Joe Wong RTCA Dinner Speech, Chinese Netizen Reactions

Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong performing at RTCA Dinner.

Comedian Joe Wong became an instant success after appearing on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ and was even featured on CCTV in China last year. His recent speech at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner…

…was met with either praise from Chinese netizens or utter befuddlement regarding his jokes.

Comments on Youku:


Who translated this…so many mistakes…


I envy Americans, anything can be said.


Think about it, if he is in China, using Chinese [to make jokes], and the content changed to issues in China, and in the audience sat Party members, what will happen! It would definitely be even funnier than this.


A Chinese, at this kind of event, and being able to make people laugh, is something to be admired. Of course American jokes are often very funny, and if you understand the inner meaning it will be funnier. I hope there will be more Chinese like him, even though he already emigrated, he is still the pride of Chinese people.supportsupportsupport


Not bad.
To tell the truth,
if I have the chance,
I too am willing to become an American citizen.


For each line he said, he got a laugh. I didn’t understand any of the punchlines.


Without the cultural background, I simply couldn’t understand what he was saying, so I thank the translator for his notes/explanations.


How do I put this. A difference in culture! Everyone just feels there are no punchlines/nothing funny. Actually, those who frequently watch American sitcoms and thus understand American comedy would not feel that way! Americans watching Chinese comedy also completely don’t understand.


Only after Chinese people go to America can they develop their intelligence and talent, whereas in China, they will always be tramps.sign


Sigh, how come I didn’t understand a single line… cry


Hu cares.

Joe Wong, Chinese-American comedian, on "Late Show with David Letterman".

Funny men. chinaSMACK personals.

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  • IC

    His joke is for people with high IQ to enjoy. Low end of IQ has trouble understanding the funny relation between points he presents.

    • Gaaad!!!

      What!!! You’re saying journalist are dumb people??? Never!!!

  • His bit on Letterman was good :

    As someone who has listened to stand-up comics all his life, I have to say his delivery works, straight and dry, it catches you off guard. He’s still new at it, but I could see him polish up his act and become a player.

  • nailinPalin

    i like his fresh off the boat style. kinda like the chinese uncle who wears a business suit with sneakers. i think that’s a big part of his appeal

  • Not bad, but unfortunately for Joe Wang there are now two types of RTCA Dinner speakers: Those named Stephen Colbert, and everyone else.

    • Obviously, nothing will equal the laughter in the discomfort of others during Colbert’s appearance. But then again, Colbert’s personae was perfectly suited for that occasion (and time).

      • Well, maybe they can find a hilarious right wing comic to come in and roast Obama. The only problem I see is that there are so many to choose from, must be hard to decide on just one.

        • Rick in China

          Didn’t you see all the humor presented at the last big RNC convention? Where the main joke was about Obama using a teleprompter?

          I think it was shortly before Palin made teleprompter jokes, and then was caught in the next interview reading scribble off of her palm.

        • The Blue Collar comedy guys? Jesus, it might be worth it just to see them awkwardly trying NOT to say something offensive.

          • If you hate Obama because the color of his skin makes you uncomfortable…. You might be a redneck!

  • lxjx

    I find it’s pretty funny. Some laughing points need a understanding of American culture, like the Benjamin Franklin bank note, The Second Amendment and The World Series. Some jokes should be able to be appreciated without knowing the content like the book-is-much-better-than-real-person joke, the Nobel Peace Price and the text-messaging-to-enemies ones. Some are just average pedantic jokes like the cure-to-natural-death and the use-Celsius-to-solve-global-warming ones. And his Chinese accent and background are definitely a big plus to his talk show.

  • Jay K.

    fucking hilarious!!! just purely hilarious!!!

  • TheOrz

    He got a few laughs out of me =) Glad to see a Chinese taking up comedy in the US.

  • shengguo

    哈哈哈哈 i love this guy o(≧v≦)o~~

  • Maxim

    OK, not very funny, but it is stand-up, and you couldn’t ask for a lamer crowd.

  • Hongjian

    oh man… this just shows how low and pathetic the standard for entertaining the ordinary Chinese is.

    No wonder that they revered crap like ‘Avatar’, or calling bull-shitting, wannabe-edgy prettyboys like Han Han and his ‘the-neighbors-grass-is-always-greener’-statements as ‘The New Lu Xun’ etc.

