An English major in college, Zhang Xu now works as an auditor for a foreign company. He handles orders from all over the world, and he’s clearly a very good listener because his impressions are pretty darn good, especially for someone who doesn’t speak native English. He says he recorded each piece more than 10 times to get it right, and the whole process from script to screen took about three months.
He greets viewers in Chinese before launching his chameleon skit that starts in Japan and cycles through Korea, India, England, America, France, Italy, Russia, and finally China. He plays host for each nationality, assuming an exaggerated persona with a representative name – Sando Missoro for Japan, Nicolas for France. A lively soundtrack of background music sets the scene, but the actual scene never changes, showing what appear to be rooms in his house. Indeed, low production value adds to the effect, emphasizing that this is just a normal guy who decided to record himself playing around with accents.
The script is a condensed compilation of somewhat predictable (but no less entertaining) material that mocks while it imitates. You hear “England” and what do you think? Tea and Manchester United. Italy – Ferrari and pizza. For Russia he starts out with “Welcome to Russia, comrade” and advocates vodka as a counter to the cold, and for America he says with a Southern drawl, “We got sunshine, hot chicks, Hollywood, baby.” The Korean segment is all one dramatic expression of a girl’s love for her boyfriend. China: “We Chinese are the toughest nation in the world. Gutter oil, slim pig additives, those stuff cannot destroy us.”
Certain parts toe the line between playful and provocative, namely his final sentence for Japan that the Senkaku Islands (钓鱼岛) are not Japanese territory. Depending on your sensitivity to stereotypes, other moments – for example, his Indian bit on how his wife must make good curry and the line “By the way, we don’t have toilet paper” – may rub people the wrong way, but there are no signs that the clip has seriously offended anyone, at least not among Chinese audiences.
The video has received thousands of hits and comments since it went online nine days ago, including one from micro-blog queen Yao Chen (姚晨), who boasts over 17 million followers. The overwhelming majority of netizens praise Zhang Xu’s creativity and talent: “So fun!” “Amazing!” “You really capture the essence of each.” “NB” can be seen over and over again, indicating not the formal abbreviation “nota bene” but the slang (and slightly vulgar) “niu bi” (牛逼), meaning “cool” (but directly translating to…well, look it up…). Many people discuss their favorites, with strong support for the Indian accent and less enthusiasm for England and America. “The Chinese one is of course the most accurate,” wrote one guy.
“Dongbei guy uses 9 accents to speak English”(东北小伙用9国口音说英语 , dōngběi xiǎohuǒ yòng 9 guó kǒuyīn shuō yīngyǔ) ranked fourth on today’s list of top 10 search items. Click here to watch the clip.
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