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Identity crisis

Identity crisis

I’ve always wanted to be a stand-up comedian. But after doing a mini-course on it and being part of a British-Chinese comedy sketch troupe, I’ve been aware that I have zero perfomance skills, and gave up on the idea, while trying in vain to groom my wife for the job.

And then I stumbled across Andrew Wong the stand-up comedian. He’s British, and at least half my age. Fortunately, he’s not a professional – but at the same time, his YouTube channel is the 19th most subscribed channel in the British comedian category.

However, I’m too far in to tell if he’s actually funny or not. Is he?

There’s also an Andrew Wong who was a ninja contestant on Australia’s Got Talent … who got mistaken for another Andrew Wong with suspected benefit fraud. Apparently.

Learn how to read the Chinese menu

Learn how to read the Chinese menu

Chinese Christmas dinner Despite being genetically Chinese, I have no idea how to read off the Chinese menu. So I’m reduced to ordering off the English menu – which is fine and great, but vaguely-remembered childhood delicacies are rather beyond me.

So thank goodness for kake’s guide on learning how to read off the Chinese menu, which I will study with great interest. And then never have the courage to use – because what self-respecting Chinese person doesn’t know how to order off the Chinese menu? And if I get it a little wrong, I’ll feel far more embarassed than if I’d never tried in the first place.

Incidentally, while searching for an appropriate video, I found a ton of videos which basically show white and non-white people talking fluent Cantonese. Why ?! I mean, I find it oddly fascinating but surely not everyone else does? We don’t see videos of Chinese speakers speaking English (or Russian) with aplomb…

One rule for Chinese comedians, another for Iranian ones?

One rule for Chinese comedians, another for Iranian ones?

I have occasionally dreamt of being a stand-up comedian – oh, the fame! the groupies! The nights of travelling up and down the M1 at 2am before parking in a dodgy service station! – and have therefore occasionally pondered on what my opening line would be.

Omid Djalili‘s opening gambit was to come on and be a generic Middle Eastern stereotype, fulfilling various national stereotypes before turning it all in on itself. And I’d figured if it’s good enough for him, it’d be good enough for me. (Aside from the fact I can’t do impersonations to save my life).

So I was surprised to read on the BBC Arts’ Editor’s report on comedy that Joanne Lau, a Canadian-Chinese comedian, was taken to task on comedy review site Chortle for doing pretty much the same thing in her opening act. And that she’s had to change it as a result.

I don’t particularly remember anyone taking Omid to task for doing the same thing when he started out, and it seems to have worked for him. Any particular reason for this discrepancy?

Inside a Hong Kong village…

Inside a Hong Kong village…

Apparently, Hong Kong is all a twitter about the sit-in demonstrations (complete with riot police and pepper spray) that have been taking place as the Hong Kong Legislative Council rubber-stamped a decision to build a high-speed railway line through Hong Kong to China, demolishing ancient villages in the process. (Interestingly, the official Chinese news state agency thinks the protestors barely deserve half a sentence in their report).

Anyway, cnngo.com had a photo-essay featuring the village at the heart of the railway line, and it’s rather striking how it looks an awful lot like the village my parents grew up. Even if I haven’t been back there in 20 years.

Oh, while we’re here, 50 reasosn why Hong Kong is fab. Now if only I spoke Cantonese…

My Chinese Christmas dinner

My Chinese Christmas dinner




Chinese Christmas dinner

Originally uploaded by almost witty

While you all prepare to tuck into your cliched turkey & cranberry Christmas dinner and bemoan that it’s the same meal every year, bear in mind that I wish, that just for one tiny year, that I could have a turkey & cranberry dinner with all the trimmings. Especially roast potatoes!

Not because it’s particularly tasty – any meat that dry should belong in the Sahara, surely? – but because when my parents do Christmas dinner, it’s … rather different. Fantastically tasty, and as with all home-cooked food it’s heartwarming and fantastic, but for once, I’d like to try a turkey’n’cranberry dinner that wasn’t mass-cooked in a canteen or microwaved in a local pub.

