Chinese Funny Business

02.11.2021 - By Barbarians at the Gate

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In today's episode, Jeremiah and David meet up with legendary Canadian TV personality, comedian, and cultural ambassador Mark Rowswell, better known to generations of Chinese audiences as Dashan. On the eve of the annual CCTV Spring Festival Gala, "the most-watched TV show in the world," Mark briefly recounts his experiences on the show, its importance as a cultural mainstay of the traditional New Year's holiday, and the evolution of the program from the early days of Chinese television to the current Internet age. Mark also takes us through the development of comedy in China, from Qing dynasty joke books, the origins and evolution of the verbal humor from xiangsheng or "crosstalk," the rise of sketch comedy, and now, in the 21st century, the growing popularity of tuokouxiu, Chinese stand-up comedy. A recurring theme in the discussion is Chinese humor's struggle to remain funny and relevant in a tightly controlled media environment.
DashanTV Youtube Channel (
Dashan on the web (
And, as promised, Mark and David's performance at the 1999 CCTV Spring Festival Gala (

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