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The Chinese stand comics authorities no longer receive jokes

The Chinese stand comics authorities no longer receive jokes


On the night of a newly opened microphone in a Beijing bar, a young Chinese comedian came out telling a joke about increased censorship.

The rules that required clubs to screen the content of performers were about to come into force. Soon, he said, China would return to the Soviet Union, where comics had to submit punch lines for prior approval.

Few of the audience laughed. But the controversial gag felt uneasy in Chinese stand-up comedy, a form of entertainment that has shifted from the exclusionary activities of big cities to being a cultural force across the country, which has attracted increasing scrutiny.

Rock & RoastThe last-person competition, which ended its third season last year, has become a regular presence on Chinese television and live stand-up shows are popular nationwide.

But this success has also been highlighted by the authorities and socially conservative comments. High load the underlying current of nationalism Beijing has stepped up some sensitivities when it comes to Washington and other Western governments.

Many comedians pointed to a 2010 screening At the White House reporters ’dinner, Joe Wong, a relatively unknown Chinese-American comic at the time, was the starting point for the rise of the Chinese stand-up scene.

The action largely explored the immigrant experience— “What is Roe v. Wade? Two Ways to Come to the United States” —but also occasionally punched U.S. politicians. that it was.

The fact that an original Chinese comedian had the chance to burn one of the most powerful politicians in the world sparked fascination with comedy in China.

“It was a fresh breeze for young people,” said Tony Chou, a former Chinese state television journalist who now works as a comedian and speaks English and Mandarin.


Chouk said Chinese audiences are becoming more and more emotional, especially when he uses English terms or mentions sensitive topics in an oblique way. “I always want to boost the audience,” he said. “It’s easier with a Western audience. You can be more stupid, a little rude. ‘

What they say about policing is often the second nature of those working in China’s cultural industries. But in the last year, official efforts to manage public discourse have expanded rapidly, as even experienced interpreters make it difficult to experiment with dangerous content.

The Office of Culture and Tourism released a draft rule last year to combat the “weak ties” of censorship in live performances and to make event organizers and clubs responsible for verifying content. It came after an industry association released a 94-point list of rules for online platforms last February, including a ban on “unilateral and extreme analysis of social issues” including a ban on stand-up shows. Both decisions were implemented in China after powerful regulation of television and radio regulators tightened the rules for chat sessions and comedies in 2018.

As the censorship increased over the years, it was abolished The Vicious Liang Huan Show, A Chinese version of US-style nightly talk shows, in the middle of the second season of 2017. The reason was never made public, but fans quickly heard that Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, was making a seemingly oblique reference to Liu Xiaobo. dissident who he died that the liver cancer was in the care of the Chinese Police.

Returning to China in 2013 to help Wong build a stand-up comedy scene, avoiding certain issues is the way it is in China. “Because of China’s national status, most stand-ups will avoid sex and politics [and] there aren’t a lot of people who pay attention to racial issues, ”he said.

However, Chinese comedians are usually at the center of the debate, even when they completely avoid politics. In the last season of the year Rock & Roast, mostly male critics said that the behavior of female comedians is “aggressive” and too feminist. When one of the contestants Yang Li joked that the men were able to “look so ordinary but confident in themselves,” the fire broke out online, and a well-known comment complained that she thought she was a “princess”. ”.

The increasingly busy environment can make it difficult to find the right material for the audience, especially female comedians, said Bernice Ding, an amateur fan who advises avoiding politics altogether. “Because you never know if there might be a‘ little rose ’or a‘ wolf warrior ’there,” he said, referring to the country’s most ardent nationalists.

Additional reports by Emma Zhou in Beijing and Qianer Liu in Shenzhen



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