Y2Khai (A Modern American Genius)

Y2 Khai is/was one of the great, early geniuses of the web. His rapid ascent and mysterious disappearance have left as in the lurch. I will never forget Y2 Khai. From my own point of view, his work means so much to me because he did so many of the things that I should have wanted to do.1 Only he was years ahead.

So what does he do?

He plays a character we can all understand, the teenage Asian pimp daddy who has somehow found himself lifted straight from an Eminem album and placed in the American public school system. He uses his amazingly broken/bad English to get his message across, which just so happens to be Eminen's as well. (Think of a self-aware William Hung, or the opposite, a completely un-self-aware Ali G). Khai obviously knows he is being funny. Or does he? Fact is he never breaks the disbelief, never cops to the fact that it has to be all a big joke. He maintains the dry line throughout. This is what separates the best humor from other kinds.

“The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the “nub” of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.” - Mark Twain

Khai's genius is in portraying himself as the pimp daddy who is so oblivious to the fact that he’s not one, that it begs the question of whether this reality (as an outsider might judge it) really makes any difference. Maybe he is the pimp daddy, and it is us, who are on the outside looking in. After all, he’s the one with the Impala.

1 I had planned to have random thick-accented FOB’s reading Donald Barthelme, Catcher in the Rye, others. Such in-the-know American writing in such non-American voice. And by people for whom the meaning was clearly lost.