Saturday Night Live: US satire comes to China – but will the government see the funny side?

 

Beijing

A popular online video site is bringing the irreverent, topical humour of Saturday Night Live to China.

The late-night US comedy sketch show that regularly mocks politicians, popular culture and celebrities is being shown exclusively on the website of Sohu Video. But in China where criticism of leaders is censored, many are wondering how much of the show they will be allowed to see.

The NBC network show has been a comedy proving ground since its inception with Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell among its cast over the years. Many of its original sketches and musical performances have been made into movies, including the 1992 hit Wayne’s World, or gone viral online.

The show has featured China on occasion, including a sketch of a press conference with then Chinese President Hu Jintao berating President Barack Obama over the national debt. But Sohu Chairman and CEO Charles Zhang said he didn’t expect the show’s edgy themes to get them into trouble in China.

“Things that are controversial in America are probably not controversial in China,” he said. “And this talk show is in the spirit of fun and humour. I don’t think there will be any problem.” Chinese films and TV shows are routinely censored to prevent criticism of leaders or socially sensitive content, including sexually suggestive humor. SNL often tests those boundaries.

Ten episodes from the current 39th season of SNL are available now. Future episodes will be available online without subtitles the Monday after airing in the US, and a version with Chinese subtitles and explanations of cultural references will be available at 10pm the following Saturday, Sohu Video said on Thursday.

Mr Zhang said the show, if popular in China, could inspire Chinese companies to produce shows with similar formats, although content was another matter. “It’s a different political setting,” he said at a news conference, also attended by American stand-up comedian Joe Wong and Beijing-born TV host and musician Kelly Cha. Sohu Video’s site, like many other Chinese online video sites, licenses many hit US TV shows alongside Japanese animation series, Chinese variety shows and in-house programmes. Sohu’s early US programmes were Lost and The Big Bang Theory, and last year it obtained the exclusive online broadcast rights for the second season of hit reality show The Voice of China, which had 2 billion video views, claims the company.

China’s government restricts foreign access to the country’s television audience and bars most of its cable operators from carrying foreign channels. Online video provides more access for foreign productions.

Unlike a few years ago, most of the Western TV shows and movies found on Chinese websites today are licensed, although pirated content still exists. Zhang welcomed an announcement this week from a government agency labelling China’s largest search engine, Baidu Inc., and software company QVOD the top two copyright violators last year. The National Copyright Administration of China fined both firms 250,000 yuan ($40,000). They had linked to websites hosting infringed content.

AP

 

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam