Chinese comedian gets Broadway laughing

Updated: 2014-04-28 13:05

By Liu Zheng in New York (China Daily USA)

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Comedian Guo Degang, described by the New York Times as China's Ricky Gervais, performed a cross-talk show on Saturday at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Cross-talk, or xiangsheng, is considered a subgenre of balladic arts, which include storytelling, singing and dialogues. The show is part of Guo's 2014 multi-city cross-talk art performance tour Laughter Across North America.

"I'm satisfied with the box office, the results are better than the previous show in Los Angeles, you can see the crowd lined up outside the entrance, more than 2,000 tickets have been sold," co-organizer Mike Chen, chairman of Pan Hollywood International Media Group, told China Daily.

Chen also called for more commercial arts groups of China to be encouraged by the government to visit overseas. The potential demand for performances among the Chinese community is tremendous, he said.

In his performance, Guo started with his traditional warm-up, which is to blow his own trumpet and poke fun at his partner Yu Qian. Although some of the hardcore fans were familiar with the jokes, Guo's behavior - that so goes against the traditional modest manner of the Chinese - never fails to get the audience howling with laughter.

Aiming at teaching and promoting xiangsheng to the American Chinese community, a branch of Deyun She, a cross-talk school built by Guo and his apprentices back in 1990s, will be established in Los Angeles this year.

Thanks to the innovations that Guo Degang has brought to traditional cross-talk artistry, much of his material now fits young people's taste. Most of his audiences are between 20 and 35 years old.

During his stay in NYC, Guo and his team also met with fans at New York University. According to Guo, back in 2011, he and his team did their first overseas commercial performance in Australia, and later in 2012, the team came to the US with concerns about how cultural differences might affect their work.

"The sincere welcomes from overseas xiangsheng lovers have left a deep impression on me," said Guo. "We are the people, like traditional Chinese craftsmen, who rely on their skills to live."

Guo's Chicago performance was held a day after the NYC show on April 27 at the Chicago Theater. The troupe will also visit Toronto and Vancouver in the latter half of the year.

 Chinese comedian gets Broadway laughing

Guo Degang (left) performs xiangsheng, or cross-talk, with his partner Yu Qian on Saturday at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Liu Zheng / China Daily

(China Daily USA 04/28/2014 page2)