Part stand-up, part-theatre, part live-to-internet cooking show; Ama and Chan is a witty and savvy look at love, fusion-cuisine and an unplanned flatmate. Ama is a Ghanaian woman who likes Chinese food… a little bit. Chan is her Chinese husband who isn’t afraid of wigs, curves or FuFu… much.
They’re social networking celebrity chefs. Their recipes for Asian-African fusion cuisine have gone viral. The traffic on their Facebook pages often causes a worldwide meltdown. After a mighty wedding and slew of In-Law bickering they’ve finally rented a place of their own. But where is their furniture? Where is the Pork Neck and who is the guy in the spare room?
In this less-than-fabulous situation, they conjure up a plan to buy their dream house. But first they have to get rich. And even more famous. They get a camera, fusion recipes to die for and let YouTube do the rest. Ama and Chan invite you to the filming of their soon-to-be-popular Reality Cooking Show.
|Image credit (Click to enlarge, transcript below)|
Fusion cuisine and interracial marriage create the recipe for hilarity in Cabramatta West resident Alan Lao’s new theatre project, Ama and Chan. The play combines stand-up comedy, live cooking demonstrations and a hint of political incorrectness to deliver the unlikely union of the headstrong Ama and the easygoing Chan. Co-writers Lao and Effie Nkrumah star as the food-loving newlyweds who develop a new taste sensation, an African-Asian fusion called Laksa Fu Fu.The show looks like it is going to be fun to see, mostly due to the food. I mean, I am really curious about African-Asian fusion food. I am also open to watching productions that deal with Blasian relationships involving African women. But, and this is a huge BUT, I am not entirely comfortable with the way both Ama and Chan are written. They are basically stereotypes and it doesn't matter that they were written by POCs who presumably have their reasons for creating the characters the way they are.
“It’s about Ama, a Ghanaian woman and Chan, a Chinese-Australian man, and they both connect through food, so it basically follows them try to put this cooking show and become celebrities,” Lao, 25, said. “The couple argues a lot and people ask why they are together, and it’s through their love of food.” Lao developed the character of Chan shortly after graduating from St Johns Park High School in 2003. Nkrumah had also created Ama when the two met while studying performance at the University of Western Sydney.
“Our characters collided by accident and I thought it would be funny if they were married.” Lao said.
“We did a lot of research for the play and I asked my grandparents and family how they would react if I react if I married an African. It was an eye-opener.” While Lao has a string of theatre credits to his name, including the 2009 Cracker Box Comedy Hit Idiot Box, Ama and Chan is the first show where he actually cooks on stage.
“Laksa Fu Fu is like a Ghanaian dish, kind of a really thick mashed potato – it’s hard to explain but the audience can really smell it,” he said.
For this post, I went searching for more information on both Ama and Chan. I found individual Facebook pages (for Ama Serwa Boateng, Chan Wai Chung and both of them as a couple) and videos, as both characters are presented as 'real life' people even though they can be read as exaggerations. From reading interviews with both actors and reviews of the show, it became clear that some viewers questioned themselves for laughing at what were stereotypical jokes that they wouldn't laugh at elsewhere. Alan Lao and Effie Nkrumah admit that their work draws from stereotypes of Asians and Africans but they both say it comes from a place of understanding.
Regardless, this video, "Chan's Vlog for Ama", does come across as offensive even though it is supposed to be funny. Elsewhere, someone pointed out that it adds to the stereotype of the unattractive Asian man. There is a response video on the couple's Facebook page, you have to be on Facebook to see it.
jollof rice with duck. Yet, I am not happy that all that goodness is presented through two stereotypical characters. What do you think?