Part two of an epic conversation between Ashok Kondabolu of Das Racist and Comedy Central comedian Sheng Wang.
July 19, 2012
Part I of this interview, Ashok and Sheng Take Cover, is available here. To start off Part II, Ashok queries Sheng about a topic of high import.
So you smoke marijuana. I remember when you did Minority Fest in 2009, you made some jokes about weed. Coming from California, did you have a medicinal weed card?
No, I actually got one after I moved out here. Because last year I had this horrible accident. I was mountain biking on this hill that was super steep. I flipped over the handle bars, broke my collar bone in half…
Oh! Get the fuck out of here.
It was a horrible, horrible experience. I thought it was the end of my financial security. I would lose all I ever had. No insurance. So it ended up OK because apparently with the collarbone, you can’t do much with it unless you choose to get surgery and get a titanium plate drilled on top of that.
It’ll just fuse back.
It’ll just fuse back. After some time, it pulls itself together. It’s not straight but there’s a solid bond there. I saw this doc that a friend of a friend recommended who gave me a sling for free. He was an ER doctor. But then I saw this bone doctor or whatever you call them. A specialist. He said it wouldn’t do anything. He just shitted on my sling and didn’t give me anything else. He just said it would heal.
You can walk around with a broken collarbone?
Yeah, it just sucks. You feel vulnerable and weird. But yeah, it just feels very awkward. You have this moving part on your body that’s not supposed to be there. I feel like the doctor was trying to sell me on the surgery. Like he wasn’t offering any other solution. It took longer than I thought it should to heal. But I used it as an excuse to get a marijuana card.
That’s better than those bunk reasons people come up with. That’s pretty legit.
It’s kind of legit, but it’s also kind of not. You show up to the thing with a sling and a broken bone. But at the same time, it’s not like a painkiller. It just kind of makes you a little too aware that you have something wrong and weird happening.
When I used to smoke weed, I used to be very aware of my heart beating. And I was, like, I don’t like that. I mean, I do but I don’t like being aware of it.
Yeah, but I thought it would be a nice thing to have.
So how did you get weed in California?
I mean, in California, you can get weed easily. Your friend has a card. Or you have weed dealers that have the same stuff. It’s not as well wrapped or packaged maybe or like in cool medicinal canisters or whatever.
That does sound really cool. Did you find it difficult when you came out here to get hooked into the weed scene?
That’s funny. Moving here I did have this consideration about weed. The quality and the ease of procuring. And how it wasn’t as decriminalized. There’s a lot of undercover cop activity in the city. It’s crazy.
They can ruin your night.
I know a lot of friends—a lot of female friends—who went to jail for a night. Publicly I’m way more worried about doing it here. In Cali, I’m like whatever. So that was a consideration moving out here.
You can’t just smoke a joint in the middle of San Francisco.
I don’t know how it works exactly, but you kind of can. In the Bay Area, every other person smells like weed. It’s really common and not an issue. Here I made a conscious effort not to do it in public. This is not the same place.
It’s more, like, you walk out of the front door high.
It’s not that big of a deal, just kind of an adjustment.
You found the quality to be fine?
It’s fine. It’s a little more pricey. But what I smoke now is just cheap stuff from a friend and it’s not as good, but it does the job. I’m not that crazy about it. It’s OK. I’m not that picky about it. No big deal.
Let’s talk about stand up. You’re headlining now. Do you write at all? Do you write dialogue and sketches?
No, I haven’t put any effort into anything outside writing jokes. In terms of creative stuff, I’m trying to get back into doing photos.
You don’t have an interest in writing sketches.
I do to a certain extent, but it’s superficial. I’m not that inspired right now. The idea is really cool to me, but I haven’t really.
Do you try out for roles? Like commercials or TV?
Very, very few. I’ve taken an acting class, years ago, before I moved out here. And it just made me scared to do it. The things I’ve gotten are a couple of sitcom auditions, but…
Are the characters like “Asian Guy 3” types?
No, it’s more, like, the one guy who could be ethnic. It could be a black guy or Asian dude or whatever.
Is it like the same five East Asian men competing for roles? You know, there’s only a handful of South Asian guys, and you typically see the same faces.
Probably. I’m not competing so I wouldn’t really know, but I’m sure there’s probably a handful. When I see some commercials, I see two Asian guys repeatedly. One of my friends—Randy, Randall.
I love that guy.
And this other Asian dude with glasses. I don’t know his name. But you see those two in multiple commercials. So I’m sure that scene…