Is there room for two Yang Gangs?
Saturday Night Live kicked off its 45th season last night with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish, but we were cheering for Bowen Yang in his first episode as a featured player.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) September 29, 2019
The 28-year-old comedian is making SNL history as the first Chinese-American performer on the sketch comedy series, and he’s only the third openly gay male cast member after Terry Sweeney and John Milhiser.
Yang first appeared in the show’s cold open as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un opposite Alec Baldwin’s Trump. He later played Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang in a “DNC Town Hall” sketch that featured Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg, Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren, and Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris.
“If you think my candidacy is going well, I’m literally giving free money to people and I’m still in sixth place,” quipped Yang as Yang. Despite the dig, the comedian’s brief impression got the 2020 candidate’s vote on Twitter.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) September 29, 2019
The SNL newcomer also popped up in a Downton Abbey spoof and a sketch about apple picking. Not bad for a featured first-timer!
Yang joined SNL as a writer last season and made his on-air debut as Kim Jong-un in a sketch with host Sandra Oh. Co-host of the Las Culturistas podcast with Matt Rogers, Yang has also appeared in High Maintenance, Isn’t It Romantic, and The Outs.
While Yang has been touted as SNL’s first Asian cast member, The New York Times notes the Asian ancestry of former cast members Rob Schneider, Fred Armisen, and Nasim Pedrad.
Tonight my precious babe @bowenyang debuts on SNL and when I see him in the opening credits I will burst into tears immediately.
(He’s getting his ass ate on a hot dog cart in FiDi).
— Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) September 28, 2019
HIS NAME IS BOWEN!!!!!!! https://t.co/Iqhpp3pV2d
— Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) September 29, 2019
Yang’s promotion this summer was somewhat overshadowed by SNL hire Shane Gillis, who was ultimately fired for his past racist, homophobic, and sexist remarks. Gillis had referred to “faggot comics” and used the anti-Chinese slur “chinks” in a podcast.
See Yang in the sketches below.