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Father-Son Comedy Duo Does Reality TV

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Father-Son Comedy Duo Does Reality TV

Arts & Life

Father-Son Comedy Duo Does Reality TV

Father-Son Comedy Duo Does Reality TV

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Host Michel Martin speaks to Internet comedy sensation Kevin Wu and his father Michael Wu. Kevin has had 100 million hits on his videos. They are contestants on this season's Amazing Race.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Now we have a story about the clash of generations. Now, that's nothing new, but young Kevin Wu and his father Michael Wu have put that age-old theme to a very modern purpose.

Kevin Wu, who was born and raised in the U.S., has recorded dozens of short, funny YouTube videos, many of them featuring his father, an immigrant from Taiwan.

Altogether, these vignettes have been viewed more than 100 million times. Here's a clip from a playful video called "Why We Hate Each Other."

(Soundbite of video, "Why We Hate Each Other")

Mr. MICHAEL WU: I don't like you always singing these rap songs, you know, these ridiculous rap songs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KEVIN WU: Yeah, that's what people listen to these days. Those songs are catchy.

Mr. M. WU: You call those songs?

MARTIN: And now the father and son pair are doing more than making YouTube videos. They are one of 11 teams competing on this season's "The Amazing Race" reality show on CBS. And they both join us now from member station KUHF in Houston, Texas. Thank you both so much for joining us. Welcome.

Mr. K. WU: Thank you, yeah, thanks for having us.

Mr. M. WU: Yeah, I mean, we're honored to be here.

MARTIN: Okay, thank you. Well, Kevin, let's start with you. Why did you start making these videos?

Mr. K. WU: I started my junior year in high school, and at the time, YouTube wasn't huge. You know, right now it's the number two search engine. But back then, you know, it was still a new website. And I got bored, and I posted a couple videos, and people responded well to it. So I kept doing it.

MARTIN: And Mr. Wu, why did you agree to participate?

Mr. M. WU: At the beginning, I really don't agree because I want him to spend more time studying.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. M. WU: But I guess he has all these fans establishment. And the first time, I say okay, I'll do it. And it turned out to be a very fun experience.

MARTIN: Well, you have been a very good sport, and I'll play another clip that captures the essence of some of these exchanges between you two. Here it is.

(Soundbite of video)

Mr. K. WU: So Dad, I'm going to be leaving for college in about two and a half weeks. Are you going to miss me?

Mr. M. WU: Of course, I'm going to miss you, man, but I know you're going to live in the dormitory, right. So no drink, no drugs, no girls.

Mr. K. WU: No girls?

Mr. M. WU: I mean, no girls in your room.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: And, Kevin, you know what? I'm going to do you a favor today. I'm not going to ask if you've stuck to that instruction. I'm going to just leave it to your conscience.

So some of these videos do have to do with your experience of being Asian-American, and I'm curious about how that was that always the intention, or did that just develop?

Mr. K. WU: That sort of developed. I mean, in the beginning, one of my first videos was about stereotypes. And I gained a really big audience from these Asian-American viewers because in traditional media, there's not really many Asian-Americans that, you know, do TV or stuff like that.

So a lot of these Asian-American teenagers, they go to the Internet, and they watch people like me. So I also touch up on a lot of Asian-American issues because, you know, I have my dad in my videos, and they're funny, you know. Our tradition, our heritage is serious, but there's funny moments that happen.

MARTIN: If you don't mind, I would like to play just another sort of clip from one of these.

Mr. K. WU: Go ahead.

MARTIN: But this is one about why you like...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I don't know. Why am I laughing? I think the whole thing is just funny, why you like Yao Ming.

(Soundbite of video)

Mr. K. WU: You know what I love about Yao Ming? Ever since he became the tallest player in the NBA, no one could really call Asians short anymore. Because if they did, we could be, like, oh, we're short? That's funny. Ever heard of Yao Ming? Now we just need an Asian to win NASCAR.

MARTIN: So true. Mr. Wu, how do you feel about Kevin kind of unpacking some of these issues around the Asian-American experience or the experience of being Asian in America? Sometimes, people feel that these things don't need to be so publicly discussed, that people should just kind of get through it, put there head down. As former Secretary of State Colin Powell said: Suck it up. What is your thought about that?

Mr. M. WU: I mean, I'm glad that Kevin, at his age, when he's talking about this, I mean, I'm glad he aware of the situation and he put in the public. And I think this kind of concept between peoples need to be more public aware.

MARTIN: Tell me about "The Amazing Race." Kevin, how did this come about? How did your participation come about?

