One of the first jokes Mike Lane uses to describe himself in this hilarious, painfully poignant and true comedic memoir is: “I’m like if Dave Grohl worked at Google.”
Actually, though, the half-Irish, half-Chinese LA-based stand-up comedian and one-man band is more reminiscent of Bo Burnham from his Inside era.
The artist’s original songs, performed on his acoustic guitar, meld perfectly with his comedic retellings of his journey on the way to “not hating [himself].” It’s a classic case of coping with trauma through humor (and a little live music).
With this show, Lane set out to come to terms with himself and his identity, as well as share the mixed-race experience with others who might not be familiar with it. He does just that in an hour-long show worthy of its own Netflix special.
The audience can see, from start to finish, Lane’s transformation from a confused little kid unsure whether to choose the white or Asian side of himself in a race war, to “pop punk turd” having an existential crisis, to self-aware adult gaining more confidence in himself with each passing day.
Throughout the show, Lane acknowledges all the struggles he faced as a mixed-race child. He talked about his alcoholic, Irish-Bostonian dad who died when Lane was 18; he talked about his Chinese mother who had an inspirational, quiet pride about her; he talked about never knowing which box to check on standardized test surveys; he talked about never fitting in completely with his Asian friends; he talked about not being able to communicate with his grandparents.
But he talks about these issues in a very savvy way. Lane makes light of the very real issues that come from not fitting into a neat racial box in a way that honors the pain many mixed-race children experience without bringing the audience down.
There’s a great blend of millennial humor, in-your-face/sometimes-life-sucks moments, guitar strumming, and raw truth-sharing. Sometimes you’ll feel for Lane, and sometimes you’ll laugh right along with him, but he does a great job of connecting with the audience regardless through his monologues, jokes, conversations with the audience, and songs. He’s wickedly funny and isn’t a bad musician or vocalist, either.
The show had a great moral, too: Lane’s lived experiences taught him an important lesson about appreciating yourself and creating your own identity instead of letting others define you.
At times, some of the jokes bordered on corny, but overall, Lane delivered a simultaneously light-hearted and heartfelt performance that is definitely worth seeing.
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.
Mike Lane: Mixed Race Sweetie plays two more times — July 23 at 6:15 PM; and July 24 at 2:00 PM — at Representation – Formerly Washington Sports Club, 3270 M St. NW, Washington, DC. To see the performance schedule and purchase tickets ($15), go online.
COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.
Age appropriateness: Recommended for Children 13+ and Older