    Crap like this should be met with an arrogant smirk and ‘try again next time’, instead of hailing it as ‘intelligent entertaiment for intelligent people such as me’.

    Low standard is low.

    • reader

      >>> …low and pathetic the standard for entertaining the ordinary Chinese is.

      Now that’s funny. I could entertain most foreigners with a bottle of beer and a shiny object.

      • B. Prichard

        As a foreigner, I am appalled by your statement.

        I could be amused by a bottle of beer OR a shiny object. Both might cause me sensory overload.

    • lxjx

      Han Han as ‘The New Lu Xun’? I thought he writes for Fox News.

      Wait, I shouldn’t say so since that would be an insult.

  • Fake Popcorn

    To understand his punchlines, you have to understand American politics and pop cultures. This guy had it down meaning he understood everything and what’s amazing is that he’s out of place or doesn’t fit in. Take a look at his audience.

    I love it. It was funny as hell.

  • 123meeeee

    that was not funny.

    • andeli

      I didn’t get it

      • ahaha, you have the people with the low IQ, here.

        IC says:
        Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm

        His joke is for people with high IQ to enjoy. Low end of IQ has trouble understanding the funny relation between points he presents.

        • 123meeeee

          i understood everything he said, his jokes where very easy to understand, which is mainly why i didnt enjoy them. his delivery was also poor.

          i dont get what u mean with high IQ. he is chinese u know?

        • andeli

          No No I don’t mean Joe Wong. I mean the post from fake popcorn and down.

  • ken

    His english reminds me about the hookers you meet on Hengshang Road in Shanghai

  • I find funny that the translator used “米国” for the US.

    • Pete

      Yeah…those characters are sometimes used in Japanese to mean the US.

      • Yeah I know those characters are often used in Japanese, actually I thought it was the official way to write “US” in Japanese. Is it?

        But it’s the first time I see that in Chinese.

        • Pete

          I don’t know about which is the official Japanese writing for “US”, but according to Wikipedia 米国 is old fashioned. アメリカ is another way which just matches the pronunciation in English.

  • skeeball

    I bet if they did it 相声 xiàngsheng (crosstalk) style they’d all get it.

  • Pete

    Anyone notice that at 9:24 the subtitles have ‘三克油’ as a “translation” for ‘thank you’?
    No wonder the Chinese commenters were baffled….wondering why they didn’t get the joke about the small quantity of oil very much.

    • Pete

      Just noticed there are a lot more like this…transliterations rather than translations in the subtitles.
      Could this be why a lot of the Chinese responses were that they didn’t understand the jokes?
      Anyone who is fluent in both languages care to comment about the accuracy of the subtitles?

      • lxjx

        The translator obviously tried to add his/her sense of humor to the Chinese script for the sake of Chinese audience since a literal translation would be too dry and even less funnier to people who don’t have the background. 三克油 is one example, 三颗药喂你妈吃 (thank you very much, or ‘feed three pills to your mum to eat’ literally) in the middle of the skit is another one. Some of them wouldn’t sound funny if they were translated back into English, like the translation of Obama to 小黑 which means ‘little black’. That would be inappropriate in a public talk even it’s comedy? However, it does contribute to the dramatic effect of I-envy-Americans-anything-can-be-said in Chinese.

        Anyway, let’s not translate the Chinese script back to English and keep the additional fun in Youku circle. God knows what they will mutate to in the ears of English readers who are not familiar with the foulmouthed and voluptuary Chinese Internet culture. LOL

        • Pete

          Sure, but the translator adding his own jokes is misleading. It means that the Chinese people relying on the subtitles are getting a completely different show. So they’re commenting about how he can say anything he likes and how they don’t understand the jokes. He’s not actually saying a lot of the stuff they think he is.
          I don’t know if subtitle writers have any sort of secret code, but putting in your own material by changing or adding meaning has got to be against it. And trying to make ‘thank you’ funny seems really unnecessary, anyway.

          • lxjx

            You are right. The translation is inaccurate and the script is misleading. After all the translator is just an English learner (as s/he wrote at the end of the video) and it’s uploaded to a video site full of stupid skits and nonsense comments (like youtube), I don’t think most folks will treat it seriously — they came, they laughed and most of them will probably forget about it in few weeks — there wouldn’t be permanent damage to anyone.

