Comedienne Irene Tu uses humor as a platform for social change

“And then you see it on his face. He freezes and he’s freaking out, he’s probably thinking something like, ‘Oh my God, this might be sexual harassment.’ And that... That just makes my day.”

In her show “Intersectional Comedian,” Irene Tu uses her platform to show how comedy can be for social change. The humor in her jokes provides a way for her to easily talk about typically uncomfortable problems within our society. She makes statements about racism, homophobia and feminism, while also making light-hearted jokes about braces and broken cell phones. While she makes several silly jokes, Tu centers her shows on being Asian, queer and a woman and the many experiences she’s had. Furthermore, Tu explains becoming a comedian was a great way for her, a self-proclaimed introvert, to be able to talk at people and not to them, where they would listen to her feelings and not respond back.

“This is hilarious! Nobody talks about these things and we need to if we want them to change,” junior Nereida Miramontes said. “Irene Tu finally is, and she makes it so easy to talk about things that are so hard bring up.”

Based at, and a graduate from, Berkeley, Tu’s earned degree in “basically ethics” made her “super broke, but also super woke.” She performs in comedy clubs while also working in a small book store. Currently living in Berkeley, she is originally from Chicago, “but that doesn’t matter since nobody from the West Coast knows any geography anyways.”

Inspired by Ellen Degeneres, Tu hopes to become “Asian Ellen!” When asked where Tu finds her inspiration and how she decides what controversial topics she’ll make jokes about, she answered, “Whatever is most interesting to me at the moment is what comes through with my jokes. The things that keep bothering me in my everyday life is what I write my jokes about.”

Junior Giovanna Castellanos said, “My favorite part was just having someone who was also queer poke fun at it, along with her many identities, without putting [the queer community] down for it like so many other comedians do.” .

Many of Tu’s jokes really picked apart major issues that exist in society. Tu wasted little time before diving deep into more serious topics, going as far as talking about personal thoughts of suicide. However, remaining true to the comedian that she is, she declares she won’t because she does not want people writing on her Facebook wall. Tu provided a way that she could share her own experiences on very serious subjects openly without making people uncomfortable by warping them to be funny instead of dreary.

Tu is very aware of the weight many of her jokes hold. She frequently reminds the audience that they need to “get on board” with each joke. They are long and story-like, but she means them so the audience will find them funny; she means them as jokes. When the stories come too close to the line that separates serious and silly, she reminds the crowd to get on board and laugh at the things that are wrong with society while also realizing that these problems exist.

For information about upcoming showtimes and locations, one can find Irene Tu on Twitter and Instagram with the username Irene_Tu.