Most standup comedians discover their talents at an early age, be it as the class clown or oddball in school. Sheng Wang wasn't one of those people.
"I was never the go-to funny guy or anything like that," he says of his introduction to the comedy world. "I was in a group back in college for Asian kids who wanted to do something onstage, and one kid mentioned standup comedy. I was like, 'I think I know what that is, and I think I like it.' So I tried it and it worked out."
Eleven years later, Wang is living in New York and performing standup in comedy clubs, college campuses, and festivals all over the country. This weekend, he'll be at Mystic Lake Comedy Club showing audiences what he decided to do instead of getting a real job.
"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after I finished college," he says. "I graduated with a business degree, but I knew that I wanted to not work. I thought I was going to be a poet or a photographer. Comedy definitely wasn't a lifelong dream of mine or anything like that."
Fortunately, comedy turned out to be a natural fit for Wang, despite the fact that he didn't grow up in household that knew much of anything about standup.
"My parents grew up in Taiwan, where there really isn't standup comedy," he explains. "Whenever they tell people about what I do for a living they call it 'talk show,' which is a really weird way to describe comedy. A lot of Asian Americans are used to seeing comedy as more of a variety show as opposed to just someone onstage telling jokes. I had never really watched any standup growing up, so this was a whole new experience for me and my parents."
While they may not have grasped the concept of their son's comedy aspirations right away, Wang says his parents have settled into the idea of his new career.
"I haven't borrowed money from them in a long time, and I'm on TV occasionally, so I think that makes them feel a little better about what I'm doing."
Even though he's been active on the comedy scene for over a decade, including late night talk show appearances and his own half-hour special on Comedy Central, Wang has big plans for the future, including ideas for his post-comedy retirement.
"I'll probably do standup for another 10 years or so, then retire and deliver pizzas," he says. "At this point, I'm not sure I have much to offer society in terms of relevant skills besides comedy."
IF YOU GO:
Sheng Wang with Matt Koff
Mystic Lake Comedy Club
April 18-19, 7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake, MN