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Community Stories

Cold Tofu

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Founded in 1981 by four women of color, COLD TOFU remains the nation's FIRST and longest running Asian American improv and sketch comedy troupe. Using interviews, archival footage, puppets and rap—THIS is the story of how COLD TOFU began...

About the Artists

COLD TOFU is the nation's first and longest running Asian American improv and sketch comedy troupe. A non-profit organization founded in 1981 by four women of color, COLD TOFU is dedicated to promoting diverse images of Asian Americans through comedy and to developing multi-ethnic talent through education and performance. Under the artistic direction of Jully Lee, COLD TOFU currently has a membership of over 25 active members who continue to train and rehearse regularly and also offers online improv workshops to the public.

Jully Lee began her career training with COLD TOFU in 2004 and was appointed Artistic Director in 2013. After her debut in the sketch comedy show TELEMONGOL, Jully was offered a co-star role on RENO911! Since then, she has worked steadily in film and TV, and has received critical acclaim in over 30 stage productions, including the 2021 Ovation award nomination. Jully also directs and teaches improv with COLD TOFU, and has directed with more than a dozen theatre companies throughout Los Angeles. TWITTER: @jullylee INSTAGRAM: @jullyleeIG

Howard Ho is a playwright, composer, YouTube-er, and Ovation-nominated sound designer. He is an O'Neill Playwrights Finalist, and his musical Pretendo was performed in the Center Theatre Group Library Reading Series. His short musical End of the Line was performed at the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival and is published by Theatre Now New York. His YouTube videos have garnered millions of views and have been recognized by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Howard began training with COLD TOFU in 2008 and is currently an Associate Artist, performing as resident musician. TWITTER: @ho_howard INSTAGRAM: @howardwho

Johnny Long Ye, AKA Jaw Knee Yeah, is an independent musician from Los Angeles, CA. Known for his funny acoustic covers & parodies on YouTube, he produces & records his music using FL Studio, Maschine, & the MPC. When he's not making music at home, he's DJing at someone's wedding, teaching kids karate, or honing his improv comedy and acting skills. He's been training with COLD TOFU since 2011, and joined the Ensemble in 2012, performing in the Main Performing Cast during the 2016-2017 Season. TWITTER: @jawkneeyeah INSTAGRAM: @jawkneeyeah

Kelvin Kao is a Los Angeles-based puppeteer and current board member of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry. Before the pandemic, you could see him perform at various variety shows around town… or find him running lights and sound in the tech booth. Amongst his peers, he’s known for making bad puns and for producing his own original annual Christmas puppet videos to send to his friends and colleagues. Kelvin began training with COLD TOFU in 2017 to learn more about improv to enhance his performance in puppetry and joined the COLD TOFU Ensemble in 2018. TWITTER: @kelvinkao INSTAGRAM: @kelvinkao

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