Tibet does not have a populist late night media prognosticator with the power of a Jay Leno or a Jon Stewart, but according to those in the know, Pu Bajia, host of Tibet's 'Night Time Show', may well be on his way to filling that role.

In his monologue last night, Bajia's humor took aim at a previously taboo topic - China's Olympics. After making a few of his tried and true 'I tried to cross over but they beat me at the border' jokes, he asked the studio audience if they had seen the previous night's broadcast of the 'Lighting of the Olympic Torch Live from Tiananmen Square Special' on State TV.

"Not too impressive," he told the tittering audience. "Not too impressive at all. They brought out a box about the size of a bottle of scotch, and they said it contained the Olympic fire. I'm thinking the Olympic firewater maybe, but no way they're going to light anything much with a modified Sterno stove. Hey, I'm not kidding! It was crazy!"

"So Hu Jintao - my old friend Hu, he had me locked up one time in Beijing and if it wasn't for a particularly attractive yak from Lhasa who owed me a favor, I'd probably be there still... So anyway, Hu comes out with this little stick about half the size of a baseball bat, and people start laughing right from the start, this is the mighty Olympic Torch - am I right?, and he can't get the flame going, which is funny, because it's supposed to be eternal, isn't it? That's what I thought. And Hu asked for a match, but he's forgotten that he made all of Beijing a non-smoking area for the duration of the Olympics. What a shmuck!"

By this time the studio audience is beside themselves with hilarity. They are laughing so hard that they are falling off their barrels and into the hay, there are a lot of wet pants in the room, and anyone not busy busting a gut is throwing Lotus petals onto the stage. Bajia chuckles and then smiles slyly, deciding to kick things up a notch.

"Okay, okay, so nobody wants to give Jintao a match, it's a no smoking zone, they're all invited guests, and this is national TV. Jintao is getting panicked, so he says 'take five, smoke em if you got em', and when a Party Deputy from Shandong Province pulls out a pack of Luckies, Jintao has him shot. I know, that's what I said, not very lucky! Whew, those Shandong Province hillbillies, they're so dumb that it takes them an hour to make minute rice! I'm not kidding!"

"Anyway, Jintao finally gets the torch lit, and you can hardly see the flame it's so small, people are like What? That's it? And they really need to bring on Jay Chow about now, the crowd is getting way too restless. So this guy - I believe he was an Oriental gentleman - stands up with a megaphone. The guy must be from Shandong Province! He starts making jokes about the Chinese torch, and how small it is. 'Your torch is so small, it couldn't set off smoke alarm in a Beijing efficiency', he tells them. Funny, funny stuff. And then he says 'Your flame so small that if Cheung Tat-Ming try to light bong with it, he would... Aiiiyeee! Aaaagggghhhh!'."

"That's it, that's the joke inside of the joke - China's torch is so small that they'll shoot you if you talk about how small it is! Ha ha, thank you. Laugh at China, free Tibet. Laugh at China. Thank you. Back after this commercial."


2008, Mark Hoback