Review: Asiansploitation Spanks The Tiger (The Director’s Cut)

by George Perry

In Toronto, Asiansploitation ages better at Factory Studio Theatre

Asiansploitation Spanks The Tiger returned to a Toronto stage after an acclaimed Fringe run.  The most recent production is billed as the “Director’s Cut.”  Factory Studio Theatre hosted three sold out performances December 02-04.

The show is a series of skits, or sketches, depending on what generation you are part of.  It is written and performed by a seven-member troupe.  Imagine MAD TV moved from LA to Toronto, only funnier. 

The troupe known as Asiansploitation began seven years ago at Bad Dog Theatre.  Judging from this production and Revelations, something is going seriously right at that little comedy factory on The Danforth.

There’s a lot of interaction between the performers and the audience.  It really did feel like delving into a DVD and clicking around using a remote.  A few hilarious skits were elaborated on, with troupe members commenting and then performing alternate endings or beginnings. 

It’s a really fresh approach, and to use an en vogue corporate word: “engaging.”  The laughter was loud, frequent and honest.  The performers could have easily had the audience chanting “Jerry, Jerry!”  Instead, they took the high road and had us on our feet singing a song dear to our hearts. 

Speaking of the corporate world, the sketch that happens in an office is one of those “the truth hurts” moments.  It is tough working at the electronic plantation and seeing friends being written up for showing signs of humanity.  Spanks The Tiger feels our pain and is therapeutic.  It reminds us that we’re not alone.

The show is strongest when all members are involved.  Highlights include the date turned into a song by a boy band.  Another is when the troupe brings a video game to life.  All members are strong, and in this sketch Andrea James Lui really shines.  Certified in stage combat and a graduate of York and Randolph Academy, watch out for this gifted and determined woman.  She’s recently made an action movie with WWE legend Trish Stratus, and is bound to be a huge star.

A few songs are used in the show.  The music keeps it fun and lively.  One of the songs used is "Danger! High Voltage," a song by Electric Six.  My friend Dick Valentine is the front-man for Electric Six, and he was quite pleased to hear that his music is being used in this production.

I expect to see all of these people accomplishing great things in the future.  The Asiansploitation troupe is comprised of Gene Abella, Sandy Chen, James Cheng, Darrel Gamotin, Andrea James Lui, Franco Nguyen and Jeff B. Santos.

Stan and I were part of  a visible minority, as non-Asians.    It was great to feel so welcome.  We didn’t notice this until waiting for the streetcar afterwards.  The humour transcends race barriers, and so did the audience.  Funny is funny, whether funny happens at York University, Davisville, Scarborough or downtown.

This is Toronto at its best. Too bad Don Cherry wasn’t there to see a theatre full of “Pinkos” singing Oh Canada!

I was disappointed that I missed Spanks The Tiger this summer, but fortunate to catch the remount.  The only real thing that we didn’t like is that the show only ran three nights.  More people would enjoy seeing it.  I have a list of friends who would love checking this show out!

Asiansploitation Spanks The Tiger ran December 02 to 04 at The Factory Studio Theatre in Toronto.