Analysis of Russell Peters’ Chinese Languages

*contains profanity and racist slurs


Russell Peters is a stand up comedian known for his racial and ethnic based humour and his skit The Difference Between Cantonese and Mandarin is an example of the black and observational comedy that he excels in. Peters begins this particular segment by narrating his adventure in China, through the use of an anecdote. He starts off by sharing his method of differentiating between the two languages and how Mandarin is less harsh and abrasive compared to Cantonese. Peters explains this through the use of an accent where he imitates both languages in an exaggerated, satirical manner.

He then continues discussing his experience in China and informs the audience of how a certain phrase spoken in Beijing is similar to, and easily confused with, a racist profanity or slur aimed towards Negro people, more commonly known as, “nigga”. Referring to his travels in China, Peters adds that during a visit to a KFC fast food restaurant, he saw a Black woman in line. Waiting for the humour to sink in, he summarises with a smirk, “The only black woman in China, and she found the chicken. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t make the stereotypes, I just see them.”

This skit based on the two major Chinese languages, Cantonese and Mandarin, is a humorous one that utilises many key comedic techniques. It is an excellent representation of Russell Peters’ work and the particular kind of observational and black comedy for which he is known.


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