An article in The Economist, about female comedians, prompted the title of this blog: China – There’s Hope?
Western-style stand-up comedy appeared in China less than a decade ago. Since then, the phenomenon has taken off. Perhaps surprisingly, it has also become an accessible art form for female comedians. In a society where government control is pervasive that’s rather surprising. Unfortunately, I’m sure the first derogatory joke about Xi Jinping will bring an end to that accessibility immediately. On the other hand, perhaps, in today’s China, there’s hope.
The jokes are certainly measured at the moment. Yang Li begins her routine with, “Men are adorable, but mysterious….Afterall, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence.” Hardly cutting edge, but it’s a start.
However, even that level of humor has produced a male backlash. Recently, a group of male netizens (internet citizens) reported Yang Li to the broadcast regulator for “sexism”. Still, she remains one of the stars of the TV Show, “Rock and Roast”, which features amateur comics. An academic, male of course, at Peking University called her, and her admirers, “internet feminists, the most emotional and least tolerable people”.
The TV Show “Rock and Roast” started in 2017 and is still going strong. One hopes, but wonders, how much longer it will be allowed to continue.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, probably until someone breaks the unwritten law that jokes cannot be made against the regime, let alone against the President. The female comedians are playing with fire. They have the situation in Hong Kong as an example of what can happen when any sort of criticism is focused on Bejing’s central control. The Chinese government is not known for its sense of humor.
I wish them all the luck in the world. They deserve unfettered encouragement.