Comedian Ronny Chieng on why America needs an Asian president

Hosted by

Ronny Chieng. Credit: Marcus Russell Price/Netflix.

Malaysian-born comedian and actor Ronny Chieng (“The Daily Show,” “Crazy Rich Asians”) is out with a new Netflix special called “Asian Comedian Destroys America!” 

He tells Press Play that he wants to show Asian perspectives with nuance, dignity, and sophistication. 

In the special, he makes the case for why the U.S. should have an Asian president: “Man or woman, get that Asian president in the White House. We will fix this s*** in a week. I promise you. Give us a solid eight days, you will see results. Because we don’t care. We just want things to work. Imagine harnessing the power of Asian people in government?”

Well, entrepreneur Andrew Yang is running for president right now. “He seems [to be] a very pragmatic guy. He’s talking about the future a lot,” says Chieng. “Also, he can’t be worse than who’s currently in charge. So whoever you vote for is automatically an improvement, right? Might as well go for the Asian guy.” 

Chieng argues that his joke is about breaking the meek and submissive Asian stereotype. “I’m saying if we take over, we would be better than all of you at this,” he says. 

But why aren’t there more Asians in politics or running for office? Chieng explains, “If you’re a first generation immigrant … when we come to America, and we decide to stay because we like it, when we face institutional roadblocks, our instinct is to just work around it. So we’re not here to change the system. We’re here to thrive within the system. … The reason we’re here is because we appreciate this system more than whatever system we came from.” 

However, he notes that he’s read about how many first generation women immigrants have been running for -- and winning -- local political offices.

So why did Chieng come to America? He says he’s a storyteller, and storytelling here is the most cutting edge and contemporary. “I came here because all my comedy heroes came from here. The biggest platforms came from here. Name it, it came from here,” he says. 

Ronny Chieng on screens and consumerism in America: 

Ronny Chieng on state mottos:

--Written by Amy Ta, produced by Alex Tryggvadottir