In dreaming of hosting his own reality TV show, Jamin Lin (林家民) is fairly typical of today’s young generation. In dreaming of being a large black woman, he is highly atypical, at least for small Asian men.
A second-year student of foreign languages and literatures at National Taiwan University, Lin spends much of his spare time pursuing the more realistic of his ambitions: performing stand-up comedy in Taipei during the school year, flying to New York on his vacations to “bark” tickets on Times Square for open-mic shows and firing off a stream of e-mails to the producers of America’s Got Talent to let him on their program.
“They claim my material is too dirty,” Lin says. They’re probably right: His material is definitely not aimed at families.
“I know what you’re thinking,” he starts each show. “You think I’m called Jamin because I like jammin’,” Lin thrusts his hips back and forth. “But I am offended by that. I much prefer being jammed.” He turns his back to the audience and bends over. This could be tasteless, but Lin manages to charm most audiences. That is, after all, the essence of comedy: finding each audience’s line, and sometimes crossing it.
The rest of his set is spent acting out a series of gay characters — “I do bimbo, sneaky, goofy, and low-culture” — and recounting his sexual encounters with Taiwanese, African Americans, Latinos and Jews. Lin admits that “around 70 percent of my material is imaginary, and the rest is exaggerated for comic effect.” There is also, of course, his one heterosexual character, the large black woman.
“My first hero was [black US talk-show host] Wendy Williams, but my dad was more worried about me betraying my race than about my being gay, so I liked [Korean-American comedian] Margaret Cho too.” Further inspiration during his teenage years came from Everybody Hates Chris narrated by Chris Rock.
“Foreigners get me more than Taiwanese audiences,” Lin says of why he performs in English rather than Mandarin. “Also, for me, stand-up comedy is an English thing.”
Lin describes himself as “the only Gaysian stand-up comic,” but doesn’t see the need to be a social activist, either as a gay man or an Asian. “Taiwan is pretty liberated about homosexuality already. In some ways it can still be conservative, but we don’t have the aggressive anti-gay element that exists America.” Nevertheless, being a professional comedian in the US is Lin’s goal after graduation.
Jamin Lin’s next show is 10pm on Wednesday at 1001 Nights Taipei (一千零一夜水煙館), 2F, 8, Nanjing E Rd Sec 5, Taipei City (台北市松山區南京東路5段8號2樓).