Charlamagne & Alan Yang Ch1: Writers Room Diversity & Working on 'Parks & Rec' | Emerging Hollywood



Hollywood is being rebuilt by artists not afraid to disrupt the status quo telling fresh stories and bring it to life characters who until now have been confined to the margins this is emerging Hollywood today we're meeting up with Alan yang the Emmy award-winning co-created and director of master of none and forever Alec creates shows starring three dimensional characters from diverse backgrounds who reflect the new state of entertainment alan yang what's happening my brother sup man you good I'm great I feel like I've met you before what is happening with the disease a long time ago we met over at the Greenwich Hotel this was five years ago man yeah clearly you didn't find me interesting you know there's still time we might do another season true now you picked this bar because you filmed too for a scene of masterplan right yeah it was a while ago I thought it brought back some good memories it was a scene late in season two was a scene with disease and Eric Wareheim and as you can see here the ceilings are really low and Eric is 6 foot 7 so he had to fold himself into to sit where you are right now that was taken about comedy that drew you towards it like was it I don't know what defense mechanism growing up like what was yeah you would think so but not so much man you know I felt like I got pretty lucky you know growing up I was one of only Asian kids in my school but I managed to get by it wasn't I wasn't really getting picked on so it was more like a way for me to Bob my friends and we would just make jokes all the time we'd watch all these comedy shows and it was just part of who I was today always thought she was funny I always thought I was kind of funny and I never thought this was a job you know like where I grew up no one wanted this business like my parents are immigrants you know my dad's a doctor my mom's a high school teacher and this was not an option what he proud of you I would he disappointed when you decided yeah they're pretty proud now okay but you know at the time it was you know how to explain to them I was a biology I was a biology major in college and so that seems like you have a very bright future and then you graduate and you tell your mom dad you want to go write jokes or write scripts in Hollywood and be broke well how did you end up in Hollywood yeah how does a biology major from Harvard end up in Hollywood yeah man I mean like so so when I got to school I felt a little bit out of place a couple things saved me I started playing at a punk rock man and I started writing for this comedy magazine called the Lampoon getting on the staff of that magazine you're thrown into this fire and there's all these people there they're funnier than you and the only thing I can liken it to is the first day in a writers room so when you move out to LA you get into a writers room there's 20 people looking at you some of them who may have run your favorite shows I remember working with Mike Scully and Parks and Recreation who ran the Simpsons when I was a kid so it's like he's like he's sitting next to you he's pitching jokes a lot of yeah your jokes gonna beat his you know so what that magazine helps you do is become a little bit more comfortable because in the beginning you should maybe not speak up as much you should learn how to be a little funnier before you say stuff and then you start learning you get better you get better you get better you get funnier you get funnier by hanging out with funny people yeah so when I graduate it sort of gave me a little bit of confidence I needed to move out to LA and just give it a shot you know who's the first character that you saw on TV or in film that you saw yourself in oh man probably Jerry Seinfeld it's like because I was obsessed with comedy I was 12 or 13 or whatever but you know I bought Jerry Seinfeld's book Larry David the same thing or it's like these guys just have an interesting view on the world yeah and you know I think the expected answer is like oh I saw like an Asian character but look there's a lot more to us than what we look like you know it's like what's your point of view what shapes your sense of humor and so that was really early on in the show and I think you later when we did master of not a lot of people are comparing it to other shows or these or tourist shows or films like well people don't talk about is like we watched a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm and that's like some of the show was funny because we're inspired by those guys you know we love Larry you love you know sine fellows guys and and that's kind of a secret thing that in the show like people only talk about as much useful for south walk – right I did yeah I was crazy and the costume dailies late night show that was my first job when I was 21 22 here yeah in Parks and Rec yeah so how diverse would a writing room do uh it's a good question so I will say four Parks and Rec I think Mike Schur who is the boss over there did did a great job he always wanted to be 50% women because the show had a female lead Amy Poehler and you know we were just starting back then you know I feel like South Park was a writing staff like two or three people so it's nice I don't know how much diversity there was I was diversity probably that year but uh you know I think that was like the pre that age it was like we weren't even thinking about it and that's a real deficiency I mean I think there's by the way there's still writers rooms out there that are super homogeneous super homogenized and it's just kind of a kind of a secret you know it's like there's still rooms out there so what you're missing out on is these other perspectives not that this happens that often but let's say an issue about an Asian character or something like that comes up and you're the only Asian person who ever would just looks at you like all right speak for all Asian people right now yeah it's tough cuz you don't you know you don't speak for everybody and you're just gonna do the best you can with it yeah that's that's unavoidable in some ways but you know it's we should do the best we can to avoid it more episodes of emerging Hollywood subscribe to The Hollywood Reporter on YouTube

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