A Chinese-born comedian faced backlash from Chinese netizens after her stand-up comedy set on “Australia’s Got Talent” went viral.
He Huang, 32, became an international sensation for her audition on the reality talent show two weeks ago. Audience members and viewers of Huang’s skit have reveled in her series of self-deprecating jokes about her name, marital status, parents and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My name is He. It’s spelled H-E. And that’s it. Yes, it is my name. It’s not my pronoun,” she joked.
Huang also said she was “made in China” before deadpanning about the coronavirus.
“Look guys, I’m really sorry for the COVID,” she says. “I’m sorry for it, but I didn’t do it. I was here the whole time.”
“Last year, I was roaming around the city and this guy just yelled at me, he was like, ‘Yo, go back to China,’” she adds. “I was, like, ‘Sir, there’s no flight.’”
Although Huang’s set garnered millions of views on social media, with many praising her talent, she also received hateful comments from Chinese netizens who were angered by her jokes on taboo topics. Others also hurled personal insults at the comedian, calling her “disgusting” and a “slop bucket.”
“COVID is the suffering of all mankind, you shouldn’t make fun of that,” one Weibo user reportedly wrote.
“I’m mostly getting a lot of negativity,” Huang told Slate. “I think I’m just making jokes, but people are taking it really seriously, especially in China. They’re really offended by me. But, you know, I’m a comedian. Taking hits is part of the job.”
According to the comedian, Chinese netizens were triggered by the idea that she was apologizing for COVID-19 on their behalf. Viewers were also angered by her lines that joked Chinese women were “cheap” and other jokes they say degraded her culture.
“They’re overanalyzing all my jokes and then calling me a disgrace to our culture?” Huang said. “That’s the exact reason why I left China. I’m still seeing a lot of Chinese people posting that I’m a disgrace and that my parents should be ashamed of me. I’m like, ‘Dude, are you guys trying to prove to the world you don’t have a sense of humor?’”
The 32-year-old comedian has a background in politics and policy. She reportedly studied and worked in the U.S. for six years before moving to Australia in 2019.
Huang remains unfazed by the hateful comments and does not plan on changing her jokes to be more cautious.
“I used to think to myself ‘Hmm, are you sure you want to do this joke? Won’t I hurt some Chinese guy or some white guy’s feelings?’” the comedian told Slate. “Now I’m like, ‘Bring it on.’ Why not? They’re going to be mad anyways.”
Ever since going viral, Huang said she has had agents reaching out to her.
“I am already pretty established in Australia in terms of gigs. Before ‘Australia’s Got Talent,’ I had already been booked up until the end of this year, including another TV appearance. I’m pretty hard-working, and I’m doing gigs every night.”
It’s rare for the audience to see a Chinese woman doing comedy, so they give me a lot of love,” she added. “Every booker wants to get me in their room. This industry is not made of the same people hating on me. They love me.”