Stand-up comedy in China has become increasingly popular in recent years, as the country has opened up to new forms of entertainment.
Chinese comedians are pushing the boundaries of traditional comedic styles and introducing audiences to new forms of humor, often incorporating elements of Chinese culture.
From small comedy clubs to larger venues, comedy fans and performers alike are enjoying the growing prominence of stand-up comedy in China.
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How Stand Up Comedy Developed In China?
According to ChinaDaily, the first Chinese stand-up comedy club, was founded in Shenzhen in 2009 when few Chinese had heard about this form of entertainment.
In China stand-up was inaccurately known as tuokouxiu 脱口秀 (the Chinese translation of talk show).
Chinese tried their hand at stand-up in the United States.
Joe Wong (黄西 his Chinese name) started to perform in Boston after getting a PhD in Biochemistry in Rice University in 2002.
- In 2010, Joe Wong gained instant fame both in the US and China for his calm yet razor-sharp performance at the annual Radio & Television Correspondents’ Dinner during which he roasted the in-attendance then-vice president Joe Biden without mercy.
(The show was such a success that Wong was given a standing ovation by the audience. )
- In 2012, a stand-up variety show named Tonight Post-80s Talk Show hosted by Wang Zijian, a crosstalk comedian, aired on Dragon TV.
During each themed episode the host discussed hot social issues and events that concerned young people the most.
The show, the first of its kind, acquainted a wider Chinese audience with stand-up.
It was not renewed after the sixth season in 2017.
The show’s scriptwriters and supporting actors such as Li Dan and Wang Jianguo are known as the “original gangsters” of the stand-up business in China.
Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media Co Ltd. and Beijing Danliren Comedy, the two stand-up comedy industry leaders in China, were established in 2014 and 2017 respectively.
Rock & Roast (脱口秀大会）and Roast （吐槽大会）, two popular stand-up variety shows that aired in 2017.
They were co-produced by Xiaoguo Culture and Tencent Pictures.
And helped spread the popularity of stand-up comedy nationwide in China.
Each season of Rock & Roast has been viewed billions of times and has generated dozens of the most heated exchanges of views on Weibo, the Twitter-like social media platform in China.
Who Is The Audience?
- The audience for stand-up comedy is mainly higher-income people aged between 18 and 35.
- From the first- and second-tier cities and have relatively higher social status, incomes and spending power.
How Fast Does Stand-Up Comedy Develop In China?
- In 2016, there were less than 100 stand-up practitioners. Now there are about 10,000 practitioners and 1,585 contracted stand-up comedians in China.
- In 2018, there were less than 10 stand-up clubs nationwide but now there are at least 179.
- And the number of offline commercial shows has grown to 18,500 in 2021, up 50 percent from 2019, while revenue has reached 224 million yuan (about $31 million) attracting an audience of 2.2 million.
What Do Chinese Audience Like In Stand-Up Comedy?
Chinese people are often seen as lacking the ability to be funny, so the road to becoming a stand-up comedian in China is not easy.
- Chinese audiences at comedy shows are super sober so comedians have to work hard to warm up the crowd and create an atmosphere at the beginning of shows.
- Chinese audiences prefer jokes about romantic relationships and the workplace matters.
Famous Chinese Stand Up Comedians You Should Know:
1. Yang Li
Xiao Guo comedy club nurtured a number of famous stand-up comedians including Yang Li.
She is a female stand-up comedian also a contestant on this season’s Rock & Roast.
Yang Li triggered nationwide debate on gender equality with barbs like “Do men have any bottom line?” and “Men are rubbish,” which resulted in Yang being reported to the National Radio and Television Administration (China’s broadcasting regulator) for “sexism, spreading hatred and instigating social conflict.”
Yang Li is super popular among young Chinese but her performance is completely in Mandrian.
If you want to hear Chinese related jokes in English, these 3 Chinese comedians are very successful among expats in China.
2. Norah Yang
Norah Yang, the only ACTIVE female comedian who is doing both in Chinese and English.
3. Storm Xu
Storm Xu, Hailed as ‘one of the brightest talents in China’ by The Sydney Morning Herald, with appearances on BBC radio 4, and after two years in a row selling out shows in China.
Dawn Wong who gained her fame in China through her stand up performance on her own wedding in Ireland. This one single video gained almost 3 million views worldwide.
Now she is running 2 comedy channels on YouTube.
Go and Check them out!
If you want to watch Rock&Roast or Roast! , you can find the latest season and episodes on YouTube. I see this is a great way to learn Chinese 🙂
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Frequesntly Asked Questions: FAQ
Yes, there are at least two in Beijing and Shanghai before Covid. Many closed its doors during Pandemic.
There is one in Shanghai still opening. It’s called Comedy Corner. You can find their profile on wechat and book free seats ahead.
The current famous Amercian Chinese comedian is Jimmy O.Yang.