David Letterman Asks Louis CK All The Classic Condescending, Ignorant, And Paranoid Questions About China

Louis CK was in Beijing in June 2012 to film the (wonderful) finale of (the wonderful) third season of his show Louie, and apparently he got enough material to tell stories for years. He was recently on David Letterman, where — for whatever reason — he was prompted to relive his experience. 

Old man Letterman begins by asking if Louis went to Shanghai, and immediately you know this interview will go horribly.

“Beijing,” Louis corrects him. (“It’s more like a giant Dayton, Ohio,” he later says of the city.)

“It’s hard to go to China. It’s really far away,” Louis deadpans.

“They probably hacked your computers and stuff,” Letterman suggests.

“Sure, sure,” Louis agrees, in the way someone might brush off a grandfather who uses the phrase “back in my day.”

Louis CK not impressed

Actual reaction

 

“The United States is comfortable with you doing a show in China?” Letterman asks, as if China were fucking North Korea.

“A lot of movies are produced there and stuff,” Louis says.

“I understand,” Letterman replies, though he clearly does not.

Louis then talks about the stand-up show he did in a “very ancient theater.” “I was, like, Do I have to worry about what I say? And they’re like, Dah, have fun!”

“They’re just such fun-loving folks,” Letterman butts in with a sarcastic wave of a hand. “All they want is fun over there.”

Yeah, I don’t know, why would commies have fun? And what could they do, drive tanks around their farms, amirite?

After confirming that Louis doesn’t speak Chinese, Letterman asks with an old-man smirk, “What about the people in the theater?” How is he not getting that English-speaking people live in Beijing? Or that there are expats here? I will never understand how old white people think.

“The sense I get is that the government doesn’t really do anything anymore, but everybody is really scared, so if you do anything weird everybody’s like Stop it,” Louis says. ” So you know, we were told somebody might disappear if you use that joke on the show.”

“Oh. My. God,” Letterman interjects, because he actually believes this. Louis CK, comedian, relays a joke that one of his China friends told him (“somebody might disappear”), and Letterman believes it. Go to the 1:50 mark to hear him believing it.

“Wow!” Letterman breathes.

Toward the end, Louis describes how he and his team went into a mountain seeking a Chinese family to take him in so they can film a scene. They stumble upon an old lady who invites him in and starts feeding him (that’s the final scene of the season, by the way).

Apparently unable to mine this delightful anecdote for anything, Letterman suggests:

“Government agent, probably. She’s probably a government agent.”

Sigh.

Look, comedy is hard, I get it. China is hard (not as hard if you actually tried, but whatever). But you can combine the two without being a hoary halfwit who reinforces every narrative cliche. You can be better than David Letterman.

(H/T Alicia)

55 Responses to “David Letterman Asks Louis CK All The Classic Condescending, Ignorant, And Paranoid Questions About China”

  1. mike

    This is so awesome!

    Yes there are people in Beijing who can speak English! They’re called English teachers! What an International City!

    There are so many great quotes in here:

    L “We met so many great people there, which I loved—”
    D “Will you ever go back?”
    L “No.”

    LMFAO

    The North Korea/China jokes never get old ;)

    “They’re just such fun-loving folks,” Letterman butts in with a sarcastic wave of a hand. “All they want is fun over there.”

    The funny thing here is.. it actually sounds like Letterman has been to China and witnessed a horking contest by the locals, or walked into a McDonalds and been gawked at/pointed/laughed at, etc. He doesn’t actually sound ignorant, which is amazing. Ignorance would have been making reference to .. you know.. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

    Good for Louie for being such a sport and trying the white guy in China/can’t breathe thing.

    Reply
  2. King Baeksu

    ““They’re just such fun-loving folks,” Letterman butts in with a sarcastic wave of a hand. “All they want is fun over there.””

    I think we all can agree that when it comes to non-Chinese making jokes about China, most Chinese aren’t much “fun” at all. Humorless nationalistic dicks, more like. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t reserve the right to mock and diss America daily themselves.

    “I will never understand how old white people think.”

    Congratulations, you’re ageist and racist. Give yourself a (fortune) cookie. Must really suck to know that a loser like Letterman has his own respected, long-running TV show, whereas a know-it-all connoisseur of comedy such as yourself has to make do with a obscure blog for now. Life sure ain’t fair, is it?

    Reply
    • Bob


      Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t reserve the right to mock and diss America daily themselves.

      Awww….those wicked Chinese are making fun of us…boohoo.
      The Chinese mock and diss little bitches like you.

