Popular Chinese crosstalk comedians bring laughter, cultural charisma to London

(Xinhua) 13:51, April 28, 2024

LONDON, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Thunderous laughter and applause almost blew off the roof of an auditorium in London's ExCeL Exhibition Centre on Saturday night, when a punchline by Guo Degang, a popular Chinese traditional crosstalk comedian, landed with an audience of thousands.

Along with Guo and his partner Yu Qian, a handful of comedians from the De Yun She Performance Group performed Xiangsheng, or crosstalk comedy, with both jokes about life anecdotes and traditional crosstalk episodes.

"Laughter is contagious and that is what makes the art form of crosstalk comedy powerful," said Guo, a leading character in both the performance group and the industry.

Guo and his group started their first overseas tour in Australia in 2011. Since then, they have performed in places including the United States, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore. This was the group's second time performing in London.

"The outcome of our years of international tours has made me realize the enduring vitality of traditional art," he said, adding that such performances can help overseas Chinese overcome homesickness through "voices in their mother tongue" and introduce traditional Chinese culture to a broader audience.

"Ever since I started learning Chinese, I've been interested in Xiangsheng," Christian Elliott, an audience member who has been learning Chinese for more than five years, told Xinhua. He wanted to see how much of the show he could understand given that there is a difference "between knowing conversational Chinese and knowing 'full' Chinese."

Elliott added that such an experience can help him learn more about the Chinese culture, history and the way people from a different background think.

Saturday's show was also the first public appearance in London for a few younger-generation performers, among whom was Meng Hetang, who joined the group in 2008.

Meng said that young inheritors of time-honored art forms, like himself, need to not only adhere to and promote tradition, but also innovate to keep pace with modern times. He performed his recently-created episode during the show.

In recent years, crosstalk comedy is becoming increasingly popular in China, especially with young people. Guo alone currently has over 15 million followers on China's video-sharing platform Douyin, while other fellow performers have several million followers each.

With London being the first stop of its Europe tour this year, the group was expected to perform in cities including Glasgow, Paris, Milan and Madrid in the upcoming month.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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