Comedians Malaysia Joke Prompts Threats and a Diplomatic Incident
Jocelyn Chias line about the 2014 missing airliner was part of a Comedy Cellar set in April. But when video was posted this week, outrage poured in.
At the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan this spring, the stand-up comedian Jocelyn Chia performed a routine that she had reliably included in her sets for more than a year, about the historical animosity between Singapore, the city-state in Southeast Asia where she was raised, and its neighbor Malaysia.
But when Chia and the club posted a clip from the April 7 set to TikTok and Instagram this week, it provoked a heated backlash. The 89-second video showed the comedian bantering with an audience member who volunteered that he is Malaysian. And it concluded with Chias making light of the 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people onboard.
Angry Malaysians flooded the comment sections on Chias social media accounts. The Comedy Cellar received 4,000 one-star reviews on Google almost overnight and its website was hacked, its owner said. TikTok removed a clip of the joke from Chias account, flagging it as hateful behavior and a violation of its community guidelines, according to a screenshot Chia shared with The New York Times.