      Reply
    • benji

      Shelf life expired Letterman epitomises whats wrong about america, self centred, largest debtor to da commies and yet acts as if its the other way.

      Reply
  3. King Baeksu

    “Can’t believe Letterman said the Chinese “hacked his computer” after everything that’s come out about the NSA. What a dick.”

    You, sir, are a humorless moron. He made a joke about China because Louis CK had been in China. Do you really think Letterman hasn’t made any NSA jokes? Here are a few:

    “The NSA has been listening in on phone calls. It’s people with cellphones — you hear these people walking down the street screaming into their cellphones. They’re the ones who are upset about people listening to their phone calls.” –David Letterman

    “You know your phone is being tapped when you’re having a conversation and you hear the attorney general breathing.” –David Letterman

    “Even the NSA is out of business. And while they’re closed, while the government is shut down, they are asking citizens to please spy on each other.” –David Letterman

    My personal definition of a “dick” is someone who totally has no sense of humor, and is too dim to do the kind of basic research or cogitating that would easily undermine their own knee-jerk prejudices and hate. Or, wait, don’t you actually get a paycheck from the CCP, essentially? In that case, that would merely make you disingenuous, which is at least better than being retarded or lacking a sense of humor, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • bag-o-dicks

      Jonathan Alpart genuinely believes every single word he reads in China Daily.

      You would not even believe some of the shit he comes out with.

      Reply
    • Jonathan Alpart

      That’s even more annoying that Letterman has made jokes about the NSA, yet still made the same lame joke about Chinese hacking. The insinuation behind his joke is that China is still seen by the American public (or at the very least a good portion of his audience) as the place that is so nefarious when it comes to computer privacy, otherwise the joke wouldn’t have made any sense outside of this established context. In other words, no matter how much more hacking the US actually does, China is still the big bad guy hacking nation…now I have deconstructed the joke, and you say I’m humorless?? =)

      So how is it that this, as a subject of a joke, can even still be relevant when the Chinese hacking scandals have been completely overshadowed by Edward Snowden’s leaks? They seem like mere blips by comparison. (I called it too commenting on this blog before the leaks when the Chinese hacking scandal was news that the US gov’t was probably complicit in much worse online hacking and spying.) Just goes to show that old beliefs and prejudices die hard even in the face of evidence of worse crimes in your own backyard. That’s why I said he was a “dick,” because it’s ignorant, lazy and pretty nationalistic under the surface. Coming from a leading mainstream entertainer, it nearly seems intentionally misleading, a cheap way to pander familiar feelings to your audience.

      But all means go back to attacking me personally, though I don’t care, and it doesn’t help your arguments. As far as Ad Hominem attacks go, yours is admittedly not a bad one, because my employment by Chinese state media is definitely something to point out about me if I comment on Chinese affairs. Where it stops though, is that you never tie anything I’ve said or done for work to any of the beliefs or ideas that I communicate on this blog – and all my work I’ve done and do for CRI is public and online. Merely saying I work for CRI so therefore I am a liar or spouting bullshit is inadmissible.

      Happy New Year to you and everyone in this thread!

      Reply
  4. King Baeksu

    “americans.”

    Speaking as an American, I really would love to be from whatever fine country you hail from yourself, just so that I could be as scintillatingly articulate, humorous and original as you are!

    Reply
  5. King Baeksu

    “Awww….those wicked Chinese are making fun of us…boohoo. The Chinese mock and diss little bitches like you.”

    You’re barking up the wrong tree, little doggie, and aren’t too bright yourself. I really don’t have a problem with people around the world taking the piss out of “America” since more often than not our country deserves it, and in any case when you’re a superpower it pretty much comes with the territory. What I do think is rather funny is how so many Chinese can dish it but sure can’t seem to take it. If you actually had a brain, you would have understood that. You must be American, right?

    Reply
    • Bob

      Well, unlike you, I’m bright enough to know how to use the “reply” button so that my replies appear in logical sequence following the original comment.

      Reply
  6. King Baeksu

    “In fact, everybody mocks and disses little bitches like you.”

    Woo hoo, you called me a “little bitch” not once but twice. I’m so scared I think I’m going to crap my pants, but please don’t try to eat my poop, little doggie, since your master wouldn’t want you to have shit breath now, would he?

    Reply
    • Bob

      Three times – little bitch. Plus how could a dog eat the shit out of your shitty pants unless you are revealing that you like to drop your pants and have dogs lick your shit-covered ass?

