CULTURE Comedy firm fined $1.9m after stand-up comedian insults soldiers


Comedy firm fined $1.9m after stand-up comedian insults soldiers

Global Times

10:42, May 18, 2023

A major Chinese culture company and comedy show organizer has been fined more than $1.9 million and ordered to suspend upcoming shows in Beijing after one of its comedians made insulting remarks regarding Chinese soldiers during a stand-up comedy show in the city.

Overwhelming support for the penalty was seen after it was announced by the Beijing Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau on Wednesday.

The Chinese well-known comedy firm, Xiaoguo Culture Media Co., issued an apology on Monday, apologizing to the public for the controversy caused by its stand-up comedian HOUSE (also known as Li Haoshi)'s inappropriate metaphor during an offline performance. (Photo: Sina Weibo)

"The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is a strong defender of national security and people's peace, and we will never allow any company or individual to wantonly defame the glorious image of the army on the stage of the capital, and never allow harm to the deep feelings of the general public for the soldiers," the bureau said in the statement.

Comedian Li Haoshi, who often goes by his stage name House, was criticized for inappropriate linking of stray dogs with the motto of PLA during two public stand-up comedy shows in Beijing on Saturday night and afternoon, according to the General Brigade of Cultural Market Law Enforcement of Beijing Municipality on Wednesday.

A thorough investigation showed that Shanghai Xiaosheng Culture Media Co (Xiaosheng Co) and Li tampered with the content of the show during the performance declaration procedures, and made a serious insult to the PLA, which had a negative social impact, it said in a statement.

The Beijing Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau stated that behavior of the company - Xiaosheng Co, a subsidiary of Xiaoguo Culture Media Co - violated the Regulation on the Administration of Commercial Performances.

The bureau has decided to suspend indefinitely all performance activities of the companies involved in Beijing. The company was given administrative penalties including a warning, confiscation of illegal income of 1.32 million yuan ($189,478) and a fine of 13.35 million yuan ($1.9 million).

In addition, the personnel involved in the case, their performance brokers and performance venue operators will be further held responsible for the violations in accordance with the law.

Same on Wednesday, public security authorities in Chaoyang district of Beijing said they had filed a case to investigate the stand-up comedian.

The Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism ordered the company to suspend all performances in Shanghai starting Wednesday, immediately carry out internal management and rectification, and cooperate with the follow-up processing of the case.

The China Association of Performing Arts, which is an industry non-profit social organization, called on its member units to boycott Li in the industry and urged the cultural industry to strengthen self-discipline.

The penalties came one day after apologies from the comedian Li and his company. Li expressed deep guilt and regret for the mistakes he made, and said he will take responsibility for them.

Li's company on Wednesday decided to terminate its contract with the comedian and penalize its senior administrators over the incident.

The penalty on Wednesday received overwhelming support from Chinese netizens. Observers pointed out the support came from the general respect and recognition Chinese society has for military personnel.

Xiaoguo Culture Media said on Wednesday that it sincerely accepts the punishments and criticism from the public, making another apology.

In a statement, the company said it had terminated the employment contracts and agency contracts of the comedian Li Haoshi, and imposed salary cuts and other sanctions on the company's senior management team and relevant business teams.

The company pledged to set up an auditing department independent of its performance business, deploy content supervisory staff to every show, and sort out weaknesses in management to establish an effective and pragmatic long-term mechanism.

The company will immediately conduct a comprehensive overhaul of its offline performance business across the country, and will properly handle ticket refunds, it said.

Xiaoguo's official website showed Wednesday afternoon that all of its scheduled offline shows have been canceled. At the same time, Li's cast profile page has been removed.

Xiaoguo is a blooming cultural and entertainment company established in recent years mainly to promote and perform comedy. Its several online variety shows, including Rock & Roast and Roast!, have gained widespread popularity and discussion, and it is seen as an important driver of the growing popularity of stand-up comedy and other new comedy culture in China.

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