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Chinese comedian charming US audiences

[ 2009-06-10 13:35]     字号 [] [] []  
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Joe Wong is like many new Chinese immigrants in the United States: He has an advanced degree and a full-time job during the day. But where he stands out is that he has a second job as a stand-up comedian who is gaining popularity throughout the country.

Wong recently made his TV network debut on CBS' Late Show With David Letterman - the hugely popular US late-night talk show - with dead-pan delivery on immigrants, family life and driving.

Wong, who is slim, of medium height and wears glasses, started off with: "I am Irish." The audience burst into laughter at his reference to a people who are well-known raconteurs and often the butt of jokes.

"He really has it in him," said Eddie Brill, the talent coordinator for the Letterman Show who booked Wong for the set. "I am really proud of him and have never seen a comedian who did so well in his first performance on a television show."

Wong, who was born in Baishan, Jilin province, moved to the US in 1994 to pursue a PhD in chemistry at Rice University in Texas.

Back then, he was one of the many Chinese students struggling to learn English.

"At the beginning, I really just wanted to express myself well," said the Boston-based 39-year-old, whose Chinese name is Huang Xi. "I noticed that for some reason people here just didn't expect me to tell jokes. I wanted to break this stereotype."

The idea of becoming a comedian took hold in 2001 after he moved to Boston from Houston when his company closed down.

After six sessions of evening comedy classes, Wong had his first "open mic" (a live show where people get a chance to perform at the microphone) doing stand-up comedy in a small Boston bar in 2002.

"I was nervous as hell and can't remember what jokes I actually told," he said, adding the experience led him to realize his accent was the biggest problem.

Wong, a researcher at a pharmaceutical company during the day, performs three to four shows a week in the evenings. His performances range from five-minute "open mics" to 90-minute stand-up routines in clubs and bars.

In October, he is scheduled to perform in China, including Beijing and Shanghai.


1. What show did Joe Wong make his television debut on?

2. Why did Wong move to the US in 1994?

3. What is an “open mic”?


1. Late Show With David Letterman.

2. To pursue a PhD in chemistry at Rice University in Texas.

3. A live show where people get a chance to perform at the microphone.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Chinese comedian charming US audiences

About the broadcaster:

Chinese comedian charming US audiences

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.