      Reply
  7. King Baeksu

    “Well, unlike you, I’m bright enough to know how to use the “reply” button so that my replies appear in logical sequence following the original comment.”

    Well, since you have poop breath, little doggie, I’m trying to stay as far away from you as possible.

    Actually, my Safari browser is so out of date that the “reply” button does not appear on my screen, but you’ll have to take that up with Apple and Anthony Tao if it bothers you so much, I’m afraid.

    You really are a waste of bandwidth, aren’t you?

    Reply
    • Bob

      Well, not updating your browser is merely a different kind of stupid. Just think of all those wicked Chinese laughing at you! This is what it probably looks like translated into English….LOL!!!!

      Reply
  8. King Baeksu

    “Well, not updating your browser is merely a different kind of stupid.”

    My MacBook is five years old and works fine otherwise. The stupidity is on Apple for not allowing me to update.

    And you are still a totally cliche Internet Tough Guy shouting obscenities into the ether whatever time of the day it is. Your poor ma would be ashamed if she could see you right now.

    Reply
  9. King Baeksu

    I haven’t gone anywhere, Bob. It’s just that you’re boring, uncouth and have nothing of interest to say about the subject of this post. Why do you think anyone would want to have an actual conversation or discussion with you?

    Reply
  10. Thomas

    Letterman should get his dentist to unscrew those fake teeth. so that he can suck cock easier. Racist American Pig eh.

    Reply
  11. King Baeksu

    Let’s review here, shall we? Did Letterman really think that that Chinese grandmother in the countryside was a “government agent”? In fact, he was subtly mocking and satirizing such stereotypes rather than affirming him, for if you’re the kind of person who takes either Letterman or Louis CK at face value, or only read them literally, then you’re a naive boob and a simpleton and are unqualified to comment on contemporary pop culture on a blog or any other medium. Moreover, nothing that Louis CK said about present-day China was off-base, and his comments about censorship in China were nuanced and largely in accord with my own experiences in China.

    That being said, he made a point of saying that he “loved” Chinese culture and hoped to return there again some day. The fact that the authorities allowed such a subversive comic to film an episode of his show there, and moreover perform a live set in Beijing, in fact speaks highly of the Chinese authorities, who seem to be relaxing and becoming more self-confident about China’s place in the world. In short, all you crybabies need to lighten up, and more importantly, need to go back to remedial school and study the basic precepts and conventions of modern-day comedy.

    And that ain’t no joke.

    Reply
    • Chinese Netizen

      “…speaks highly of the Chinese authorities, who seem to be relaxing and becoming more self-confident about China’s place in the world.”
      And most of your comments up ’til this were so measured, logical and sensible.

      Reply
    • Bob

      “for if you’re the kind of person who takes either Letterman or Louis CK at face value, or only read them literally, then you’re a naive boob and a simpleton and are unqualified to comment on contemporary pop culture on a blog or any other medium.”

      Yes, let’s recap. You’re the little bitch who was whining about the wicked Chinese mocking America and the above statement shows what an ignoramus you are. The complaint is about how tired Letterman’s jokes, attitude, and reactions were. Understand now, stupid?

      Reply
  12. Orthodox

    I know Chinese people (both in China and American born ones) have a sense of humor because I meet them in real life. But the most butthurt whiners with zero sense of humor always manage to write articles or get in front of TV to complain about how butthurt they are, usually in a completely tone deaf and ignorant manner which shows they have zero understanding of American culture. As this post does, completely ignorant of Letterman’s style of humor.

    Reply
  13. King Baeksu

    “now I have deconstructed the joke, and you say I’m humorless?? =)”

    Yes, because jokes that have to be explained just aren’t that funny anymore. And, actually, you didn’t really get Dave’s jokes because he was metaironically invoking the stereotypes not uncritically embracing them. Do you really think he thought they hacked Louis CK’s laptop? You’re another retard who shouldn’t be working in the media because your comprehension of contemporary pop culture is also sadly deficient. Joking is a serious matter — and shouldn’t be left to mere amateurs, as the results can be downright dangerous and even self-destructive as we can all see here!

