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Why Dr. Chan From Space Force Looks So Familiar

For those who haven't yet heard, a new "workplace" comedy from former The Office co-horts Greg Daniels and Steve Carell is about to land at Netflix, and it's primed to become the comedy event of 2020. Titled Space Force, the new streaming series finds Carell again stepping into the role of boss, only this time, he's in charge of assembling the not-so-fictional sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. In case you hadn't guessed, that branch did, indeed, give the series its title, and you'd better believe Space Force will be a farcical look at the formation of the moon-bound militaristic unit.

Judging from the official trailer, Space Force is a "workplace" comedy that has a little more in common with the politically skewering works of Armando Iannucci (In The LoopVeepThe Death of Stalin) than the workaday world of The Office. It's clear Daniels and Carell have assembled a crack team of comedic and dramatic talent to make it happen, as well, filling out their Space Force cast with impressive screen talents like John Malkovich and Noah Emmerich, and fronting appearances from the likes of Lisa Kudrow, Ben Schwartz, the late, great Fred Willard, and more.

Among Space Force's "and more" players, it's likely one face will feel a bit more familiar than most. It belongs to up-and-coming comic guru Jimmy O. Yang, who portrays the brilliant Dr. Chan Kaifang on the show. If you've wondering where you've seen Yang's face before, the options are plenty, because he's been responsible for bringing some serious funny to screens big and small in recent years. Here's why Dr. Chan from Space Force looks so familiar.   

Jimmy O. Yang served up some serious laughs on Silicon Valley

Of course, Jimmy O. Yang is hardly a new face in the comedy world. The Hong Kong-born actor-slash-comedian has actually been making the rounds for a few years now, having earned credits on lauded comedies like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, New Girl, and Fresh Off the Boat. He's also appeared in big screen fare like Patriot's Day (opposite Mark Wahlberg), El Camino Christmas (with Yellowstone star Luke Grimes), and Life of the Party (alongside Melissa McCarthy). If there's one place from which most viewers know Jimmy O. Yang's face, however, it's almost certainly for his turn as the chain-smoking, diabolically dimwitted, would-be entrepreneur Jian Yang from HBO's Silicon Valley.

If you're among the few who never caught an episode of the hit cable series sprung from the sardonically twisted mind of Mike Judge, Silicon Valley followed the cringingly hilarious rise and fall of fictional wunderkind Richard Jenkins (Thomas Middleditch) as he and a faithful band of allies tried and repeatedly failed to make their mark in the tech industry. No, Jimmy O. Yang's character was not one of those allies. In fact, he was most often out to trash talk, undermine, or outright steal from Jenkins and his crew. In doing so, he was frequently a comedic punching bag from the show's crack comedic cast, including Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Zach Woods, TJ Miller, and Amanda Crew. 

Fans of Silicon Valley can, of course, attest to the fact that Yang's character hardly took those punches lying down, and typically punched back even harder. In doing so, Yang more often than not stole both laughs and scenes from his more famous co-stars.          

Jimmy O. Yang took an ill-fated trip to Fantasy Island

Though he's made more than a name for himself in the comedy world over the past decade, Jimmy O. Yang has also been looking to stretch his acting skills beyond delivering skewering one-liners with deadpan sincerity. In early 2020, Yang's search for the more serious side of cinema led him to the world of genre powerhouse Blumhouse Productions, and, eventually, to the horrific shores of their Fantasy Island.

Inspired by the 1970s TV series of the same name, Fantasy Island took the basic construct of its predecessor (a wealthy hotel owner invites people to his off-the-radar island to make their wildest fantasies come true), and gave it the full-on horror treatment. In that spirit, the film opens with a handful of visitors arriving at the titular island not fully knowing what to expect. As their fantasies begin to unfold, they quickly turn deadly, leaving viewers to wonder who will leave the island alive.

Essentially four mini-horror flicks in one, Fantasy Island saw Jimmy O. Yang portraying Brax Weaver opposite Ryan Hansen's J.D. As far as their fantasy goes, it's the pretty run of the mill "have it all" sort of thing, only "having it all" comes with its own particular brand of crazy. As the fantasy devolves into absurdist nightmare, Brax is ultimately faced with a fateful choice that'll change both their lives.

We're not going to sit here and tell you Fantasy Island is great cinema. It isn't. But if you go in looking for little more than a clever construct, a couple of laughs, and a fair amount of ghoulish horror, you're likely to find your genre fill in Fantasy Island. You'll also find a surprisingly solid performance form Jimmy O. Yang anchoring the film.

Jimmy O. Yang brought the party to Crazy Rich Asians

While there's been no particular shortage of romantic comedies hitting the big screen of late, there's undoubtedly been a shortage of really good rom-coms making their way to multiplexes. So, when really good romantic comedy does actually find its way to theaters, audiences tend to flock. Released in 2018, Crazy Rich Asians is a really good romantic comedy, and it ultimately became one of the more surprising blockbuster successes of the past decade.

That "surprising" tag had to do with the fact that the film — which follows an American-born Asian woman (Constance Wu) who travels to Singapore to meet the fabulously wealthy family of her boyfriend (Henry Golding) — was the first U.S. production since the early '90s to feature Asian performers in all of its primary roles. In spite of that fact, Crazy Rich Asians' wildly romantic tale of love conquering all resonated with viewers from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds, and raked in well North of $200 million at the worldwide box office on a relatively modest $30 million budget.

There's little question that a chunk of that budget probably went to the beyond insane bachelor party that unfolds on a barge in the middle of the ocean early in the film. As you no doubt recall the unabashed over-the-topness of that party, you also no doubt recall it was indeed Jimmy O. Yang portraying the party's benefactor, Bernard Tai. There's even less doubt that lively performance from Yang helped him steal every single second of screen time he had as the big-talking hotshot in Crazy Rich Asians, up to and including his hysterically memorable wedding speech.