Jimmy O. Yang Has Beef With Mrs. Maisel in ‘Guess How Much’
If you only know Jimmy O. Yang from his bewildered character on HBO’s Silicon Valley, the unassuming, bespectacled housemate who makes T.J. Miller’s life miserable (big props for that), you’re likely in for a surprise when you check out his comic chill in Guess How Much? His new Amazon Prime comedy special is a slow-burn laugher that dissects “love languages, loser friends, and negotiating with Asian parents.”
Yang’s cool, laid-back delivery sells jokes with ease, even extended bits about the pandemic. (Is anything aging worse than COVID jokes?) At least he takes the facemask jokes into new territory, like the props he gives the old Asian lady in Chinatown who’s been wearing a mask since 1995. “She’s not random, she’s a fucking trailblazer!” he says, noting that everyone followed her fashion lead. “She’s the Kendall Jenner of Chinatown.”
Yang, whose family emigrated from Hong Kong when he was 13, looks at life through the glasses of a guy trying to make it in Hollywood against the wishes of his Chinese parents. That immigrant experience colors everything, from choosing a Halloween costume to keeping his parents off Instagram to understanding his girlfriend’s questions about “love languages.” Those cultural differences extend to the ways different people gloat about their finances. “White people never brag about how much money they got,” he jokes. Instead, they just complain about how expensive their life is. “Our remodel is totally going over budget!”
Black people are a lot more straightforward, Yang says. “This car? 80 thou.”
That’s the exact opposite of his mother’s approach, whose style of money-bragging revolves around how much she didn’t pay. Her catchphrase? “Guess how much?” Yang’s strategy is to always guess way too high. Did mom’s new watch cost … $5,000? “Noooooo,” she says, triumphant. “It’s $200!”
One of Yang’s best bits is a story about his days on Silicon Valley, a show that received five consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. He showed up for all of the awards shows, although the Silicon Valley crew’s seats near the exit signs were a pretty good clue the show wasn’t in for trophies that night.
After another year of losing, Yang did a post-show walk to the front row to say hi to his favorite actors from shows like Game of Thrones and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He loves Rachel Brosnahan, even did a movie with her a few years back, so he ran up for a hello. “It’s great to see you! Congratulations on everything!”
Why the weird response? She probably forgot who I was, Yang reasoned, so he tried again. He reminded her of their movie, Patriots Day. “You were awesome in that movie!”
“And she was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’”
Oh, really? Yang has to put it to the audience: Is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel a bitch? Didn’t matter, he said, he was going to rise above and be polite, congratulating her one last time on all of the Mrs. Maisel nominations.
“Ah,” she said. “I’m not Rachel Brosnihan. I’m Evan Rachel Wood from Westworld.”
“Holy shit,” realized Yang. “I think all white people look alike.”
Guess How Much? never comes to a full boil, content to sell its easygoing stories in exchange for a steady hum of laughs. If you’re looking for Kevin Hart-style fireworks, Yang isn’t the comedian for you. But like a cold beer with a buddy, Guess How Much? is a good hang.