Why was Uncle Roger banned in China?

Uncle Roger China ban standup comedy

As a part of their recent crackdown on comedians, China has banned Nigel Ng, better known to the internet as Uncle Roger. The comedian’s Chinese social media accounts have been suspended. The ban comes after Uncle Roger posted a promo for his upcoming show in which he mocked China’s authoritarian government. The clip has now gone viral on social media platforms. 

The London-based Malaysian comedian posted the clip last Tuesday and joked that he was “about to get cancelled.” The video led to the suspension of his Weibo and Bilibili accounts – China’s equivalents of Twitter and YouTube. His 400k-followers-strong Weibo account showed a message that the user had been banned for violating regulations. This raises concerns over the restrictions imposed by Beijing on comedians and their creative expression.

China bans Uncle Roger over standup comedy joke

Uncle Roger’s controversial standup comedy clip involved a conversation with an audience member from Guangzhou, China. The comedian sarcastically complimented the country and joked about Beijing monitoring them through smartphones. 

He also mocked President Xi Jinping and joked about his “social credit score going up”. Later, Uncle Roger brought up the topic of Taiwan, stating that it is “not a real country”. This aligns with China’s foreign policy.

Finally, Nigel requests the man from Guangzhou to put in a good word for him with the authorities. He said, “Uncle Roger good comrades” and appealed not to be made to disappear.

Uncle Roger’s suspension from Weibo and Bilibili coincides with the approaching release of his full stand-up show. The June 4 release date marks the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on democracy protesters. This is a highly sensitive period for Chinese authorities.

Uncle Roger’s previous Chinese controversy

While China has banned Uncle Roger, this isn’t his first encounter with their strict media environment. Earlier this year, he collaborated with YouTuber Mike Chen, a vocal critic of the Chinese government.

Uncle Roger Mike Chen China ban
Uncle Roger and Mike Chen (Image courtesy of Coconuts)

In a video, they critiqued a dumpling recipe together. However, Nigel removed it soon and issued an apology on Weibo for being unaware of Chen’s political views and remarks against China.

Nigel rose to fame as Uncle Roger three years ago on YouTube when comically criticized BBC host Jamie Oliver’s egg fried rice recipe. His popularity has since soared, but he now finds himself at the center of Beijing’s efforts to regulate comedy.

China’s crackdown on comedians and free speech

Uncle Roger’s ban in China is not an isolated incident. Just last week, Chinese comedian Li Haoshi was arrested for making a joke that compared his dogs to a military slogan.

Furthermore, this agency faced a hefty fine of 14.7 million yuan ($2.1 million). Pushing comedic boundaries in the country can lead to dire consequences. Despite issuing an apology, Li Haoshi still faces up to three years in prison.

The ban on Uncle Roger’s Chinese social media accounts shows how sensitive the Chinese government is towards comedy and free speech. It’s an alarming situation for anyone trying to cross political red lines with their opinions and jokes within China’s media landscape.

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