part of it So he quit his job his safe job that everybody said he should be doing and he became a touring musician and eventually found his passion in animation and comedy and he created because a butthead and i was like oh my god
00:39:00that really spoke to me because i was an economics major not that i loved economics it was just the easiest major to still would've pleased my asian parents so when i was graduating i didn't know what i wanted to do i just kind of i knew that i
00:39:16wanted nothing to do with economics So after hearing mike judge's speech i was like oh my god this guy is just an average guy that graduated ucsd just like me and he didn't have any connections in hollywood and he made it so that really propelled me into really
00:39:31full time pursuing my stand up career which led to me becoming an actor later which eventually five years later led to an audition for a show cost silicon valley and i got the job and my boss and the creator of the show was mike judge i mean that
00:39:47is truly a full circle moment get out don't you He had no idea i was in that commencement speech it wasn't like nepotism or anything like that i wish it worked that way but i just audition i got the job in the first day at the table read
00:40:00that's when i told him i'm like hey mike you are my commencement speaker man and thank you for all that stuff and he just so humble and it's just so cool like were like pretty close friends and we just go get beers together now so i think a
00:40:12lot of people who are listening to this we're going oh i know who this guy is he's jin yang on silicon valley he's also the author of the memoir that we're talking about how to american and immigrant's guide too disappointing your parents so i want to play a
00:40:29clip from silicon valley for those who don't know your at this point best known role here is broken fridge thiss won this award thiss war this will get junior the refrigerator's broken the ice cream is melting let me guess is it because it's warm yes fine i'll call
00:40:51the repairman and he'll come here and fix it post haste no i want a new fridge a smarter fridge like this Fourteen thousand dollars for a smart fridge Unlike you i now work for a living I'm not gonna drop that kind of dough on a fridge i ordered
00:41:10already I buy it for myself And why you talking to me about to make you feel bad Because you are fat and poor You're a very popular character on silicon valley So your fans air now reacting to that going yeah Is that all you love I love it
00:41:30so much Because in a way it's like playing a version of myself when i first came to this country But i'm able to do very authentically because i understand that character and even the accent true for my past And i drew for my mom and my relatives back
00:41:43home and it's in a way you know he seems like the docile quiet immigrant but he so diabolical As you heard in this clip he's kind of an a hole and it's just so fun to play that and again for people are just making that for all circle
00:41:59connection Mike judge is the creator of silicon valley So there you are working for your commencement speaker so it does pay off to listen so your path to comedy jimmy o yang was not a smooth one is we've said and i have to say all the various legs
00:42:14of your journey are pretty funny One of my favorite stops was when you were a strip club deejay you know that's just not a stop that we hear about let's say from seinfeld all right Uh yeah don't talk about that Eso after i graduated college i quit this
00:42:36internship that might that set me up with smith barney a really prestigious like finance firm too much of his disappointment and i have three jobs i sold used cars during a day i worked at the comedy club in the evening and that i would go deejay at a
00:42:50strip club at night and this really seedy strip club called fantasy show girl in san diego Partly it was kind of fantasy to be a strip club deejay because growing up watching bt rap city watching like ludicrous music videos ludicrous tha wrapper not i'm not actually using an
00:43:06adjective lucrative new videos you know like being a strip club deejay that was like a dream for like a dump twenty two year old kids So i was like oh my god there's going to be amazing but i soon realized it turned out to be nothing like the
00:43:21glamorous life i'd imagine on like say like a big pimping music video and i realized people that work there they didn't have a choice but to work there because they have been to jail many of times and they all gang affiliated and now here i am this ucsd
00:43:34college graduate work in there but i was very good at my job According to the owner sales went up forty four percent Lap dance sales went up forty four percent the first week i was there so you know and then he eventually offered to open a strip club
00:43:48for me to run it for him which sounded like a dream and it was one of those crossroads i really had to think Do i really want to be like the underground strip club king Or so i try my hands a standup comedy another day if people are
00:44:02just tuning in this is under the radar with callie crossley and my guest is jimmy o yang he's author of how to american thie immigrant's guide to disappointing your parents it's our july selection for bookmarked the under the radar book club and i think a perfect book to
00:44:17read this july fourth holiday One of the things that you may clear in all through your book you and your dad and your mom have a loving relationship that you spent most of your young years growing up with your dad they weren't divorced It was just a complicated
00:44:31situation people will have to read about but any case your dad was very underwhelmed when he discovered that you were that's the sort i'm using you were going to go for a career in comedy and i want you to read from your book this passage about what was
00:44:46happening there so i starts on page twelve um a few years ago i mustered up the courage to invite my parents to my stand up comedy show It was a one of the nicest clubs i've ever performed in brad garrett's comedy club inside the mgm in las vegas
00:45:03When i was ten my family and i stayed at the mgm on the vacation from hong kong to vegas so surely my parents would know this was a legitimate five star establishment I sat them down at the best seat in the house and make sure all of their
