Kath and Kim
US vs AUS
Kath and Kim is a well known Australian TV production, written by Jane Turner and Gina Riley who play the title characters themselves portraying a suburban mother and daughter with a dysfunctional relationship. As it is a success for Australian TV, it caught the attention of American producer, Ben Silverman to make an American version of Kath and Kim played by Molly Shannon and Selma Blair.
When you create something new, there is ought to be comparisons. It has been criticized that the US version hasn’t been portraying the characters well and is different from the original. As you can see from the picture above, the American version portrayed that Kath is a fashionable sexy mom while Kim is a slim spoil brat that is having a mid teen crisis of thinking that she’s fat when she’s obviously not, while the original version portrayed Kath as a slumpy mom and Kim not so in her teenage days and is chubby.
Basically one of the main criticisms is how they translate the comedy of each of their culture. Since Australian jokes won’t be easily understood by fellow Americans, the US version had to change and imply their own local jokes. In the global context, cultural differences are to be seen. Australians having heavy accents going on with “Good die mate!” No, they’re not asking you to die! They’re just wishing you a good day. Simple things like this might make you misunderstand and misinterpret the meaning of what they’re trying to say. The successful translation of a comedy depends not only on the translation of the cultural context from one locale to another, but also the kinds of production deals which are made and the expectations about audiences which are then inferred. (Turnbull, 2008)
Out of the Western context, locally we have many comedians that we can never disagree on to make us laugh out loud. What connects both Malaysia and Singapore is the all time comedy series, Phua Chu Kang. The famous yellow rubber boots, and huge mole on his face. No one can forget the famous slogan of Phua Chu Kang, “PCK Private Limited! Best in Singapore and JB! and some say Batam.” He is also noted for his famous cliché “Don’t Play Play!”
source: Google images
Targeting Singaporeans and Malaysians as their audiences, the sitcom portrays a typical Chinese family of Hokkien dialect, Phua Chu Kang is a contractor and the owner of PCK Pte Ltd. The sitcom has been criticized to use too much Singlish, combinations of English, Bahasa and Hokkien. It is also a similar approach to Malaysian’s Manglish, ending every sentences with -lah! So in our defense, we would enjoy the whole sitcom and understand it in and out. But if Phua Chu Kang were to be broadcast in the Western countries, they wouldn’t understand the comedy but think of Asian countries as a joke that we couldn’t even get English to be spoken properly.
To me, local jokes refer to how we can fit ourselves into their shoes to make us feel comfortable and at home, so there will be pros and cons but translation also plays an important part of all.
Turnbull, S. (2008), Television Comedy in Translation, TV and Media, Metro Magazine, Issue 159, p111-115