Matthew Moy has an ability to laugh at himself and a good sense of self-esteem. He needs both those things for his role as diner owner Han Lee on 2 Broke Girls.
Han gets picked on a lot by the other characters, particularly Max, played by Kat Dennings. Han’s clothes, his height, his race, his culture, nothing is off-limits.
“At least on our show, we make a point of ragging on everybody,” said Moy (pictured above). “It’s kind of the way we show that we love each other.
“But you’re right, you need a high sense of self-esteem to take it. When you look like I do, you know, you take it.”
In one episode of 2 Broke Girls, which is in its second season and airs Mondays on CBS and Citytv, there were multiple references to Han being a 53-year-old man. “I’m 29!” an exasperated Han kept correcting.
“That’s so funny, right?” said Moy, who started his career in voice-over work for animation and videogames, and has guest-starred in series such as How I Met Your Mother, The Middle and iCarly. “It’s something I’ve encountered my whole life, I’m very used to being younger and older.
“I’m 28 in real life, but I’m used to people thinking I’m between 12 and 40.”
2 Broke Girls stars Dennings and Beth Behrs as, well, two broke girls. The difference being, Behrs’ character, Caroline, is not used to being broke, whereas Dennings’ Max has plenty of experience in that area.
Max and Caroline have a dream of starting their own cupcake business, but in the meantime they’re paying the bills by working at a greasy-spoon diner owned by Han.
“I’m so thankful for the people on my show, we have such great chemistry, Beth and Kat are like best friends in real life,” Moy said. “We’re super funny, we’re edgy, we get everybody in and out. It’s very fast.
“I’ll be honest, our episodes are written a little longer than what’s shown on TV. So you’re missing a lot of stuff that hopefully comes out on the DVDs. We pack it in, we get as many laughs as we can. That’s the advantage of a live studio audience, too, so we can get that feedback.”
The Han character is Korean, and occasionally Moy has to speak it. Which is interesting, because Moy is not Korean.
“I’m third- or fourth-generation Chinese-American,” said Moy, who, unlike his character, speaks English with no accent at all. A native of San Francisco, Moy also majored in Japanese in college.
“That is legit Korean that Han is speaking,” Moy added. “I spent about three days with a coach. Thankfully it works on the show.
“I’ve had a couple of Koreans talk to me and ask, ‘Do you really speak Korean? Because you don’t sound like you’re from Korea, but you sound like a second-generation Korean, someone who was born in America.’
“Hey, I’ll take that. I’ll take it as a newbie who spent three days learning it.”
2 Broke Girls clearly is benefiting from Matthew Moy’s full array of linguistic and comedic skills.
He can take a joke, too. Thank goodness.
(EXTRA: For the column I wrote in September with Dennings (below left) talking about how important it is for women to know their “real bra size,” click here.)