Comedians Canceled in China for ‘Sensitive Jokes’

Chinese comedy fans are witnessing a crackdown on stand-up

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1:51 AM HKT, Sat May 27, 2023 1 mins read

It’s a challenging time for comedians in China.

After a controversy last week featuring Chinese comedian Li Haoshi, this time it’s London-based Nigel Ng, better known by his stage character ‘Uncle Roger,’ who's been erased from multiple Chinese social media platforms. This happened after a video showed him mocking China’s strict policies on issues ranging from surveillance to Taiwan.

On Monday, Ng posted the clip on his Twitter account as a teaser for his upcoming show ‘The HAIYAA Special,’ which is set for release on June 4.

The Malaysian comedian was quickly banned from Weibo and Bilibili, China’s equivalents of Twitter and YouTube, respectively. His Xiaohongshu account, China’s answer to Instagram, seems to still be active for the time being. Ng had accumulated 900,000 followers across all three platforms.

Online, some netizens criticized Ng for perpetuating Western stereotypes against Asians, saying that “many Asian performers discriminate against themselves to gain recognition from Western audiences, while the Black and Latino communities each stick together.”

Others argued that banning Ng on all Chinese platforms would only make people more supportive of his points around authoritarian censorship.

This comes on the heels of another stand-up comedy censorship controversy — last week, Chinese comedian Li Haoshi, who goes by the stage name House, was investigated after making a joke during his set in Beijing that compared the People’s Liberation Army to stray dogs chasing squirrels.

In a video clip that went viral, Li said that seeing two stray dogs chase a squirrel had reminded him of the phrase “Forge exemplary conduct! Fight to win!” President Xi Jinping used this slogan in 2013 to describe the army, and it has since become the motto of China’s military.

As a result, the company behind Li, Xiaoguo Culture, was fined over 13 million RMB (about 2 million USD), and its scheduled performances were cancelled.

A number of stand-up shows have been cancelled in the wake of the incident, including those by foreign comedians based in Beijing, insiders told RADII on the condition of anonymity.

Cover image via IMDb

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