Yumi Nagashima is Flipping the Script on Stereotypes in Search of the Ultimate Punchline

Wednesday 06th, March 2019 / 10:48
By Lauren Donnelly

When: March 7-9, 2019
Where: The Comedy Mix | www.thecomedymix.com

As anyone who’s ever told a joke and been disappointed in the reaction can attest, comedy is subjective. A true comedian is skilled in the art of combining the expected with the unexpected, and the familiar with the unfamiliar. Yumi Nagashima is a master at understanding that balance. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Nagashima has been living in Vancouver for eight years. Over the course of the last three years, she’s been making a name for herself in the Canadian stand up comedy scene. She expertly plays up stereotypes only to completely subvert them with a single deadpan punchline. Judging by the reception so far, Nagashima’s hilarious takes are a welcome addition to the comedy scene. In the midst of a tour to promote the release of her comedy album debut, BeatRoute caught up with Nagashima to talk comedy.

How did you get your start in comedy?
Steve Allen, the owner of the Kino Cafe on Cambie, suggested I try a three-minute set there as he had never seen a Japanese female comedian before. Two weeks later, on October 20, 2015, I did my very first set there.

What was it about stand-up comedy that drew you to it?

Comedy feels like freedom of speech to me. That’s what appealed to me.

You’ve appeared in TV commercials and magazines in Japan. What made you decide to make the move to Vancouver?

My ex-boyfriend was from Vancouver. I met him hin Japan and he asked me to move to Vancouver so I did. We broke up though!

What’s the funniest thing about Vancouver? 

Vancouver can’t have enough rain.

Has it been challenging breaking into the Vancouver comedy scene?
It actually hasn’t! I must say that the comedy scene here has been very supportive.

Are there major differences between Japanese humour and Canadian humour?
Japanese humour is more physical and juvenile compared to Canadian humour. Vancouver is very politically correct.
You’ve said in other interviews that it’s one of your dreams to be an SNL cast-member. Who is your favourite SNL comedian of all time?
Adam Sandler

You’ve said that you want your comedy to empower women, especially other Asian women. How does that affect how you put your act together?

I try not to have too many self-deprecating jokes. I don’t want to bring down other women with me. I try to have a balance. I feel like there are more women in the scene now though and that’s very exciting!

Where do you find new material for your act?

Usually in the shower.

How do you deal with political correctness in your comedy?
I’ve learned not to start your set with offensive jokes.

What’s next for you in your comedy/film/TV career?
My comedy album, My name is Yumi, just came out and then next I am doing Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Yumi Nagashima’s debut comedy album, My Name is Yumi, is now available online. http://smarturl.it/mynameisyumi