They’ll probably cook the same sort of thing this year, but I really must ask how they produce all that food…

White people playing Chinese roles…

White people playing Chinese roles…

I’m not particularly up to date with racial and theatrical politics, but I thought it was generally widely accepted that you don’t hire white people to play non-white roles when there are perfectly good non-white actors to play said roles…. right?

Apparently not. Madam Miaow works up a firestorm of a rant in pointing out that More Light at the Arcola Theatre (written by Bryony Lavery and directed by Catrina Lear) is casting white women as Chinese women. What makes it deliciously ironic is that it’s about … the burial of Chinese women. And of course, none of the theatre reviewers have even noticed.

It’s been a long time since I even dabbled in the world of Chinese actors/actresses and theatre but I … just thought you ought to know. Not too sure what people can do about it – for the fourth largest ethnic minority in the UK, the people in power are remarkably blase when it comes to applying the same rules for Chinese people/roles as they would do to white/black/Asian roles…

Is making fun of someone's pronounciation racist?

Is making fun of someone's pronounciation racist?

A work blogger I respect recently made a joke about their local Chinese takeaway mixing their Ls and their Rs when making a mythical dish. The in-house work magazine recently pointed out a menu slip-up meaning that a dish was described as “Lice” instead of rice, not noting that the two letters are very very far apart on the keyboard.

Naturally, that’s immediately raised my hackles and slightly offended me, but I can’t decide if it’s racist or not. On one hand, people do impersonations of Polish or Birmingham accents all the time. On the other hand, said jokes wouldn’t work if you were attributing them to a Turkish takeaway.

Then again, my native-Chinese mandarin teacher habitually mixes up her Ls and her Rs, which rather rankles with me internally. Oh, and the cartoon illustrations in the textbook she uses helpfully distinguish Chinese people by giving them slanted eyes.

*sigh* Oh it’s so confusing. But I definitely feel a whiff of genuine offence.

What is there to do in Cardiff?

What is there to do in Cardiff?

A friend of mine is planning a visit to Cardiff, and asked me what there was to do there. And despite living there for five years, I couldn’t think of anything in Cardiff beyond the Castle, the Wales Millennium Centre, and Cardiff Bay (which is just a glorified upper-class entertainment mall) that was great and unique to Cardiff. So all I could suggest was the BBC Doctor Who Locations Guide (I made that!).

Have you got any suggestions?

While we’re on the subject, see what happens when a Chinese chef and a Welsh chef decide to make beautiful food together. Although I’m wondering what they CAN come up with…

Is making a slitty-eyed gesture racist?

Is making a slitty-eyed gesture racist?

Spanish basketball team pictured with slitty-eyed gesture

To recap, the Spanish basketball team pose for a pre-Olympic-Games advert making slit-eyed gestures in one of Spain’s major newspapers. Freelance Madrid-based journalist Sid Lowe points this out in the Guardian, spreading the story everywhere else with predictable outrage in English-speaking media.

To which the Spanish wonder what the fuss is about. The Spanish-language paper El Mundo debates whether the advert was racist, and accuses the British press of trying to smear Spain’s good name. One Spanish basketballer apologises, saying “It’s wrong to interpret it as racist.”, while the head coach says “I don’t think it was offensive”.

Now, brilliantly, the original journalist who filed the report has filed a piece defending himself against accusations that he had a hidden agenda, pointing out that he never said it was racist. Of course, if you see someone carrying an umbrella, you don’t wonder if it’s raining or not.

Oh, and here’s the Spanish tennis team making a similar gesture. Interestingly, a random sampling of Chinese people in Beijing suggests they aren’t that bothered – but then they don’t have the history of racial harassment.

My ideal job – eight years ago

My ideal job – eight years ago

Why does something tell me that nothing like this would happen over here?

MTV are looking for Chinese-Americans aged 18-24 with a “golden” personality. Somehow, I doubt that’d ever happen over here!

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