    Reply
  14. King Baeksu

    BTW, Mr. Alpart, not only do you not seem to understand comedy, you do not seem to understand the fancy-pants term “deconstruction,” either, which has a specific literary and philosophical meaning that evidently eludes you. Deconstruction refers to reversing hierarchical binary oppositions in a discourse system, such as “man and woman” or “white and black,” and thereby “destabilizing” its inherent assumptions and ideological presuppositions. In the case of the interview under review, perhaps we could apply the term deconstruction more loosely and accept your initial claim that Dave is beholden to a hierarchical mode of thinking in which “American freedom” is placed above “Chinese lack of freedom,” and is therefore “superior” in his view. However, as we have seen above, Dave has actually made many more jokes about NSA spying on American citizens and others around the world than he has about Chinese spying on its own citizens and others. In other words, your claim that Dave privileges American “freedom” over Chinese “lack of freedom” has not been proven in the examples you cite. Moreover, in order for you to prove that Dave is a “hypocrite” as seems to be your basic argument here, and therefore lacking any legitimacy to comment on Chinese domestic or foreign spying, you would need to apply the same standard to the Chinese equivalent of David Letterman. To wit: We can be fairly certain that Chinese comedians in either broadcast or major Internet media have used the recent NSA spying revelations as fodder for their own jokes, but have they also made similar jokes about the CCP’s proven track record of spying on its own citizens? If you cannot provide at least a few such examples here, then your attempt to portray Dave as a “hypocrite” is itself highly hypocritical.

    I may not have just “deconstructed” you, but I have certainly demonstrated that much of what you have to say on this subject it total gibberish.

    Reply
  15. King Baeksu

    “Yes, let’s recap. You’re the little bitch who was whining about the wicked Chinese mocking America and the above statement shows what an ignoramus you are. The complaint is about how tired Letterman’s jokes, attitude, and reactions were. Understand now, stupid?”

    Why so angry, Bob? If a comedy segment featuring Louis CK, one of America’s best contemporary comics, does nothing but make you more pissed than you obviously already are, I’d say screaming at strangers online is not really the best way to resolve your own personal issues.

    Like I said above, I don’t care if Chinese or others make fun of America, do you have a reading comprehension problem or something? (It does indeed seem so, which makes me wonder why you think you can even comment intelligently on an extended interview between two adults laced with irony and political commentary.) What I do know is that many Chinese nationalists can dish it out but they sure can’t seem to take it, which was my actual point and has been echoed by several other commenters here.

    I will agree with you on one thing, though: I am indeed “stupid” to even give a freak like you the time of day. Chalk it up to stubbornness on my part, I suppose, and a certain sadistic thrill in putting jackasses such as yourself in their well-deserved place.

    Reply
    • Bob

      KingBackside

      Angry? It’s only your stupidity that could rile me, but it’s more funny than anything else.

      I will try to make it even more simple for you to understand; the criticism of Letterman is that his jokes are tired, not that he made the jokes. Got it?

      Please try to do better with your English comprehension, you are an embarrassment to America’s English departments.

      Reply
  16. King Baeksu

    Bob, your first comments to me were these:

    “Awww….those wicked Chinese are making fun of us…boohoo.
    The Chinese mock and diss little bitches like you.”

    “In fact, everybody mocks and disses little bitches like you.”

    You continued along in this vein in half a dozen more, including insulting my mother and assorted other childishness.

    Two days later, you have suddenly changed tack and claim that I am too “stupid” to follow your main line of argumentation in this thread.

    Look, I’ll just hand you the win on this one, OK? I concede that I do indeed lack the intellectual capacity to fully understand the deranged darkness that seems to have gripped your feeble mind.

    Happy now?

    Reply
    • Bob

      KingBatshit

      My argument has always been that you are an uncomprehending little bitch – nothing more. I never claimed that you misunderstood my points – but you have certainly not comprehended the criticisms that Letterman’s jokes were tired.

      Instead you tried to make stupid – borderline racist – claims about Chinese people’s sense of humour. Yes, you are ignorant and stupid, sorry that I have to be the one to tell you. I’m being compassionate to stop you from embarrassing yourself and the Land Of The Free any further.

      Reply
  17. King Baeksu

    Bob, here’s something that all professional journalists and interviewers will understand, and that you clearly don’t: The role of an interviewer is to allow their interviewee to shine, not to upstage them. Dave wasn’t trying to be funny here, he simply asked a few simple questions and made a few random comments at appropriate moments that were solely designed to allow Louis CK a starting point from which he could then riff and speak at length himself. The interview wasn’t about Dave, it was about Louis CK. Ergo, any judgement about whether it was “funny” or not should be directed at Louis CK, full stop.

    It’s interesting that you keep referring to me as a “little bitch” as if I am some sort of coward when my ID directs straight to my personal Web site and real identity, whereas you are as anonymous and random an Internet troll as one is likely to find in the ether. In other words, you are the pussy and “little bitch” here, not me, and the only way that you can prove otherwise is to tell us all you who really are.

