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Having the last laugh

By Nie Xin (Shanghai Daily)

09:22, August 24, 2012

Lauphilos members pose for a picture after a regular gathering for comedy show.(Photo from Shanghai Daily)

A group of young amateur comedians in Shanghai take their hobby very seriously. They formed a club called Lauphilos and are now systematically working on making people laugh, all while having a good time themselves, writes Nie Xin.

In this city there is a group of young people contributing their time and energy to make people laugh. They named their club Lauphilos in English. In Chinese the name is Xiao Dao, which means laugh philosophy.

Last Friday, the club staged a group show for Qixi Festival which fell yesterday. Ten comedians each gave a five-minute performance. All were Chinese except for one Pakistani who lives in Shanghai. They made jokes and shared stories about "love" to coincide with the Chinese Valentine's Day.

Their upcoming gathering is scheduled tomorrow afternoon.

Once a month, the club holds a group talk show at a wine bar in Jing'an District. Up to 150 people will attend.

"The inspiration of our talk show comes from daily life and we pursue 100 percent original creations," says Mark Wang, co-founder of Lauphilos.

Wang shows an instrument that measures the decibel levels and questionnaires that audience members filled in after watching the show last week.

"Does it look very professional?" asked Wang, laughing. "We need feedback to find out which comedians are more popular and how to improve our club."

The club has about 20 members, including 10 comedians who are popular enough to sell out a venue with capacity for 150 people.

Wang quit his job two months ago as product manager at a multinational chemical company to focus on Lauphilos.

Chinese sense of humor

Lauphilos was founded by Wang and his partner Li Daisong. Both are from Shanghai but met in Canada, where they studied. They both love Western comedy and talk shows and decided to do something interesting in their hometown.

"I remember watching a talk show in Canada and one of my Western friends said to me, 'I don't think Chinese people know humor.' I want to change that impression of Chinese people," Wang says.

In 2010, when Wang and Li founded Lauphilos they invited some well-known Canadian comedians to Shanghai to perform. The feedback was not good. "Many reasons led to this initial failure including the reluctance of the local audience, lack of promotion in the media and mistargeting our audience," Wang says.

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