“White people have been using an Asian accent to make fun of Asian people for a long time"
Nigel Ng whose character Uncle Roger has taken the internet by storm has discussed combatting stereotypes.
In a VICE interview, Ng described his character as “a middle-aged Malaysian uncle you see everywhere in Malaysia, including coffee shops and your family events.”
Whilst Ng has gained popularity through the character, Uncle Roger’s exaggerated accent has caused some to be concerned that he is perpetuating Asian stereotypes.
“Their fears are not unfounded, and also I try to see from their perspective too,” Ng said. “A lot of them grew up being the only Asian person in a white neighborhood where nobody understood their culture.”
“They got made fun of, ostracized, and bullied based on how they behave and speak.”
Ng went on to say that the character was inspired by his own life experiences.
“I know that my dad wears a belt phone case, and I see a lot of other Asian uncles wearing it too,” he said. “So, Uncle Roger is a combination of research and my own life experiences. A lot of words Uncle Roger uses are words I used growing up, talking to friends in a very casual setting. So I just had to make these the centerpieces of his dialect.”
The Malaysian comedian, who is now based in the UK, continued to explain how Asians are treated when they have an accent.
“There are definitely people who were bullied because they had an accent and grew up Asian in a Western world, and that is a valid life experience,” he said. “But so is mine. And I think both our life experiences can exist together.”
Nonetheless, Ng insists that his character does not encourage negative stereotypes.
“When I do stereotypes, I think people just mean the accent,” he said. “Uncle Roger is a character. He’s never mentioned that Asians eat dogs, or are good at math.”
“White people have been using an Asian accent to make fun of Asian people for a long time,” he said. “The difference between them doing it and me doing is that my version is rooted in my experience growing up in Asia, which is celebratory. And the fact that it’s the Asian community who enjoys [my comedy] the most.”
Most recently, Uncle Roger took aim at the Great British Bake Off‘s ‘Japanese Week’.