    In response, I expect to hear a lot of huffing and puffing that all add up to “Sorry, but I’m too afraid to do so.”

    Reply
    • Bob

      Kingbreakswind

      Please find a computer that lets you use the reply button you annoying sop. And didn’t you say you were going away?

      “here’s something that all professional journalists and interviewers will understand, and that you clearly don’t: The role of an interviewer is to allow their interviewee to shine, not to upstage them.”

      Most people are not professional journalists or interviewers. Your pompous frustrations with the commentary here just highlights your stupidity in not realizing this fact.

      But if you need more evidence for your stupidity, just look at this comment of six of your comments up…


      he was subtly mocking and satirizing such stereotypes rather than affirming him

      That is – for those who comprehend English – Letterman was telling jokes.

      And this one five of your stupid posts up…

      And, actually, you didn’t really get Dave’s jokes because he was metaironically invoking the stereotypes not uncritically embracing them

      As in Dave was telling jokes, contrary to your silly above statement that Letterman was not trying to be funny.

      You are an idiot and a little bitch and you have no idea what you are talking about. Please shut up.

      Reply
  18. King Baeksu

    I used to read Beijing Cream regularly back in the day but found its comments section unusually toxic — as I’m sure the artist behind Laowai Comics, for example, can agree — and gradually drifted away. I still check in from time to time and have noticed that it does not receive nearly as many comments as it used to. Perhaps Anthony Tao thinks it’s “cool” or “good for traffic” to allow commenters like “Bob” to shit all over his blog and other commenters here, but I would argue that the resulting stench is actually off-putting for average readers and hence counterproductive if the goal is to increase traffic. I admit that I can sometimes be sharp-tongued myself, but surely commenting on someone’s mother or calling people “a little bitch” half a dozen times without reprimand crosses some sort of line of basic civility.

    In short, the cream seems to have curdled, and is not nearly as tasty as it used to be.

    Reply
    • Bob

      Aww…now you’re crying? You probably drifted away because people started calling you out on your contrary and bullshit statements. Don’t blame me.

      Plus, calling you a little bitch is in no way as severe as you borderline racist assertions about the Chinese. Are you really as stupid as your comments suggest?

      Reply
  19. King Baeksu

    No, Bob, unlike you I’m cool as a cucumber. There’s a difference between noting the hypocrisy of “many Chinese nationalists,” which is what I actually said, and making blanket statements about the entire Han-Chinese race, but I expect that’s too subtle a distinction for you to really grasp.

    As far as I can see in this thread, you have three basic points, none of them terribly interesting or illuminating: You think I’m a “little bitch,” you think Dave wasn’t “funny” and you have attempted to play the race card either disingenuously or just plain stupidly. I suggest you read a few books and try to up your intellectual game a bit, Bob, because your game is sorely lacking at the moment.

    The question you have to ask yourself, Bob, is who will you play with when no one wants anything to do with you any more? Thank your lucky stars for the Internet, eh?

    Reply
    • Bob

      KingBarbitch

      Actually, this is what you wrote, you pathetic little bigot…

      most Chinese aren’t much “fun” at all. Humorless nationalistic dicks, more like.


      Besides, you are the one who says Dave was not funny, you unthinking fool – I like Letterman. And let’s not forget that you are the one who brought up race, not me.

      And yes, I do thank my lucky stars for the internet, it allows me to shop, keep tabs of old friends, listen to music, and so on and so forth.

      Reply
  20. King Baeksu

    Way to quote me out of context, Bob, but I guess expecting intellectual integrity from an Internet trolls is but a fool’s errand. This is what I actually said:

    “I think we all can agree that when it comes to non-Chinese making jokes about China, most Chinese aren’t much “fun” at all.”

    That’s called qualifying a statement, and few intelligent people would disagree with me — including most Chinese, in fact.

    You really are like a cold sore that just won’t go away, Bob. Fortunately, I have my own special treatment, and am starting to feel better already.

    Hope you and Anthony Tao enjoy your Year of the Horse together, because I dare say it will be rather lonely for the both of you.

    Reply
    • Bob

      Kingbuttchew

      That’s called qualifying a statement..


      Hence my use of the phrase “borderline racist” to describe your stupid comment.

      And what makes you think you are able to speak for “most Chinese”, you pompous twit?

      Reply
      • benji

        Wow. To widen his readership, Tao now should know what topic to get into to generate the hotter than lava passion and discourse.Bring it on !!!

        Reply

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