Jun 13, 2023 - World

Chinese comedian in Taiwan uses humor to fight stereotypes

Chinese comedian Jamie Wang poses for a photo in Taipei.

Chinese comedian Jamie Wang in Taipei, Taiwan, on May 26. Photo: Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian/Axios

As the headliner at a recent Friday night performance at Taipei's bilingual Two Three Comedy Club, Chinese comedian Jamie Wang brought down the house with her deadpan humor and biting sarcasm.

The big picture: Comedy helps her deal with the discrimination and painful stereotypes she faces as a Chinese person in Taiwan, Wang told Axios in an interview.

Details: Wang is originally from Shanghai and has lived in Taipei for six years, where she is also pursuing a master's degree in philosophy.

  • Much of the fodder for her jokes is drawn from her daily life interacting with Taiwanese people, who, she says, often seem to expect her to be "brainwashed and constantly offended."

What she's saying: One of Wang's most popular lines is what she calls her "democracy" joke. She delivered it during her routine at the Two Three Comedy Club to wild laughter and applause.

  • The most common question she receives from Taiwanese people is, "Do you know there's no democracy in China?" Wang says in her routine. "I feel it's quite a mean question because I feel they don't want an answer from me, they just want to point that out to me."
  • "It's kind of like asking an orphan, 'Do you know you don't have parents? ... I have parents though. It's very nice to have parents. I know you cannot have parents. Do you want to have parents?'" Wang continues, pausing in between each sentence for added comic effect.
  • When she uploaded a video of the joke to her Instagram account a few months ago, it went viral.

Between the lines: It's funny because it's true — Wang says Taiwanese people have actually said this to her — and because it's almost absurdly tactless.

  • Wang says she hopes her humor can help Taiwanese people understand that "I'm a human being. You don't need to see me through that one-dimensional politics lens."

Yes, but: Wang likes a lot about Taiwan, including how free and peaceful it is, and how "chill" everyone is. In Shanghai, she says, "everything is so stressful and you will constantly feel like you are competing with people."

  • It's also interesting, she says, "to see how a Chinese-speaking culture functions in another society."
Go deeper