(Note from the editor: This wasn’t supposed to be a speed date, but it sure felt like one. Dat Phan agreed to answer a few questions before tonight’s show at the San Jose Improv. If after reading his answers, if your heart desires, you can make a date with him at his return engagement Friday, February 1 at the San Jose Improv. From there, Dat moves on to Boulder, Co for a post-Valentine show February 15. You can see his entire tour schedule here.)
If you were me (and lucky you aren’t), what would you ask yourself and how would you answer it?
-I don’t know how to answer that question, because I’m not you. Sometimes I wish I was a journalist.
Your story is well known among your fans. You were one of ten children who immigrated from Vietnam. Your family went through some financial hardship. I understand you even lived in your car for a while while you pursued your comedy career. You were the first winner of Last Comic Standing in 2003. How did these experiences shape your comedy?
-They shaped my comedy and helped me become a professional headliner.
What makes you funny?
-The humor that lies within myself. I am very blessed with that.
It’s been more than ten years since you became champion of Last Comedy Standing. Looking back on that exciting night when you were declared champion, how much of what you expected to accomplish after that have you been able to accomplish? How would you rate your accomplishments in those years?
-I have three movies coming out this year, and I am currently filming a fourth. I’ve met over 11 million people. I would rate this as the best experience of my life.
How has your comedy changed and evolved during your career?
-I went from having 35-40 loose minutes. Now I have well over 1.5 hours of material that I can interchange depending on the audience.
It says on Wikipedia that much of your comedy focuses on self deprecation and racial stereotypes. How do you touch on those subjects without inadvertently reinforcing those stereotypes and even spreading them?
-You must have seen older material. Much of the material has changed over time. My goal is to unite people of all races and origin through laughter and joy. I speak from true life experiences, I don’t think that can reinforce a stereotype.
I’ve seen two of your shows. Once in San Diego and once in Lake Tahoe, NV. Your audience has been very diverse each time. How would you describe the support you’ve received from the Asian American community, and specifically the Vietnamese American community? Can this support and expectations become a burden?
-Support for comedy is and never will be a burden. The support from the majority has been positive, amazing, and overwhelming.
You list as your inspirations such people as Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Conan O’Brian and Robin Williams? Not a single Asian American comic is on the list. Why do you think more Asian Americans have not become comedians?
-Although our parents mean well, there is a lot of pressure for us to become professionals in the field of medicine or law. This is an old school view, but older Asians have more realist views than idealist.
-That is a two paragraph answer. To save time, you can watch the video on YouTube.
Where do you see your career going in the next five years?
-Hopefully upwards, LOL. I enjoy entertaining people around the world through many forms of media.
Is there anything we haven’t touched on that we haven’t mentioned?
www.DatPhan.com Upcoming movie releases and tour schedule are available on my website. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.