It hasn’t been a great month for Taiwanese comedians, with the passing of a beloved but troubled actor and the slow, downward tumble of a disgraced star.
On Monday, entertainers, politicians and family members gathered in Taipei to mourn the loss of Da Bing (大炳), who died several weeks ago in Beijing at the age of 37.
Da Bing (real name Yu Bing-hsian, 余炳賢), who also went by the name “Tony Fish,” was best-known for his dead-on comic impersonations of politicians and pop stars (among them was Whitney Houston). He also had a brush with Hollywood fame when he scored a minor role in the 2005 film Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Official reports say that Da Bing died of pneumonia and multiple organ failure, which some in the media speculated was the result of a long-running struggle with his addiction to amphetamines.
Among the entertainment figures in attendance at his funeral service were Dee Hsu (徐熙娣, aka Little S), her sister Big S (徐熙媛) Aya (阿雅), Blackie (黑人), all close friends and associates of the actor and comedian. The Hsu sisters and Aya offered a heartfelt tribute at the ceremony mixed with a little humor: They asked attendees to try to place their entire fist in their mouth — one of Da Bing’s quirky, signature talents.
Da Bing often put that trick to use while pulling off one of his best impersonations, that of DPP politician Frank Hsieh (謝長廷). The act, featured in TV variety shows, made Da Bing a household name and it certainly didn’t hurt the former Kaohsiung mayor and DPP chairman’s visibility, either. Hsieh attended the funeral, and was quoted by the Apple Daily as saying that the actor was now among “the angels” and lamented that Da Bing “has made us understand that drugs can destroy.”
By comparison, Jacky Wu (吳宗憲) doesn’t have it so bad, although things could be a lot better for the once-popular TV show host/failed entrepreneur. Wu was indicted earlier this year by Taipei prosecutors on hefty financial fraud charges related to his LED manufacturing company. Since then, ratings have spiraled downward for his show Take a Guess (你猜你猜你猜猜猜), which ran for 15 years.
And so Wu has finally called it quits, fulfilling a promise he made earlier this year to retire from the entertainment business if found guilty. He made no mention of the scandal in a farewell note posted on his Weibo (微博) microblog, but said he was “tired and weary” after 15 years.
To add insult to injury, the China Times reported that Wu’s “decline” continues in light of a traffic infraction he committed at Taoyuan International Airport. Late for a China-bound flight, Wu sped to the airport, ramming his car through a fence at the parking lot entrance because the parking attendant wasn’t there. He made the flight (even though the gates had closed after begging the airline staff to let him on the plane), but returned from this trip to find a police summons notice taped to his car.
In the end, Wu had to cough up NT$5,000 in damages to the parking lot operators, which may not seem much to a TV star. But for Wu, every penny counts right now — that is, if we are to believe an Apple Daily report that claims authorities have seized his personal assets, which include NT$1.5 million in cash and three luxury apartments, as a result of the fraud case. Wu denied that he’s in debt and threatened to sue Apple for the report.