Comedian from S'pore facing backlash from M'sians after joking about MH370

Malaysians definitely have internet.

Tan Min-Wei | June 07, 2023, 05:31 PM

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(Editor's note: A previous version of this article erroneously indicated that a suspended Twitter account @chiacomedy belonged to Jocelyn Chia. The suspended account does not belong to Chia.

Furthermore, a statement released by the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 8 has clarified that Chia is no longer Singaporean.)

A comedian from Singapore stand-up set has provoked the wrath of Malaysians after she used the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as a punchline.

Comedy Cellar

Singaporean comedian Jocelyn Chia was performing at the Comedy Cellar, the legendary New York comedy club that launched the careers of Jon Stewart, Dave Chappelle, and Kevin Hart.

But a clip of her making fun of the still missing MH370 aircraft has rubbed Malaysian social media users the wrong way.

@jocelynchiacomedy The funniest part was after my set the host asked the Malaysians how they got it New York and they replied "we flew Singapore Airlines" 😂🇸🇬 @ComedyCellarUSA #malaysia vs #singapore #standup #beef #gotbeef #standupcomedy #jocelynchia #asian #asiancomedy #funny ♬ original sound - Jocelyn Chia

Her set started with her retelling an abridged version of Singapore's independence story, saying that Singapore "in order to survive, we joined a union with a larger more powerful country", implying Malaysia.

This prompted a cheer from the audience, to which Chia asked where the audience member was from.

When he replied "Malaysia", she responded with "Yeah, Malaysia. F*** you a*******", prompting the audience to burst out laughing.

After a cut in the video, she went on to say, "When my prime minister went on TV to announce you guys had dumped us, he cried", referencing the famous broadcast of Lee Kuan Yew crying as he announced separation.

But Singapore had gone from worrying about survival to thriving as a state.

"40 years later, we became a first world country," she said.

"And you guys, Malaysia, what are you now? Still a developing country?", she jokingly mocked. "Awwwwwww, boooooo," she added for good measure.

Screenshot via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok

Cannot fly

After another Malaysia-directed round of profanity, she compared separation to a breakup, saying, "Isn't that the best breakup revenge?"

"Now Malaysia, you're trying to come around like, 'Hey, Singapore, you're looking good lah'."

"And we're like, 'I know', but why haven't you visit me in 40 years?"

"And you're like, 'Aiyah, I tried, but you know my airplanes cannot fly!'"

Screenshot via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok

The TikTok came with an overlay of a MAS plane, likely a Boeing 737, in case there was any doubt over what she was referring to.

The joke landed with a mixed reaction, some laughing, some clapping, but a very audible, "Oh. My. God!" emanated from the audience.

Acknowledging the mixed reaction the joke got, Chia quickly pivoted to a more meta approach, asking, "What? Malaysian Airlines going missing not funny, huh?"

"Some jokes don't land," she said, with a hand action mimicking a aircraft landing, adding, "This joke kills in Singapore."

Someone off stage then said she was going to get a bad Yelp review, referring to an online rating service.

Chia laughed it off saying that she would "get a bad yelp review from the Malaysians".

Screenshot via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok

"That's okay, they don't have internet."

Screenshot via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok

Crossing a line

Well, it turns out at least that last statement wasn't true, because Malaysians online have spent the day following the video being posted and saying Chia crossed a line.

Kudsia Kahar, a Malaysian broadcaster, articulated their objection to the part of the set that was shown in the video.

While Singaporeans and Malaysians taking pot shots at and roasting each other was par for the course in the stand-up comedy domain, it was apparent that making fun of MH370 was beyond the pale.

MH370 is an ongoing national tragedy in Malaysia, which involved a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappearing with barely a trace on Mar. 8, 2014.

Until now its fate has not been confirmed after more than nine years, with most experts speculating that the aircraft was likely lost in the Indian Ocean.

However, the incident has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories.

The lack of a definitive outcome means that for family and friends of those onboard, and Malaysia as a whole, the incident remains an open wound.

They definitely have internet

At the time of writing, Comedy Cellar USA appears to have removed the video from its Instagram and TikTok pages, but the clip was still available on her TikTok and Instagram accounts.

Both the TikTok and Instagram accounts saw many commenters, identifying themselves as Malaysians, saying that it was inappropriate to turn tragedy into comedy.

Screenshot via @chiacomedy/Instagram

Meanwhile, others took the time to air common grievances that Malaysians typically have about Singaporeans, like Singaporeans buying groceries, petrol, and water from Malaysia.

Screenshot via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok

Some reactions clearly swung too far in the opposite direction.

Screenshot via @chiacomedy/Instagram

Although some were more understanding.

But perhaps the most curious were the numerous attempts to get Nigel Ng's "Uncle Roger" character to weigh in.

Screenshot via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok

Screenshot via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok

But it might not be that surprising as Ng is a Malaysian and he is looked upon to return fire with his own jabs.

Perhaps that would be the best way to "settle" the issue, in a comedian face-off.

Top image via @jocelynchiacomedy/TikTok