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My brief moment in British-Chinese media

My brief moment in British-Chinese media

Surfing through the Media Guardian, I see that there have been 100 complaints from viewers regarding the title of a C4 show on the invisiblity of British-Chinese folk in the media. The title, of course being The Missing Chink. (Oh, and with my current up-and-down life, I’ve missed all the episodes thus far – can someone lend me a copy ?!)

The sheer number of complaints shows one funadmental problem with the British/Chinese community – the inability to really laugh at ourselves. We take ourselves *far* too seriously, especially at Chinese wedding banquets where nobody really smiles. The same problem arguably rears its head with the Welsh community, although we’ll see what happens when ITV’s Mine All Mine is finally released.

I used to work with the two presenters Paul Courtenay Hyu (also known as the Chinese Elvis – charming but very actor/producerly so not quite of my world) and Paul Chan (nice guy) on a embryonic Chinese-British comedy sketch troupe. After throwing out titles such as “Ho Ho Fun”, the compromise title was Mu-Lan’s Frying Circus. So the love of puns is still alive and well.

We first met for 10 Sunday-afternoon lessons on comedy in some rehersal studio near Chinatown, where i rapidly learnt that in terms of stand-up/sketch writing, I’m as funny as a dead duck flying down Tumbleweed City. Still, they never kicked me out (safety in numbers I guess).

We had our gala performance at Canary Wharf, and then mostly went our seperate ways thanks to over-inflated egos, then-outrageous financial arrangements, and probably because our sketches weren’t that good – and even if they were, some of them did seem a bit too “Laugh at silly orientals doing silly things” instead of “Laugh with …”

Only one sticks in my head now – that old student staple, re-written lyrics to Copacabana, and as a consequence, I can no longer hear that cursed song again. And there were far too many “nods” (read – blatant steals) to Goodness Gracious Me. There was one two-hander between two actresses (one of whom was married to an Only Fools And Horses director if memory serves) which was very Victoria Wood in places, and I’m still saying “Oy vey” at inopportune moments 5 years on. And no, I’m not remotely bitter that none of my far-too-long-and-unfunny sketches (one involving a hairdresser from hell) actually made it to production.

Still, according to the website, Henry Norman/Steve Coogan’s production company are taking it to pilot. So maybe I just never spotted it. Or maybe it’s less about the writing and more about living the actor/producer scene life and schmoozing.

Aside from the thing brutually proving my limitations in the meeja world darling, it is so far my one introduction to the world of melodrama that is actors, producers and traditional media. And I’d love to do it again. Except now I’m in Cardiff. Oh well.

7 Comments

  • It depends on the context of it. If it’s a white swine calling me Chinky, yes I’ll punch the little twat.

    But if it’s used by two Chinese comedians ironically in an (admittedly pathetic) pun to make a point about the invisibility of the Chinese in the media, I’d let it slide. I’d probably suggest they use a different phrase but that’s another matter entirely.

    It’s the insult behind the word that’s damaging, not the word itself.

  • George

    We see more of that chinese cook from Yang Sing on the box esp when up comes Lunar New Year.True the Underwoods seem like the ones most viewed by sports fans but better views of Vanesa Mae even if its not true orient genes.
    Geo

  • Sometimes I wish I were Chinese, just because it is not otherwise politically correct to say "chinky" and I like saying "chinky". Maybe I'll break some China just so I can say "this china is all chinky." But that seems both inflammatory and redundant. I apologize.

  • Yes, because us Chinese always greet each other with "Yo, Chinky".

    I don't think so. Term reclamaition has not hit the Chinese community yet 😉

  • matthew barry

    hi, you talk about mine all mine, due to transmit on itv this year – wot do you mean by this? are you talking about it in relation to its ability to take the piss out of it's self i.e. the welsh?

  • Linda Lee

    How can you belittle yourself as you dont mind the word 'Chinky'. I've been bought up with ppl calling me 'chinky' yes I was bullied, but to let yourself be called or to call yourself that? I think its offending, to yourself, to your family, to your generation, to the whole of the Chinese race.

    Yes, I can take the piss out of myself and our race, but I won't stoop so low to call myself and our race Chinky… ever.

    Hey, I'm 21, I have an opinion if you dont like it bugger you or e-mail me, what??? I love being Chinese, speaking 2 languages and 2 different dialects is cool, we can talk about 'gwai low' behind thier backs or in front of them and they wont have a clue what we're saying (I do it all the time… oh he's 'leng zay'!!! Looking forward to it.

    Btw…This websites quite good…quite impressed! ^_^xxx

  • Mine, All Mine could be perceived as a jokey look at the Welsh. Hell, it is.

    Some will get offended by it since Welsh comedy isn't exactly an easily-established genre that everyone, including the Welsh, laugh at.

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