The Edmonton Journal, Monday, August 17, 1998
One-man show rightly honoured
Five Stars Out of Five
It can be an electrifying combination, polish and an open heart, when encountered on stage.
This absolutely riveting one-man show by San Francisco's Byron Yee boasts plenty of both and the result is a wonderfully moving experience, leavened by laughter.
Anyone who ever felt ambivalence about their father, anyone who ever winced at the ethnic caricatures of daily life, anyone who appreciates a great story well told -- all should join the queue for this show. That being just about everyone out there better find this 36 year old actor / comedian a bigger venue. A packed Yardbird Suite may not be big enough to accommodate this much talent.
Yee is a second-generation Chinese-American who grew up in Oklahoma. As one of a handful of Asian American comedians working today, that sort of background must have seemed pretty ripe comic material a couple of years back.
Yee's father came to America from China in 1938 and died 25 years ago this month. Yee knew his dad for 11 years but came to the realization, somewhere along the line to a standup comedy routine, that he hadn't really known him at all.
The result is this affecting autobiographical mix of laughter and poignancy that recounts Yee's quest to acquaint himself with a heritage he'd studiously ignored into adulthood.
The show I attended prompted loud and unreserved ovations, pretty much the same response this production has received since its premiere at the Victoria Fringe Festival last fall and at San Francisco, where it won best of the '97 Fringe honours.
-- Richard Helm