Joe Wong, apparently, has done both. After achieving success as a stand-up comedian in the US for the past two years, the 41-year-old has returned to China to publicize his book The Tao of Humor: An Autobiography by Joe Wong.
"The key, or the symbol to success is doing the thing you like, or finding an interest in your work," Wong said.
Wong didn't realize his love for stand-up comedy until 2002, when his friends took him to a comedy club in Boston.
Before that, Wong was simply another Chinese immigrant with a doctoral degree from Rice University, Houston, Texas, and who talks with a strong accent.
After practicing for a few months, Wong made his debut performance at a comedy club in Boston in late 2002.
"When I finished my first five minutes of performance, a member of the audience came to me and said 'you seemed interesting, but I didn’t understand a word you said', " Wong said.
Wong kept practicing and performing at the club, until he became well known in Boston.
In April 2009, Wong was invited to perform on the Late Show with David Letterman, a popular late-night talk show in the US.
Wong said it was a turning point of his career and his life. He did very well and was invited to perform at the Radio and Television Correspondents' annual dinner in 2010.
"It was the proudest moment of my life. It was a great honor for me to stand in the venue as an Asian, and speak for Chinese immigrants with a long history," Wong said.
According to Wong, his jokes aren't random humor, but are carefully crafted with his science background. He said people enjoy absurd logic. For instance, the US government spends tax raised from cigarettes on finding ways to cure cancer. Wong jokes: "When I smoked, I was actually finding a way to cure cancer."
"Also, I want to tell stories about immigrants to raise their profile."
Wong has his critics. Some people think that he could contribute more to society as a biochemist, rather than a stand-up comedian, but Wong disagrees.
"I have been to Harvard and met many Chinese professors there. I think science in the US has enough Chinese," Wong said. "But in my area, you hardly found any Chinese."
Wong said he'd changed many Americans' stereotypical view that Chinese lack a sense of humor and are always buried in work.
"Hopefully more people will understand our stories. I also want to encourage immigrants like me to speak out and live better."