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Virtual comedy show featuring Margaret Cho to support Asian American bookstore struggling during the pandemic

By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent

Margaret Cho will headline a virtual comedy show Friday to support an independent bookstore struggling for survival amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The show will be emceed by comic Irene Tu and will also feature Jenny Yang, Andrew Orolfo, Joel Kim Booster and Sherry Cola. All the comics are donating their time and all proceeds will go towards supporting Eastwind Books in Berkeley.

The store is one of the few bookstores in the country which sells a wide variety of Asian American and ethnic books.

Eastwind, like so many other businesses, has been closed for nearly three months since the pandemic.

“It was absolutely necessary to protect the health and safety of our community, staff and customers,” Bea of Eastwind Books said to AsAmNews. “People come first, but we also lost 80% of our book sales.”

The Standup for Books event has been an annual comedy showcase to support the bookstore and began while the 20-something Tu worked at Eastwind after graduating college.

“I noticed that small businesses were struggling during the quarantine and since I now had a lot of free time, I wanted to help out,” said Tu to AsAmNews. “I’ve been doing a lot of Zoom stand up shows in quarantine, so I figured we could do a virtual Stand Up for Books show.”

The lesbian comic says viewers can expect a traditional stand up comedy show except that you can be doing your laundry while enjoying a few good laughs.

“It’s hard for me to describe my own comedy except that I’m always slightly annoyed by something,” she said. “That’s where my comedy comes from. I talk about my personal experiences and what I think is funny. Sometimes that means my experiences being a gay person or a woman or none of those things at all. It just depends on what currently inspires me and makes me laugh.”

The Stand Up comedy shows have been a  joint effort by a dedicated Eastwind staff and the Bay Area Asian American comedy community to help Eastwind Books raise money to pay for the high  Berkeley Downtown storefront rent which threatens its ability to remain open.

“It’s been with the support of our customers buying books from Eastwind’s website and the generosity of donors through the Stand Up Comedy Show,  the Berkeley Relief Fund and American Booksellers Association and others, that is keeping Eastwind Books of Berkeley in the struggle. We have been continuing our community book events online.  We are so grateful to everyone,  coming together in unprecedented ways to ensure  literature and culture  prevail through our common hardships and crisis.  It fills our hearts with love for the people, who care for others well being in a time of their own personal danger,” said Bea.

The show starts Friday, May 22 and 7pm Pacific/10 Eastern. You can purchase your tickets here. If you can’t support the show, but would like to purchase a few books to pass your time during the pandemic, you can go here.

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our  Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story. 

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