Nigel Ng, a Malaysian comedian known for his Uncle Roger persona, ranked Malaysian cuisine better than Singaporean food in a new interview.
Referring to Singaporeans, Ng, 31, told Singapore-based news outlet The Straits Times, “You guys just do a weird, less good version of what we do [in Malaysia], to be honest.”
This spontaneous ranking was spoken lightheartedly out of national pride. Ng was born in Kuala Lumpur and is Malaysian Chinese with parents of Hokkien heritage. He expresses his nationalism through praise of his home country’s food, often at the expense of Singaporean food.
“Your bak kut teh is pale, it’s transparent. I think there are more similarities than differences, but Malaysia has better food, especially in Penang,” he explained.
Based in London, Ng was a former data scientist who started stand-up comedy in 2011. He quit his day job in 2019 to be a full-time comedian.
When the pandemic canceled all his live shows in 2020, Ng uploaded his first YouTube video criticizing a BBC Food video on egg fried rice as Uncle Roger, which garnered over 30 million views. Uncle Roger is known for his orange polo shirt and criticism of Western attempts at Asian cuisine. He has gone viral multiple times with his comedic criticisms of recipe attempts by famous chefs like Gordon Ramsey and James Oliver. As Ng is a big foodie, he usually calls upon friends in the food industry to show the proper techniques that inform his reactions to the recipe videos.
His alter ego Uncle Roger is also known for his strong Cantonese accent.
“Uncle Roger is not mocking his own people. He’s championing the food and mocking Western culture for getting it wrong,” Ng explained to the Times.
His comment on Singaporean food does not come as a surprise, as the comedian has a history of making statements that spur criticism and controversy.
Ng admitted to the Times that he enjoys creating bold humor that dances dangerously between cultural appreciation and appropriation: “I think the more serious something is, the more you should joke about it. It breaks the tension. If you can make something very contentious funny, that’s very rewarding.”
Ng has come to accept the feedback, saying, “if the intention is to be funny with it, then everything goes. And you also have to accept the comments.”
Ng is currently on his “The Haiyaa World Tour,” with Uncle Roger opening every act.