Just in time for Filipino-American History Month: Filipino AF, a comedy show battling underrepresentation

Photo by Rebecca Aranda

In a year where films like “Ghost in the Shell” and “Death Note” have sparked controversy around representation of Asian Americans in media, the all-Filipino variety show “Filipino AF” is bringing together comedians in an effort to combat underrepresentation.

Even though underrepresentation of minorities has been present in popular media for decades, it was not until the past two or three years that it exploded into debate. This recent outcry comes at an interesting time when Asian immigrants are the fastest growing number of any ethnic or racial group in the United States.

As the number of Asian-Americans grow, it makes sense that the call for representation would only increase. Especially in the Filipino-American population, which represents the second largest ethnic group within the Asian-American population.

“Filipino AF” is produced by three talented comedians: Joy Regullano, Erich Rheinhart Tamola and Allyn Pintal; all of whom have first-hand experience with the negative effects of underrepresentation.

Regullano, a graduate from UC Berkeley with degrees in Filipino studies and theater, explains how she first realized the need for comedy that tackles this issue:

“When I posted my first video, I got like a million views so it showed me that there is a need for this. People were like please make more, please make more.”

The video titled “White Fetish” takes the idea of “yellow fever” or the fetishization of Asian men and women and flips the script. Originally posted in September 2014, it currently has over 1 million views on YouTube.

The video itself does not focus directly on the issue of underrepresentation. However, the response online showed Regullano the positive impact that Asian-Americans can have through media.

With this surge of Asian-American entertainers gaining popularity online, it is easy to see why there has been a push for representation in traditional media. Allyn Pintal, one of the producers of “Filipino AF,” reflects on the dialogue surrounding underrepresentation:

“[Growing up] I don’t think I thought about it — like oh wait there’s no Filipinos anywhere. You kind of just grow up watching TV and see [white Americans] as the norm.”

While “Filipino AF” (or As F**k) is the first show of its name, it is in fact a spin-off of a pre-existing project, “Asian AF”; which Will Choi, founder of “Asian AF” said was inspired by the controversy surrounding “Ghost in the Shell”.

The Asian AF show performs twice a month out of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB) theaters in both Los Angeles and New York City.

So far, “Filipino AF” has booked a mash-up all-Filipino-improv team that features several veterans of UCB, as well as comedian Kevin Camia. They are currently in the process of securing a few more improv acts, including some “musical and dancical acts” said Regullano. The team even hinted at the potential of a film screening and maybe some other treats. The full line-up has not yet been announced.

Filipino AF opens on October 13 at the UCB Sunset Inner Sanctum at 5419 W. Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, California. The event is free and open to the public, but you will want to get there early as seating is first-come, first-served. For additional information on the event and other “Asian AF” performances check out the Facebook event page, twitter, instagram and website.