David So: The Comic With an Agenda
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Everyone needs a little humor to get through the day.
By Robin Ngai
You know Kim Jong Illah, right? The supreme dictator of North Korea who has rap dreams and is deathly afraid of his wife? Such a charmer. And of course on other days, the man behind Illah impersonates his parents, who work as small business owners of a Black beauty-supply store.
Both characters are the creation of comedian David So. At first glance, he looks like just another funny guy making jokes about his heritage, but So has more than impressions up his sleeve. I first discovered him on YouTube in 2011 after the Alexandra Wallace incident. Wallace is the UCLA student who lashed out at minorities attending the school, and So is the comedian who made a rant video about it. His piece intersperses clips of her rant with his own, um, commentary. In response to Wallace’s comment that Asian people don’t “teach their kids to fend for themselves,” So quips, “Your car could break down in the middle of a road … We could take it apart and make it into an airplane.” That video alone has more than 5.6 million views.
So produces a rant video every week or two about different pop culture or breaking-news topics. His famous catchphrase blasts through your headphones as he screams, “LGI, Son, Let’s Get It, Let’s Go!” He eases his way into rants with jokes, and ends with them too. Throughout all his work, there’s a serious undercurrent. He calls out the racial discrimination he sees, or the wrongs done by criminals, and says what he thinks needs to be changed. He’s kind of a comedic vigilante. So also connects to his audiences by sharing his values through his comedy. He doesn’t shy away from discussing his feelings and his goals, which include being successful in order to support his parents. (So did not reply to our requests for an interview.)
The American-born Korean grew up in Sacramento and started focusing on his comedy career while he was attending college. YouTube became a way for him to share his material, and soon enough he was growing an audience that appreciated his humor. Not only does YouTube give him a platform for comedy, but it also lets him showcase his talents as a singer. Four years since his popular Alexandra Wallace rant, he’s still going strong with weekly videos, touring the country doing standup performances and starting his own clothing line. Good news for him, those parents of his, and us.
- Robin Ngai, OZY AuthorContact Robin Ngai