Students and special guest stars shine for APAHM

March 23, 2018

The Brandeis Asian-American Students Association (BAASA) hosted a super star lineup Saturday in an early celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). Featuring standup comedian J.R. De Guzman and YouTuber Motoki Maxted, the show opened to a boisterous, fired up crowd in Brandeis’ Levin Ballroom.

BAASA’s executive board brought a comedic twist to start the APAHM Variety Show. Their introductory video featured twerking, lip syncing, weight-lifting, donuts and money-throwing. Following this hilarious and unifying short film experience was a series of opening remarks that emphasized the theme of the show: one world, one community.

Between acts, emcees Jennifer Taufan ’20 and Alvin Liu ’18, cracked a few bad jokes, then apologized for them. When setup took particularly long, Liu decided to recite a brief history of his musical failures—among them, the recorder, piano, harmonica and guitar—though he unfortunately ran out of time to conclude his story.

BAASA’s first student acts consisted of three modern dance groups led by Vivian Li ’18, Kelyn Zhang ’19 and Amanda Cheung ’20. The scholar-dancers looked effortlessly cool as they slid back and forth across the stage in sync. Decked in a variety of outfits like pastel shirts and later, black and white tops and jackets, they switched dancing styles and moved through different songs like Jason Derulo’s “Swalla.”

Next up was Brandeis Bhangra, a troupe who performed traditional moves from folk dances in the Punjab region. Members wore flowing white and rainbow outfits with veils and wound their arms around, making grandiose gestures as they danced.

Stop Motion Dance Crew added to the dose of dancing magic. Their act imitated a video game, with a protagonist in a completely white outfit and the other characters in black and red. The engaging performance also featured feigned punching and fighting, fun music and intricate, colorful light displays.

A moving duo of slam poets, Olivia Nichols ’20 and Hangil Ryu ’20 halted the dance act streak with a powerful poem on the preciousness of life, self-consciousness, Super Smash Bros Brawl and writing, asking “What do we write for except to write?”

More dancing followed with the group Seanana Vincenzo Hyonaldo, conquering a glowing stage with their K-Pop style moves as they alternated formations to the beat of BTS’ “Mic Drop.”

Eli Kengmana ’19, a New York City native and Brandeisian, performed an original percussive guitar solo, which he described as an attempt at creating a sound version of a friend’s drawing. Kengmana simultaneously strummed the guitar strings and tapped the guitar body for a relaxing, ambient sound just before the show paused for intermission.

As the show restarted for its second act, the dance team Rice Paddy Heroes offered another fun opener with posing and lip syncing pre-recorded conversation. Their playlist was modern and cultured, with some Spanish language verses as well as Liam Payne’s “Strip that Down.”

The highlight of the night, Filipino-American De Guzman of Comedy Central and Standup NBC fame came ready to draw some laughs with his standup comedy and singing. He played his guitar while reciting short, Irish folk-style ballads about topics like living with parents, interracial relationships, southerners, diversity, dual citizenship and incest.

De Guzman improvised a few melodious quips from audience-given words, such as yogurt, ramen, sriracha, guacamole and even Jesus. He closed with Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” albeit with a few improvised twists and a few more jokes.

Video personality Motoki Maxted recalled his inspiration for becoming a YouTuber. Famous for his car ride videos with his mother, Maxted discussed growing up in predominantly white Wauseon, Ohio as a biracial Japanese-American.

Maxted described Wauseon as so white that a girl he went on a date with thought Asia was a country. His heartfelt speech had a fun, relatable twist, but it was also moving. His experiences in Ohio, a state he joked about being awful, and with an unsupportive family were somber topics, but his humor still shone through.

For the final act, BAASA’s e-board danced across the stage in flannels before offering flowers to their graduating senior members. They had clearly spent a lot of time on the show’s execution and created something they could be proud of.

Before leaving, audience members and performers were offered specially catered food and soda, bringing a delicious end to a fun night.

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