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Chinese Stand-up Comedy 相声


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First, I wasn’t sure which category I should post this topic (is comedy an art), so if moderators would like to move this to a different area feel free.


I’m looking for any suggestions on Chinese stand-up comedy (xiang sheng 相声).  As much as I respect the guy, I’m not looking for suggestions on Dashan (大山).  I’m looking for more modern stand-up comedians who touch on current situations and issues in China today.


I’ve just started to explore this genre of comedy in Chinese, so I’m open to suggestions.  I’d also like to know if any of you have enjoyed this style of comedy and if you find it easy to follow after a while.  I worry at first some of the jokes may not resonate with me, because the Chinese have a different style of humor, but I’m wondering if after listening to it for a while if I will start to understand the comedy and style better.  I’m really interested to read others experience here.


One of the guys I tried listening to is Zhou Libo (周立波).  He is a Shanghainese comedian and quite popular these days.  I say I tried to listen to him, because I find his stuff sometimes hard to follow.  He throws in some local Shanghai dialect, which gets me completely lost.


The other guy I want to start listening to is Guo Degang (郭德纲).  Guo is a Beijing based comedian and also popular in China.  I’ve only listened to one of his skits so far called, “我的大学生活”.  For me I feel he has some promise of something I’d like (although my wife warns me that some of his stuff is more cultural/political based and I may not understand why it’s funny because I may not understand the backstory there). 


Hope some users on this forum can offer some of their experience with listening/studying this type of comedy and can offer some suggestions on comedians.    

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@Meng Lelan - yeah, I'm pretty much the same.  I'm brand new to start listening to this genre.  In the past saw some Da Shan stuff on the net, but never explored the genre of Chinese stand-up.  That's why I posted the topic here to see if anyone has tried to study this from a comprehension perspective.


If enough people are interested we can start a small group and pick a piece and listen to and discuss.  I think the help of a larger group would help with the comprehension.  Last night was listening to 郭德纲 again and remember his opening:


The setting:  he was at Bejing University (aka Peiking University, 北京大学)


Opening:  回到北大我很高兴,我也是北大的...... 我是北京大兴的


Explanation:  北大 (bei da) is short for 北京大学 (bei jing da xue).  北京大学 is the most elite university in China.  He says that he's also from 北大 (bei da), and then clarifies in the next sentence that he's from 北京大兴 (bei jing da xing), which is a district on the far outskirts of Beijing, far from the city and outside of the 5th ring road.... 


This is where the help of a groups collective efforts would help in learning the Chinese comedy.  For the above, you need to have some understanding of the Beijing University, the nickname, and also of the geography of the city of Beijing.  When it comes to Chinese comedy, I feel there are going to be a lot of subtleties that play on the language/characters and the culture. As an individual it could get frustrating, as a group we could help each other out.


If interested I will start a group, find a decent skit and we can review that.

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That's something I'd love to see happen on here.

If you're looking more closely at Chinese comedy, especially if you're looking for "more modern stand-up comedians who touch on current situations and issues in China today" then this piece by David Moser on Chinese comedy is, despite being almost 10 years old, essential. Also happened to come across this while looking for the above link, which might also be worth reading.

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I would say under Listening, as that's the most relevant skill. Sure, there's going to be cultural and vocab stuff as well, but that seems most relevant. I'm not going to argue if you want to put it elsewhere though. 


Looking forward to this - it's a nice idea, comedy's good fun, tends to be in bite sized pieces, and should be slightly more interesting than the 新闻联播。

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