Mr. K. WU: Right. So, I mean, like everyone auditioning for the race, we sent in our video. And they - you know, the "Amazing Race" people, they loved it. They said they knew about my videos, so that helped a whole bunch and, you know, after that they were on board and we were on board. So it worked out.

MARTIN: And Mr. Wu, can I ask you: Why did you agree to participate? I'm just going to take a wild guess here and guess that Kevin roped you into that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Just like he roped you into the YouTube videos. Do I have that about right?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. M. WU: Well, you have about 50 percent right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. M. WU: Well, I mean, the thought of we can travel to different places around the world and doing something, that kind of put me right in there.

MARTIN: It seems like a pretty grueling experience, Kevin. Is that right? Just watching, it seems kind of grueling.

Mr. K. WU: It's the most grueling thing I've ever done, for sure.

MARTIN: What about you Mr. Wu? How about that?

Mr. M. WU: Yes, it's pretty tough. It's much tougher than I thought.

MARTIN: Where...

Mr. K. WU: It's just more mental toughness than physical toughness, I would say.

Mr. M. WU: Yeah.

MARTIN: Really? I'm assuming that there were some good times, and you've got your bad times. We have a short clip from the first episode, where the two of you really struggled to make it across a creek on a small boat. Here's a clip from right as you make it through this obstacle. Here it is.

(Soundbite of CBS's "The Amazing Race")

Mr. K. WU: I got you covered. Come on, dad. Here we go. Here he comes.

Mr. M. WU: Show...

Mr. K. WU: We tanked four times.

Mr. M. WU: Yeah.

Mr. K. WU: But this man pulled through.

MARTIN: So there were some good moments there. But I will say this...

Mr. M. WU: Sure.

MARTIN: ...and I'm going to - I'm sorry. I have to tell your business. You guys did get a little lost on your way to the studio today. So I'm kind of wondering, does that foreshadow the outcome of the race?

Mr. K. WU: I was thinking that. I was thinking that on the way here. I was thinking it would be funny if I told them about our story. Yeah, we did get lost getting here, and we're from Houston, so, you know, imagine driving halfway across the world in a different country. But, no, I think it would be...

MARTIN: Well, there's kind of a stereotype there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I don't want to...

Mr. K. WU: We're not...

MARTIN: I don't want to open the door on anything. I - little...

Mr. K. WU: That's true. We do our best to not enforce those stereotypes, but, no I mean...

MARTIN: But you did get lost to the studio.

Mr. K. WU: It was just a coincidence, okay? We drive good, and we did well during the race, okay? So...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. K. WU: ...today was just a coincidence.

MARTIN: Okay. I'm so relieved to hear it. And Mr. Wu, I know you'll tell me the truth. Were there some tense moments between you two? Did things get a little testy?

Mr. M. WU: I mean - oh, yeah. Yeah.

MARTIN: Testy?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. M. WU: Let me give you an example. When we come back from the trip, we don't talk to each other for two weeks.

MARTIN: Two weeks?

Mr. M. WU: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. K. WU: We were sick of each other. I mean, we - during the race we were stuck together 24/7. I don't see anyone but him. I mean, no, we're not sick of each other, but we did really well. We didn't argue that much during the race and, you know...

MARTIN: Yeah, okay, we'll be the judges of that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: But you didn't speak for two weeks?

Mr. M. WU: Yeah.

MARTIN: My goodness. Okay. So who broke the ice first?

Mr. M. WU: I don't know when exactly we break the ice. But I noticed we didn't really...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. K. WU: I mean...

Mr. M. WU: ...communicate at all. Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: So was it, Kevin, was that a spillover from the race, or were you just tired of each other's company?

Mr. K. WU: No, we were just tired of each other's company. And I don't want people to get the wrong idea. It was just, you know, we were with each other for extended periods of time, and when we get home, we want to be with our friends and, you know, hang out with other people.

MARTIN: That's very diplomatic.

Mr. K. WU: Yeah.

MARTIN: You may have a career in the Foreign Service.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Well done.

Mr. K. WU: Thank you.

MARTIN: Well, Kevin Wu and Michael Wu, they are son and father. They are contestants on this season's "Amazing Race," which premiers this Sunday on CBS.

Gentlemen, thank you both so much. Good luck. We can't wait to see what happens.

Mr. K. WU: Thank you.

Mr. M. WU: Thank you.

Mr. K. WU: Yes. Watch us on YouTube.

Mr. M. WU: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: To watch some of Kevin's videos with his dad and to follow their journey through "The Amazing Race," please go to our website. Go to npr.org, and under Programs, click on TELL ME MORE.

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Watch Kevin and Michael Wu On YouTube