            If you think it’s a serious violation, go sign up in the site and voice your concern in the comment area.

    • Pete

      At 9:43 he simply says “America is number one” but the subtitles say “美国是第一,美国是老大,美国战无不胜” (America is number one, America is the leader, America is invincible).
      Is the subtitler taking the piss for this whole thing?

  • bobiscool

    Okay, with a 100% chinese background, fluent in chinese (speaking/listening wise), and having lived in Canada for over half my life, I did not find this funny at all.

    Not even a bit.

    • bobiscool

      Oh and by the way, I’ve listened to many other comedians, and watch the comedy network. Every single one of them were more funny than him.

      Except maybe Rick mercer.

      • bobiscool

        Okay, I just watched the whole thing. He’s pretty good at the end. But the start really ruined it. I mean How could anyone understand his joke about “hu” if they didn’t know him? I didn’t get it. His name has nothing to do with Hu…

        Yeah. Maybe he’ll polish off his speeches eventually. But now, not so good. His accent also gets in the way at times.

        • Zhegezhege

          bobiscool just had a conversation with himself.

  • I wish there are more people like him – most foreigners think that Chinese don’t have a sense of humor.

    • Do we think that? Maybe I’m not in the majority? I’ve never had problems getting Chinese friends, students, or audiences to laugh–thus never had the impression that Chinese were humorless. The average laowai on the street can probably get people to laugh just by walking along in a fairly mundane fashion.

      There might be a distinction to make between thinking that the Chinese don’t have a sense of humor and thinking that the comedy programs on Chinese TV aren’t very funny, however. And there again we can see the problems with not being able to understand why something is supposed to be funny. Foreign audiences watching Dashan do crosstalk would be just as mystified, probably, as these Chinese audiences were when watching Joe Wong’s stand up performance.

  • Zhegezhege

    All you dudes comparing the guy to Colbert, that’s not fair really! It’s like saying a metal band are wimps because their debut show didn’t have quite as much fatal violence as Monsters of Rock, Moscow 91. Colbert’s performance was a top comedian blasting that criminal Bush with some of the shit liberals and socialists had wanted to say to Dubya’s smirking face for years. It’ll go down in history.

    Joe Wong was good. I liked the bit where he deadpanned “that was their slogan” to the audience after mentioning Yes We Can to Biden.

    The comedian from a rival country has come a long way! I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t have time for a tribute to Yakov Smirnov, though: in Communist China, you blast comedian!

  • Humor is a funny thing (no pun intended, really). Back when I was in Chongqing, ‘cold jokes’ were the trendy style of humor. (Perhaps they still are?).

    I was telling one of my young students about days of yore (when I first came to China): myself and a co-worker were riding bikes into our apartment complex one night and found that the street lights had been turned off by management. We spotted some elderly folk on the path, doing exercises or strolling as elderly folk are wont to do. My command of Chinese being quite poor at the time, I shouted: “Xiaoxin! Women meiyou yanjing!” or (Careful! We have no eyes!) in attempt to make them stay out of our way as we careened towards them in the conditions of poor visibility.

    Now, to me, this story was a self-deprecating joke concerning my terrible command of Chinese. The student, however, was convulsed with laughter, saying it was the coldest cold joke she’d ever heard. I guess that means that paradoxically, she thought it was hilarious because of just how *unfunny* it was.

    Just an example of the gap between cultures and how that affects our views of humor.

    • Pete

      You had time to shout a sentence but not enough time to apply the breaks?

  • amrikaans

    Im an Indonesian, & most Asians know we got really different sense of humor between east & west, MY THOUGHT IS, western jokes r sux N NOT FUNNY!

  • some of jokes are very funny and ironic

  • David Thooi

    He is just another clown from China in the eyes of the foreigners and us, the foreign Chinese (外国华侨).

    Chinese from Mainland China are still very far behind their counterparts living outside China, in terms of all areas.

    There are just too many idiots among the 1.3 billion of Chinese in Mainland China who cannot think rationally.