00:45:18foods and drinks were taken care of There were the vips and i was the star of that night i had a killer said everyone in the audience was laughing head over heels I finally proved to my parents that all the time i spent doing talk shows at the
00:45:33comedy club wasn't in vain after the show My parents came out and saw the crowd of adoring fans surrounding me they waited in line with everyone and i made sure to take my time greeting each audience member so they could see just how loved i wass when they
00:45:50finally reached the front of the line my excited comedian friend jack went up to my dad and ask him so what do you think about your son He was great right No he's not funny but that flat lor replied i don't understand jack's face dropped as he awkwardly
00:46:09looked over to me but there were no tears on my face not even a hint of surprise most people would have been devastated at their parent's disapproval but that was the exact answer i expect it from my dad i knew he wasn't going to understand stand up and
00:46:24i knew he was too honest to lie about how he felt that's my guest jimmy o yang he's the author of how to american the immigrant's guide to disappointing your parents and it's our july selection for bookmarked the under the radar book club so you can hear right
00:46:40there how you were disappointing your parents nevertheless you continued and you've done quite well Aside from the role the regular role on silicon valley you've done some dramatic work in a role that a lot of people in my neck of the woods here in boston would recognise you
00:46:57start as danny in the film patriot's day with a local guy that we like around here mark wahlberg and tell us about that because that was really quite a turn for you it's big screen and you've got your dad in the film with you Oh the same daddy
00:47:14doesn't think very much of your con comedy the same dad who still wishes i'm a scientist that was that was the most rewarding thing i've done so far Patriot's day it's a based on real life story about the tragedy happen in two thousand thirteen about the boston marathon
00:47:30bombing So all our characters are based on real people and i had you know the luck and and the honor to really talk to danny manning the guy that ended up being part of the people that saved the day during that whole ordeal and he was just so
00:47:45great and i just want to do right by him I poured all my heart and i knew there's something that i cared about and it turned out they really rewarding as an experience and as an actor to that finally like hey You know i might not have went
00:47:57to drama school but i can't do this like this proved to myself and my parents like oh my god this is for real because asian people they might not understand standup comedy but they know who mark walberg us they know who kevin bacon is who were both in
00:48:11the film so when might that met kevin bacon at the premiere he was so happy he was bugging me to like oh my god that's mark over can we go take a picture Where can we go take a selfie I'm like that can i just have my moment
00:48:22please But you know he was happy and ah and like you said i got him i got him in the film you know My dad became an actor after i did because he was like oh my god it's so easy you can do it i can prov we
00:48:35do it so i'm like fine i'll sign you're my agent and you can see how hard it is and complete backfired on me because he started booking everything so now he's like oh my god it is so easy but this was his first big major motion picture and
00:48:50this role actually got him in sac so he he plays my dad in the movie and it just really nice to share such a meaningful film with my father who i guess eventually came around on being not disappointed at me anymore well for people who don't remember danny
00:49:09the rial life danny was carjacked by the car bombers and so you're playing him and you've got your dad in the film because the actor that he originally had hired to play your dad was speaking the wrong chinese dialect and you want to make sure that it was
00:49:23correct so that the portrayal of danny and his father would be right and i thought that was very important It reminds me of a conversation that we've had on this show quite a bit outside of our book discussions and that's about the really the movement in hollywood among
00:49:38asian american actors to not only get respect but better roles and to really speak up about some of the stereotyping that's being done there i wonder how you feel about that movement and do you feel you're a part of it Absolutely i just shot two somewhere we call
00:49:52crazy rich asians and that was so exciting literally is the first movie featuring a full asian cast in twenty five years since joy luck club first studio movie so it's very important and i really hope it does well and and i just had the greatest experience shooting it
00:50:09i became so proud like way more proud you know to be asian because you see the most beautiful most talented funniest asian people all in one room trying to make something great you know And we just felt a nice camaraderie it wasn't just like i'm the token asian
00:50:25guy on this show in this movie and me myself by myself have to represent all asians because there's only five of us in all of television you know that pressure was off i could just concentrate my craft and be an actor because there's a whole spectrum of asians
00:50:41in this movie and it was just so fun it was just such a great experience and in general you know my point of view might be a little different than say the american born asians because i was an immigrant myself So i take a lot more pride and
00:50:55playing kind of like the fresh off the boat immigrant characters on i try to play them authentically and it is offense because that was my experience so i always try to step up from like my immigrant brothers you know and a lot of times people maybe they have
00:51:11a beef with you know doing asian characters who the accents i always think it's how you do it do you do it authentically Are you just kind of doing like a ching chong chang Whatever you know cliche accent right And for me i always try to draw from
00:51:25authentic experiences you know and play a three dimensional character like somebody like danny manning who has a thick accent but he's based on real life and he turned out being a chinese immigrant he turned out to be an american hero in this very historic day in america and
