RANDALL PARK IN SHORTS
Before he was Louis Huang on Fresh off the Boat or Kim Jong-un in The Interview, Randall Park was the undisputed king of comedy in Asian American cinema. In front of the camera or behind, nobody made funnier short films and webseries than the artist formerly known as CareMoose, Dr. Miracles, Dumb Professor, and Randruff. From his days as co-founder of the pioneering Asian American theater group LCC at UCLA, to his scene-stealing years as a mainstay on Channel 101, Randall not only laid the foundation for one of the most promising Asian American comic careers of the decade, but also turned out a corpus of irreverent shorts as cuddly, imaginative, and bizarre as any Asian American cinema has ever seen.
On the film festival circuit, we saw the full-blown comic wizardry that was only hinted at by Randall’s guest spots on The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm. His comedy pokes fun at male ineptitude by spiking it with generous portions of the absurd, but never betraying the heart of what makes his characters so enduring: their genuine and unshakeable pursuits of romantic and family love. Randall’s bemused earnestness is fortified by jovial home-spun hijinks seemingly improvised out of a basement; badly-taped mustaches, Halloween-store severed arms, even Randall’s own baby make appearances and assure audiences that behind the bawdry juvenilia is an everyman just trying to concoct a decent living.
Let’s face it. We may never see the likes of another run like Randall’s. A corporatizing new media landscape has evolved beyond lo-fi, devil-may-care pranksters such as Randall and his band of merry men, including regular co-stars Johnny Skourtis, Charles Kim, and Eric Winzenreid. Series like Fresh off the Boat and Master of None have shown that the ceiling for Asian American comedy is way higher than the cult following of Channel 101.
And so this calls for a retrospective. Randall Park may not have directed a single feature film, but Asian American cinema has no time for such technicalities. His work from 2003, when he burst onto the scene in a Chinaman hat in Dragon of Love, to 2011, just before he became Danny Chung on Veep, is legion by any measure. So let’s join Randall on a walk down a memory lane lined with conjoined twins, crime-fighting babies, stir-fried cocaine, and condemning glares from wife and co-star Jae Suh Park. –Brian Hu
Co-presented by: Convoy District