Bowen Yang is one of two fresh faces joining Saturday Night Live‘s cast this season, becoming the show’s first Chinese-American cast member and one of the few East Asians to have appeared on the iconic sketch series.
Although he’s new to the cast, Yang was a writer on SNL last season so you might have already seen his work. And if you’re a comedy or pop-culture nerd, his hilarious lip-syncs or Las Culturistas podcast may be familiar as well.
Yang will join Chloe Fineman as the show’s newest featured players when SNL‘s 45th season debuts on Saturday. (A third new cast member, Shane Gillis, was fired over racist and homophobic slurs before starting work on the show.)
Here’s everything you need to know about Yang, and his must-see sketches and videos.
In his short time as a writer on SNL, Yang has already been behind some of the funniest and out-there sketches on the show. Highlights include “GP Yass” (doesn’t everyone want drag performers to help them navigate the roads?), “Cheques” featuring Sandra Oh, and “The Actress” with Emma Stone. The last two, co-written with Julio Torres, showcase Yang’s strength of taking something as mundane as writing checks or as vapid as porno acting — and giving it as much drama, tension, and exquisite backstory as possible.
Yang even popped up onscreen in a sketch, appearing as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in a bit during Oh’s episode. He wasn’t given much to do, and his appearance was more or less a reminder that SNL really lacked Asian cast members, but his over-the-top facial movements and gung-ho performance definitely sold the character. Fun fact: Yang’s speaking actual Korean in the sketch.
Yang performed stand-up on 2 Dope Queens, and has had memorable appearances on Shrill, Broad City, and High Maintenance.
Pop culture is at the core of Yang’s comedy. Last year he captured Twitter’s attention with his spot-on lip-syncs of unforgettable moments from TV and film, from Tyra Banks’ infamous tirade on America’s Next Top Model to Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly schooling Anne Hathaway’s Andy in The Devil Wears Prada.
Yang also hosts the Las Culturistas podcast with fellow comedian Matt Rogers, in which the two best friends dissect a dizzying array of topics each episode. RuPaul’s Drag Race? Duh! Personal grievances against the ice-cream industry? Why not? The pod frequently features fellow comedians, as well as actors like Betty Gilpin, Michael Urie, and Rachel Bloom.
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