There’s A New Favourite Uncle In Town!

Or more specifically, YouTube

Orange shirt, messy hair and sarcastic remarks. And there you have Uncle Roger!

With 1.2M subscribers on YouTube and 420K followers on Instagram (at the time of writing), Malaysian stand-up comedian, Nigel Ng has become an Internet sensation after a reaction video he posted on Youtube blew up.

On 8 July 2020, Nigel, or better known to us as Uncle Roger released a comedy sketch of himself reacting and critiquing a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) video guide to preparing egg fried rice.

Video via mrnigelng/YouTube

From having just 9,000 subscribers on Youtube, Nigel successfully amassed more than 1 million subscribers in a matter of less than 2 months! 

Sounds like a once in a blue moon miracle. But is it really?

Although there’s no guarantee or real formula for going viral, here is our breakdown of why our Uncle Roger is such a big hit.

1. Asian = Rice

Image via Healthline

Rice is everything in Asian culture. It is our staple food and a great part of Asian cuisine. Hell, we can even eat it 3 times a day! With a food so commonly known, and loved, rice is a part of Asians’ cultural identity, more so when it is about a dish as popular as egg fried rice! 

Everyone has eaten egg fried rice, and if not, you’d probably tried any other type of  fried rice and can laugh along with your peers while watching the video. By establishing our familiarity with eating rice, we as Asians also have a standard way of cooking rice, and that leads us to the next point.

2. Asian vs Western 

Image via SBS

Let’s face it, we were all dying of laughter (or mortified) when Hersha Patel, the chef in the BBC video guide, measured water using a tea cup instead of her fingers. 

Growing up, we are all used to the ‘agak-agak’ culture, or in English, we say ‘to guess’, especially when we need a recipe and our mom will tell us to ‘agak-agak la’. There is a certain vagueness to this term that Westerners are not accustomed to as they are used to precise usage of measuring cups and strictly following step-by-step cookbooks. 

Apart from that, not washing rice or even drying it with a colander is a ‘crime’ in our Asian kitchens and Hersha Patel was guilty of all of them.

3. Playing with the big boys

Image via mrnigelng/YouTube

It all started with a viral video reacting to BBC Good Food, and Uncle Roger wasted no time in building his fame with collaborations with prominent personalities like Youtubers CantoMando and LeendaSundays, comedian Auntie Jenny (Lili Lei) and even the BBC chef Auntie Hersha (Hersha Patel).

Following his success with the BBC reaction video, Uncle Roger also did not spare world-renowned chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver from his blow-by-blow commentary on his egg fried rice tutorial video.

Video via mrnigelng/YouTube

By featuring and associating himself with prominent figures, it’s no wonder that Uncle Roger is still riding the waves of fame and keeping himself relevant with the times.

4. Familiarity and Consistency

Image via mrnigelng/Instagram

Uncle Roger may just be a personality on YouTube. But even more so, this hilarious alter ego of Nigel reminds us of a stereotypical middle-aged Malaysian uncle. With a tucked-in orange polo shirt, unmistakable Malaysian accent and referring to his audience as ‘niece and nephew’, in one way or another, Uncle Roger is very much like an uncle we know in our very own lives!

Nigel is also quick to work his way into becoming a household name when it comes to rice by consistently uploading videos of himself reacting to rice-related videos. The jokes made throughout his various videos were also maintained consistently such as the infamous colander, adding MSG into everything, getting so shocked to the point where he had to put his leg down from the chair and his memeable punch line ‘HAIYAA’.

GIF via tenor


The big break

Many comedians in Malaysia (or entertainers generally) work their whole lives, hoping for their big break to happen. 

The fact of the matter is, not everyone can experience a stroke of luck like Nigel did, especially of this magnitude. But we can always do our best to support our local comedians and who knows, maybe these diamonds in the rough can get their opportunity to shine worldwide!

Luwita Hana Randhawa

Image via BFM 89.9

Luwita Hana Randhawa’s love for comedy brought her to New York City and when she returned to Kuala Lumpur, she performed her stand-up comedy at Comedy Kao Kao, a former monthly comedy show at Publika. She also performed in ‘Sedapnya Mulut’, a 2018 stand-up comedy special on Astro. Her cool and sarcastic humour saw her named the CLEO Hot Shot 2016 and a FEMALE #MySuperFemale 2017.

Hannan Azlan

Image via Meld Magazine

Hannan Azlan is a talented actress, singer, writer and improviser who stepped into the world of stand-up comedy in 2015. A year later, she emerged to be the youngest winner of the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition. She has since travelled to 13 countries across Asia, Australia, Great Britain and Europe and has performed at MTV Asia, Edinburgh Festival Fringe clubs, theatres, festivals and family-friendly corporate shows. She even made her Australian television debut on ABC’s “Comedy Up Late and also premiered her debut full-length musical “Losertown” at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. She was nominated for The 2018 Women of the Future Awards: Southeast Asia.      

Shamaine Othman

Image via iamsharmaine/Instagram

Having a TV/film producer for a father, Shamaine Othman has been performing since the age of seven and has acted in the popular Malaysian TV sitcoms, “2+1”, “Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu” and “Nick & Nina”. Shamaine decided to pursue her interest in comedy and performed at Time Out KL’s Comedy Thursdays’ Kuala Lumpur and Singapore comedy circuit. She has also performed at Super Kam (1, 2, 3 and Ultra), LOL Fest Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur International Comedy Festival and Singapore Comedy Fringe Festival. Shamaine now has her own podcast called Lepak Seni that discusses the Malaysian creative industry.

Thenesh Skip

Image via Thenesh Skip/Facebook

Self-proclaimed ‘Malaysia’s Most Unsuccessful Comedian’, Thinesh Skip, is one of the young comedians who are slowly rising up in the world of stand-up comedy. The multimedia design graduate has performed with comedians Rizal van Geyzel, Desmond Lim, Brendan Burns and Daniel Kinno. He has even opened a show for popular Malaysian comedian, Dr Jason Leong for his #Ambitious2018 tour.

The Malaysian creative industry has not been very vibrant over the years, and much has to be done to revive it. Especially in these tough times when entertainers’ income and the comedy circuit are decimated by the pandemic, one must continue holding their head up and hopefully one day, opportunity might come knocking on the door.

Cover image via South China Morning Post

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