00:51:41that's nothing that makes me more proud and danny is a fricking hero to me you know eso playing those characters really meaningful to me and at the end of the day i don't think it's the accent itself that's not sexy is to perception of the accent like why
00:51:55is it sofia vergara saxon is considered sexy you know french accents consider you know sophisticated or british accent eyes considered good craftsmanship by an actor but when it comes to chinese accent it's consider weird So i think we should look at that at that point of view of
00:52:14maybe doing mohr three dimensional sophisticated characters with accents instead of shying away from the accent altogether I think it makes a difference of what you said at the beginning is whether that you're the only one when there is a a wide spectrum and so i want to play
00:52:30a clip from crazy rich asians This is the movie trailer the movie's coming out later in the summer so your family's rich we're comfortable that is exactly what is super rich person with one point two nick you're dating is nick young You hells yeah there's just the biggest
00:52:51developers in all of us like asian bachelor people aren't just rich they're crazy You really should have told me that you like principal innovation That's really I love this clip I can't wait to see this movie and i can't wait to see you in it I think it's
00:53:09going to be great and it really it's it's funny and it's got some other things to say just like your book And i'm speaking with jimmy o yang the author of how to american the immigrant's guide to disappointing your parents because i want to just make sure that
00:53:22you have an opportunity to talk about to really speak to the sort of divisive discourse is going on now about immigrants in general I mean you got your citizenship three years ago you write movingly about it in your book How do you respond to that now Um it's
00:53:38it's kind of sad in a way for me to see how politicized the immigration issue is it's either one side the eye or the other that's One of the reasons why i never picked the side of my book I just want to telling on a story to inform
00:53:51people and let them see really what it's about and so they can come off their own opinion i'm not preaching anything out there you know i just want to share what it was like for me and sometimes looking back it was hard you know and when i see
00:54:06other immigrants even when i'm in a lift of uber ride like i get it i get the struggle and they appreciate it so much more because even if they're driving uber and making fifteen dollars an hour they might not have had that opportunity back home in china in
00:54:20nigeria or wherever and very grateful to just be in this land of opportunity So from me i have that same thing to like Every day i wake up here i'm blessed that i'm able to do what i love for you no money right like as a career so
00:54:35i just want people to kind of I appreciate the immigrant mentality and see it for what it is in a very honest and humorous way That's not too heavy right on dh come over their own mohr informed opinions because i think a lot of times people Are afraid
00:54:52or they think negatively of immigrants that people that didn't grow up the same way they did it's either fear or because they have never met somebody like that and they don't understand what it's like so i just want to share my honest story and hopefully it'll help give
00:55:07people a better perspective and if he's still think the way you do or you know if you still don't like immigrants after that or whatever i'm i'm not mad at you you know like that that's your prerogative it just i want to share my story and hopefully and
00:55:22doing so it will inform people what it's like to be an immigrant well it's a perfect july fourth story of course because as i said you've written quite movingly about your experience of getting your citizenship let me say this you're thirty years old jimmy o yang and you're
00:55:38writing a memoir that's what usually people right when they're way longer in there the career what you're on right after the things that mean this is you written a memoir now at thirty wow i hope this is the beginning i hope my career just don't crash and burn
00:55:54tomorrow well if it does i'll have a great memoir about drug rehab and stuff waken maybe threw that in the future but you know that's why i never called the book a memoir the title is kind of a joke in itself how to americans you know it's kind
00:56:07of like a self help book in a way but it's just sharing a story off the immigrant part of my life now part of me do is still very chinese and the other part of me feels very american so it's a different chapter of my life and now
00:56:20my life is mostly about navigating through ah the landscape of hollywood and the politics there and you know trying to just be a good artist whereas the standup writing or acting so it's a different chapter and i just really felt it was fun for me personally too And
00:56:36i hope the readers will have fun one reading it to hear a funny authentic story about when i was thirteen years old teo when i was in high school too when i was a strip club deejay well i had a lot of fun reading it I know other
00:56:49people will as well and i thank you so much for joining me thank you so much Jimmy o yangs new memoir however he describes it is how to america the immigrant's guide to disappointing your parents it's our july selection for bookmarked the under the radar book club the
00:57:05book is available in bookstores and online now and you can see jimmy on silicon valley hbo's siri's as well as life of the party with melissa mccarthy and the upcoming crazy rich asians well that's it for this edition of under the radar with callie crossley Join us next
00:57:22sunday at six p m for the stories you may have missed In the meantime you confined our show links to stories we discussed today and bonus content On the web At news dot wgbh dot org's slash you tr Listen to our show on the wgbh and take you
00:57:38tr with you Subscribe to our podcast on itunes Please write to us and under the radar at wgbh dot or our engineer is doug sugars Macondo loin cafe is our producer Under the radar is a production of w th

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