    • 華僑

      Although he assumes a stereotypical nerdy Asian persona on stage for cheap laughs he offers more than that. Joe also makes poignant, insightful jokes about socio-political, cultural issues. Obviously Joe is a smart man. If you fail to see that, you are an idiot. There are way too many pretentious arrogant idiots like you among overseas Chinese. Your self-esteem is based on your affinity to the west and you despise your own roots. Let me give you a hint: no matter how hard you try, you will never be white and if you see your “whiteness” as a badge of status, you will always be second class.

      • David Thooi

        Come on, think outside the box and get yourself out of that nutshell!

        You have all the typical trademarks of any Mainland Chinese i.e selfishness, backward, revengeful, regressive and corrupt.

        Unless one discards that Mainland Chinese culture, success in life always remains a dream.

        • 華僑

          You make no sense and your English is awkward and stilted. You need remedial English. The only explanation for your piss poor English is that you are a FOB. FOB or not, there are way too many self loathing, Western worshiping Chinese like you.

          Because you live overseas now that somehow makes you superior to mainland Chinese? Now you are entitled to be racist towards the Chinese like a Westerner? News flash dickwad, you will always be a little yellow monkey to them.

          What about Joe Wong’s stand-up routine makes you think he is an idiot incapable of rational thinking??

          What about my comment makes you think I am selfish or corrupt?

          You are projecting a lot of negative views about the Chinese in general, typical negative characterizations by Westerners, onto Joe Wong and my post. And that is exactly what I am addressing. You are a self-loathing, Western worshiping sellout.

          • David Thooi

            Brush up your poor English. What you have written are chunks of rubbish!

          • lolz

            LOL. David Thooi writes like a typical Taiwan douchebag.

          • justgettingsoyasauce

            ??? What makes you think we see Chinese in this way? There are lots of Chinese in Canada and nobody treats them like second class citizens or shouts “NI HAO HAHAHA!” at them. Come to “the west” before you project your own self-loathing. Nobody dislikes the Chinese half as much as the Chinese do.

  • shanghai girl

    very funny! surpised i haven’t heard of him before…

    as for some people not laughing at some parts, i think its the result of a ‘political correctness’ or PC issue going on in the states.
    People who grew up in any kind of adversity can laugh about it now, and many got through tough times with jokes and such to make light of rough situations. So those people can laugh it up when they here about others joking about difficult situations/times. However, people from money who frequently don’t experience the same types of difficulties (as many in the audience probably were) feel it’s impolite or “un-PC” to laugh at jokes that have race, poverty, injustice, etc, as a background.
    Also, some jabs might have felt a little ‘too close to home’ being about their elected officials. Even though he started by making fun of himself, some people don’t like the role reversal…

    just my thoughts on it…

  • Nikilodian

    Joe’s performance is overall a good thing-first of all he’s funny, and second because it’s introducing Americans to mainland Chinese immigrants. Not sure what the percentage of university students are Chinese in the US but in Canada every campus has its share (and like other posters before pointed out, don’t integrate at all). Let everyone see a growing face of the country and get used to it and help them integrate.

  • Bosco

    Typical Chinese…

  • Jing

    I have to say, someone like me, born in mainland China in the 80s, living in Euro for over 8 years, have understood his jokes very well. Of course, his Chinese accent may not be easy to be understood, but if you are Chinese who can read the subtitle, then you will see many things he’s said are spot-on!!! Joe Wong, you’ve made my day!!!!!!!!!!

  • lolz

    I don’t think people know this but Joe Wang’s real name is Xi Huang. The guy has a phd in molecular biology and his daytime job involves cancer research.

    So yes this guy appears to be nerdy and stereotypical FOB, but that’s likely his actual persona. Unlike other comedians, this guy does have a day job which commands some respect. He is also pretty funny for a research scientist.

  • AncientSecret

    Isn’t it great that in America this guy can make jokes about Vice President Biden, standing just two meters from Biden (the second most powerful man in America who would become leader if Obama got seriously sick or died), and Biden laughs too because he realizes there is truth to the joke? If Obama were there he would have been laughing too. This guy did some good political jokes. It is very rare to get a standing ovation at this event because these people are so jaded it is hard to make them laugh. They stood and cheered to show him they think he is very clever, smart, funny, and truthful. If you didn’t understand a single joke? You’ve spent your entire life in China. You are cut off from the world in so many ways that you don’t even realize.

  • chenxi1963

    funny… I like it…

  • Marco

    Overall not bad! He’s quite courageous. Kudos to Xi Huang!

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