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The Wong way

(Global Times)

10:37, July 11, 2013

"My name is Joe Wong. To most people I am known as Hu (who), which is actually my mother's maiden name and the answer to my credit card security question."

"What is Roe Vs Wade? Two ways of coming to the United States?"

Some people may remember these jokes, coming from the Chinese-American comedian Joe Wong, though, he has been off American television for a while.

Wong became famous three years ago after numerous appearances on afternoon and late-night talk shows as well as the American Music Awards and the 66th Annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner. He is almost a household name in America, and many call him the "Yao Ming of comedy."

Video clips of his performances have become popular in China, too. People know that he is the one that made jokes about Obama and "roasted" the US vice president Joe Biden. It's a genuine mark of success for a comedian, but the question is, what's next?

Back to China

Most fans are familiar with Wong's story by now - how he went to the US in 1994 and studied hard to earn a PhD in biochemistry but then decided to turn away from a career in science to become a stand-up comedian.

Wong faced all kinds of difficulty and rejection when he first started out in the entertainment business, struggling for nearly a decade before his persistence finally paid off.

After becoming famous in the US, he was invited to many universities in China to share his experience, and in 2011 he published his autobiography The Tao of Humor: An Autobiography by Joe Wong.

Wong never thought about becoming such a successful comedian when he first went to the US to study biochemistry. One of his important motivations was that he wanted to put a more public face on his generation of Chinese immigrants. "There are already many Chinese scientists in America but not one comedian," he once expressed to media.

After so many years in the US, Wong did not change his accent but managed to tell his story in a funny way to the audience, becoming one of the few that changed the stereotypical impression of Chinese people.

For Wong, what happened after the Annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner was amazing. He had a never ending calendar packed with show dates and was also looking into producing a TV situation comedy.

On top of that, he is venturing into Chinese territory where stand-up comedy is just emerging.

Now Wong is hosting a TV show called Is it True on CCTV-2. The show clears up popular rumors online and Wong often uses sarcasm to make fun of absurd social phenomenon.

For Wong, this is a great platform for him to learn about TV productions and interact with live audiences. It turns out, however, this style of entertainment is not exactly the thing he is good at.

Wong told the Global Times that the biggest challenge was to bridge the segments, that is to say a few introductory lines before starting the next topic.

"But, it's been 16 episodes so far. I gradually adapted to it," said Wong.

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