“Leland Cheuk has a reputation for being funny. Damn funny. So it’s no surprise perhaps that his new darkly comedic novel, No Good Very Bad Asian, takes an immersive leap into the life of a stand-up comic during the early 2000s. A Brooklyn literary darling and the founder of indie press 7.13 Books, Cheuk juggles writing with championing the voices of writers who might have otherwise been overlooked by the literary spotlight. With several books out in the past few years, including The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong and Letters from Dinosaurs, it can be hard to pin him down.
I first met Leland at a reading at LOST LIT in Brooklyn, where he advised the audience to be “good literary citizens.” By this he meant: Don’t just self-promote but also help other writers out, buy local authors’ books, read, write book reviews, and support one another. These words of wisdom helped me embrace and become a larger player in my local literary community, and they continue to remind me that when we support the creation of literature, everyone wins.
I recently spoke with Cheuk about his experiences performing as a stand-up comic, Asian stereotypes and brutal parenting styles, and how the #MeToo movement has impacted the comedy world.
The Rumpus: I was really interested in the stand-up comedy aspect of the book, and knew that you had once briefly done stand-up. Then I read your Lit Hub essay and wanted to know: Did you only get involved in doing stand-up as research for your book? Did you ever entertain any ideas of trying to be a comic?”