Comedians stand and deliver laughs

THE ARTICLES ON THESE PAGES ARE PRODUCED BY CHINA DAILY, WHICH TAKES SOLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONTENTS

<p>Comedian Xiaolu performs in an open-mic session</p>

Comedian Xiaolu performs in an open-mic session

Running errands one afternoon, Han Yanni rushed onto a crowded subway train in Beijing, squeezing into a small space while trying not to spill her coffee.

Clinging to a strap handle, she noticed a passenger near her watching a popular soap opera, which Han had been following at home every day.

As she rode the cramped train, Han suddenly remembered a joke told by Yingning, a stand-up comedian, who said that when she took the subway during the rush hour in Beijing she looked over people’s shoulders on different trains to watch a TV series. In 30 days of commuting, she viewed an entire series.

Han, 28, who works in the finance industry in Beijing, is an avid fan of stand-up comedy, an art form that is becoming increasingly popular in China.

Unlike traditional forms of Chinese comedy such as cross-talk, which follows a storyline, stand-up lends itself more to self-expression, imparting the humour of everyday life to audiences.

In recent years stand-up comedy has won fans in large cities, aided by online variety shows that have notched up more than 1 billion views.

Shi Jiefu, founder of Danliren Comedy, a stand-up comedy company in Beijing, said the city is now home to about six open-mic sessions in which new comedians practice in front of small audiences, a situation hard to imagine six or seven years ago.

Stand-up comedians take a break backstage during a show in Beijing earlier this year

“Stand-up comedy is a worthwhile and burgeoning industry,” Shi said. “It was only a matter of time before it took off.”

In June 2015 he quit his job in the financial sector to become a professional stand-up comic, forming his own comedy company two years later. “A comedy company can gather many talented comedians together to establish a brand,” he said.

Shi estimated that about 50 stand-up comedy clubs were formed in China last year. With some shows debuting online, the genre has rapidly attracted a wide audience. There is still a dearth of comedians in China capable of performing solo onstage, Mr Jiefu said.

However, Mao Dong, 31, has been doing so for the past two years. He names his act Mostly Harmless, and his jokes address young white-collar workers’ concerns, such as how to handle relations with parents who hold traditional values, achieving a work-life balance, and dealing with taxi drivers and express-delivery couriers.

Mao said: “When you’re onstage you expose your negative emotions and vulnerability to your audience. This is important to me, as I can show another side of my personality when I have a microphone in hand, which I don’t usually reveal in everyday life.”

Mao is usually booked for five or six performances a week, including a solo show and gigs in which he shares the stage with other comics.

Last winter, a stand-up comedian became a hit on the internet in China with the jokes she delivered while taking part in a popular online variety show. Xiaolu had young audiences roaring with laughter. Having been involved in the industry for seven years, she said she now regards stand-up comedy as her favourite genre.

“It makes me happy. No matter whether I have money or not, or whether I’m tired, or where my future lies, I am happy to speak out.”

Han Yanni, the Beijing white-collar worker, has changed the language she uses after watching stand-up comedy for several years. She and her husband watch a live show at least once a month in the city. “My husband is also busy with work most of the time. When something unpleasant happens, we now try to use some of the punch lines we’ve learned from the comedians to tackle our problems.”

Previously published on Chinadaily.com.cn

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in