China’s Seinfeld creates laughs online – meet Papi Jiang

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This week, online comedian Papi Jiang received funding from a businessman to spread her online videos at little further.  Jiang has quickly created a curious level of fame based on her comedic online videos.

In the context of China’s restricted media environment, Papi Jiang has, like Seinfeld, created laughs by talking honestly about everyday, even redundant things.  In her 2-3 minute videos, casually shot in her apartment, Jiang takes on subjects such as the ‘perils of being single in China’, ‘boyfriends’ and the rise of ‘Chinglish’ sentences.

Jiang is a drama student in Beijing but originally hails from Shanghai – so her humour cuts across fans from both North and South China.  Originally posting on her Weibo account (China’s Twitter), she has now expanded her brand of humour to other platforms with an estimated fan base of ten million followers.

Papi Jiang, herself a Chinese millennial at 29, is representative of a generation who have grown up with abstract comedy influences from Japan and Hong Kong, which form a key part of her ironic take on life.

Subjects of her videos include “the most hated questions to deal with during Spring Festival holiday”,  “the ridiculous obsession of Shanghai-nese to needlessly include English in their sentences”, “the best times to avoid a breakup” and “a sarcastic reading of inevitable personalities that will pop up in your WeChat group”.   Jiang also challenges linguistic stereotypes in a funny way, by speaking regional rural dialects with up-market celebrity accents (Northeastern “salt of the earth” in an empheminate accent of Taiwan celebrities ha ha).

To gain a sense of why she is popular – in the following video, Jiang imitates the popularity in Shanghai of adding English words ‘somewhat weirdly’ into everyday sentences.  No translation required to get the gist.  See below and read on to know more about Papi’s content going up for auction.

Papi Jiang goes commercial – last laugh to the highest bidder 

After businessman Luo Zhenyu, a former a television host turned investor, invested in Papi Jiang’s personal brand – things have moved fast.  Today, Luo announced the chance to advertise after Papi’s videos was to go up for auction online.  It was open to the highest bidder, excluding local booze companies, smokes and pharmaceuticals.   Clearly optimistic about ‘Papi Power’, the auction also included screening for bidders, to ensure they had enough capital to pay for the spot, if successful.

Papi Jiang’s sudden rise to fame is a reflection of a local media reality –  growing viewership of online video content, partly in response to increasingly staid nature of local TV content.  It seems Papi is the first of China’s online comedians to become ‘monetised’,  this suggests a model that will grow very quickly – as the content is ‘safe” and gets the laughs for China’s younger netiizens who enjoy a Chinese take on cross-culturalism.

Papi’s style has a similar eclecticism to recent local blockbuster – Lost in Hong Kong – the topic of our recent CSBR Digital Reports.  For this and other great insight, and access to all our reports.  Become a Member.

About Author

Jerry Clode

Jerry Clode is Head of Digital & Social Insight at Resonance. He leads Resonance SMART, providing leading-edge research, strategy and naming for brands in China using bespoke methodologies. Jerry also produces Resonance's popular China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly publication covering modern marketing methods of the world's top brands.

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