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Asian Americans in DixieRace and Migration in the South$
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Jigna Desai and Khyati Y. Joshi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037832

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037832.001.0001

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“A Tennessean in an Unlikely Package”

“A Tennessean in an Unlikely Package”

The Stand-Up Comedy of Henry Cho

(p.245) Chapter 9 “A Tennessean in an Unlikely Package”
Asian Americans in Dixie

Jasmine Kar Tang

University of Illinois Press

This chapter looks at the comedy and figure of Southern and Asian American entertainer Henry Cho. Cho's representation of his racial subjectivity reveals how he carefully manages others' expectations of him. The use of humor by a racialized subject in performance can mitigate discomfort about racial difference among mainstream white audiences. Thus, the stand-up comedy of Henry Cho presents an especially rich site of study when one considers how accents and jokes operate as markers and articulations of belonging. Moreover, Cho's comedy attest to the challenges in pulling away from the “pernicious either/or habit common in the formation of imagined communities” especially in constructions of the South, as they push for ways “to talk about region without talking about essential identities or ‘heritage.’”

Keywords:   Henry Cho, racial subjectivity, racial difference, stand-up comedy, belonging, imagined communities, heritage

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