BEIJING (Agencies) – China has launched an official crackdown on poor-quality humour, after a particularly lame joke about Mao Zedong visiting a bar with Henry Kissinger and Deng Xiaoping led to the jailing of a 17-year-old female student who “re-Tweeted” it to friends.
Reports indicated that the joke’s punch line – “I just got here from Yan’an on a ‘Mao’ donkey!” spoken by Kissinger – failed to elicit a single smile among a test sample of Chinese and foreigners.
The dud gag was said to be the final straw for humor-loving officials.
“China has a rich history of hilarious humor. If foreigners thought this sort of thing was an actual example of proper, contemporary Chinese wit, the country would lose face. We’d be laughing stocks,” explained Ministry of Communications spokesman Guo Xidan.
“Only not good laughing-stocks. The bad kind.”
The student, identified only as Pan, faces a year in a re-education camp, where she can expect a series of courses on what properly constitutes ‘funny.’
This will include watching edited highlights from CCTV’s annual Spring Festival ‘Chunwan’ gala, alongside a course personally conducted by Canadian TV personality Mark Roswell, aka comedian Dashan.
The stern crackdown, which targets “poor, weak or generally lame jokes” as well as “stuff that just makes you shake your head mirthlessly and go ‘Oh, man,’” is expected to last several months, after which China will hopefully begin a new stage in its rise to become the world’s leading producer of witty asides and barbed put-downs.
Twitter, meanwhile, has been banned in China to contain the problem.
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