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First impressions count

By Xu Lin (Xinhua)

08:45, May 17, 2012

Michael Stephen Kai Sui has become an overnight celebrity after posting his one-man show online. (China Daily Photo)

American Michael Stephen Kai Sui has become a Chinese Internet phenomenon by releasing videos of himself imitating people from around the world. Xu Lin reports in Beijing.

Michael Stephen Kai Sui, 27, never expected he would become an overnight celebrity after posting his one-man show online. In the nine-minute video, he depicts 12 characters from countries and regions including China, the United States, Japan and Russia, while vividly imitating their accents. Sui, known as Mike Sui online, first posted his videos on April 27 and they have attracted nearly 5.17 million hits. He also has 480,000 fans on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like micro-blogging service.

"I'm glad that people like it. I just want to show my sense of humor and talent - I can do different accents," says Sui, who has a Chinese father and an American mother.

Sui doesn't have a fixed job. He teaches English, hosts events and has made a couple of film appearances, earning about 10,000 yuan ($1,560) a month when he has a job.

He says he has a feel for what Chinese audiences like because he has lived in Beijing for a long time and has many Chinese friends.

The Chinese character in the video is Li Lei, who talks about his girlfriend Han Meimei in Chinglish. The two are well-known names because they are characters from China's English textbooks for middle school students.

In the video's introduction, he refers to himself as a laowai diaosi - a foreigner because he looks white, while diaosi is a new Internet buzzword meaning "loser".

He says he lives with his mom because he has no money to rent a place.

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