Chinese American entertainers
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2014.036.004 Oral History Interview with Jami Gong April 26, 2004

Jami (Jameson) Gong is a Chinese American comedian and local Chinatown resident. Born August 23, 1969 in New York City, Jami is the son of immigrant parents from Hong Kong and Southern China. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1967 with a desire for better opportunities and a better life for their children. He reminisces about his time growing up and living in Chinatown, the pollution problem, the changing demographics over time, and the education he and his siblings received. Jami continues on to talk about his time at Syracuse University and his eye opening experience as a college student meeting people from all over the world and being more independent living outside of Chinatown. Jami describes his early experiences doing standup during his time at Syracuse University and how it made him realize that comedy was a career path for him to consider. Jami would continue to do comedy on-and-off while working jobs in New York City until he came to a realization that he could do comedy in Chinatown as a way to revitalize the local economy and nightlife following the 9/11 attacks. The success of TakeOut Comedy and his Chinatown tours would be far reaching, with media coverage from international news groups giving Chinatown recognition as a result of his efforts. Jami also describes his own 9/11 experience of witnessing the towers fall and capturing photos and videos of that particular day. Following the attacks, he noted the negative impact it had on the Chinatown economy and worked to bring back tourism into the Chinatown NYC area through his work as a local tour guide and TakeOut Comedy events. His involvement in Chinatown led him to civil rights activism, leading the local OCA chapter to advocate for equal rights for Chinese Americans. He concludes the interview with his dreams of uniting the world through comedy and what he hopes to achieve in the near future.