A popular online video site is bringing the irreverent, topical humor of “Saturday Night Live” to China.
The late-night U.S. comedy sketch show that regularly mocks politicians, popular culture and celebrities is being shown exclusively on the website of Sohu Video, a unit of Chinese online media group and Nasdaq-listed Sohu.com Inc.
Ten episodes from the current 39th season of “SNL” are available now. Future episodes will be available online without subtitles the Monday after airing in the United States, and a version with Chinese subtitles and explanations of cultural references will be available at 10 p.m. the following Saturday, Sohu said in its announcement Thursday.
The NBC network show has been a comedy proving ground since its inception with Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell among its cast over the years. Many of its original sketches and musical performances have been made into movies — including the 1992 hit “Wayne’s World” — or gone viral online.
Topics have featured China, including a sketch of a press conference with then Chinese President Hu Jintao berating President Barack Obama over the national debt.
But Sohu Chairman and CEO Charles Zhang said he didn’t expect the show’s edgy themes to get them into trouble in China.
“Things that are controversial in America are probably not controversial in China,” he said. “And this talk show is in the spirit of fun and humor. I don’t think there will be any problem.”
Chinese films and TV shows are routinely censored to prevent criticism of leaders or socially sensitive content, including sexually suggestive humor, and “SNL” frequently tests those boundaries.