Davin Tong | the funny man behind Chao Nation
His mock-Asian accent and curse words would definitely offend your politically correct friends. But if you ask the 557,956 people who follow Davin Tong on YouTube, he’s a comedic genius. In his online (or, onrine, as his character would say) videos, Tong plays Peter Chao, a bad stereotype of a Chinese immigrant who, like “South Park,” isn’t afraid to make fun of everyone, especially himself and his Chinese-Canadian heritage. This charismatic 23-year-old (who doesn’t really have a thick accent) has already captured hundreds of thousands of viewers online–and he’s not stopping there. What’s next for him? Tackling the stage as a standup comedian, furthering the boundaries of his fan base, Chao Nation, and trying proving that he’s not really the “ass-hoar” some may think he is.
SCENE: The Vancouver Sun said you were “a breath of politically incorrect fresh air.” Is it OK to be politically incorrect once-and-a-while?
DT: It’s definitely important. My comedy is not meant to be offensive. Sometimes, you have to put yourself out there and just be courageous.
SCENE: How would you describe your comedy in one word?
DT: Outrageous, wild … actually, zany is probably the best word.
SCENE: Who is Peter Chao?
DT: Peter Chao is a zany Chinese immigrant forced into Canada by his prostitute mother. Instead of listening to his mother to go to school, he decided to pursue comedy on YouTube. The character has really evolved since then.
SCENE: If they were going to make a movie about your life, who would play you and why?
DT: I think the only person who could play me is me because it’s a creation of my brain. I’ve seen many imitations of me online. And, not to be arrogant, but it’s never as good as the real thing.
SCENE: I thought you were going to say Jackie Chan.
DT: Jackie is too old and he wouldn’t agree to having a prostitute mother.
SCENE: According to the Peter Chao Facebook page, many of your fans are very curious about your character’s sunglasses. Why do you never take them off? What brand are they?
DT: They are Wayfarers by Ray Ban and I have some Louis Vuitton ones as well, I like to switch it up. I wear sunglasses because they look cool. I look really good in them, and I wanted to maintain a little mystery.
SCENE: People frequently comment on how sexy Peter Chao is. Why do you think that is?
DT: These questions make me seem so full of myself. I do enjoy a quick glance in the mirror, I admit. I find myself looking better with sunglasses than without. I think the sunglasses add some sex appeal.
SCENE: What’s your guilty pleasure?
DT: I really like reality T.V., the show “Bridalplasty,” as well as “The Apprentice,” “Survivor” and I like watching wrestling.
SCENE: What’s Peter Chao’s guilty pleasure?
SCENE: How do you use Asian and other racial stereotypes in your comedy?
DT: When I was younger, I watched these Chinese commercials on TV. Even though they were in Chinese, sometimes they would incorporate English for no apparent reason, like they’d say “lumba one,” instead of “number one.” I took that Chinese and started turning my “l’s” to “r’s,” “n’s” to “l’s,” etc. I decided to incorporate every type of racial stereotype into my character, so I talk about car crashes, bad asian drivers, parents always owning restaurants, Honda Civics …
SCENE: Why is it important to be able to make fun or yourself?
DT: When I make a video, there’s so much negativity, sometimes 50 percent of feedback is negative. If you can make fun of yourself, you won’t be sensitive to that.
SCENE: What do other Chinese and Asian people say about your comedy?
DT: It depends on where they were brought up. Culturally, Chinese-Canadians understand that I’m making fun of our race. My grandma or my parents know what it is, but they don’t really understand it. They’re almost ashamed that this is the way I’ve chosen to make a career out of myself. Some of my mom’s coworkers asked her if she was a real prostitute.
SCENE: How often do people get mad at you?
DT: Nobody has ever gotten mad at me in real life. Everybody who comes up to me on the street is like, “I like your stuff. Sign my shirt.” It’s different with people online. It’s easy for them to just create a username and they find anyway to bash you, either out of jealousy or because its anonymous so they can say whatever they want about you.
SCENE: Do people get offended?
DT: If you’re not stupid, you won’t. Making fun of other races is always a bit controversial and gets a rise out of people.
SCENE: How have you used YouTube to become successful.
DT: I became successful on YouTube, but I’ve always wanted to try other forms of comedy as well. Standup was always a dream that I wanted to approach cautiously.
SCENE: How does your standup in front of an audience compare to what you do on YouTube?
DT: It’s a completely different ball-game. I had to practice 30 times before I felt comfortable doing standup. You don’t get to edit yourself in the same way. But the nice thing about standup is being able to hear the response. When people are laughing, you know when to take a pause, when to take a sip of water or when you need go into your next joke.
SCENE: You’re famous for making fun of Justin Bieber. What do you really think of him?
DT: Honestly, he’s just a kid. My character hates him. When you make a video and say you hate something that so many people love, it’s a way to draw attention to yourself. Of course, many people will defend him, too. Peter Chao hates him out of envy because he’s angry someone so young can be more successful than he is.
SCENE: Have you been to Bellevue or the Seattle area before?
DT: Yes, I always go to Seattle to watch wrestling and go to Target. It’s a very beautiful area.
SCENE: What’s on the horizon for you, Davin?
DT: Continuing my YouTube career. I also want to be very successful on the standup stage and see where my online and live careers can merge.
SCENE: What’s on the horizon for Peter?
DT: He’s just gonna continue offending people.
Check out Davin Tong’s website at: thechaonation.com