Crosstalk show sets off performing arts culture


The Concert Hall of the Zizhu Basic Education Park at the Minhang campus was lathered in a sea of joy on the night of October 20 when Tianyun Crosstalk Club, or Tianyun Xiangsheng Club, Shanghai’s first professional crosstalk club, staged its debut performance.

For those who don’t know much about Xiangsheng, a quick lesson in crosstalk may comply.

Xiangsheng, also known as crosstalk, is part of a traditional form of Chinese comedy arts, and one of the country’s most popular performing arts. The show typically takes place in a setting of a duologue by which the two performers interact with each other. The Xiangsheng style then aims to entertain the audience with jokes containing puns and illusory language techniques.

Prior to the show, Zhao Songtao, head of the club and founder of the Shanghai Songtao Art of Speaking and Singing Promotion and Exchange Center, introduced the rise and fall of Xiangsheng culture over the centuries. Yet, it gave the audience a thorough understanding of the traditional art form that prevails in Northern China - and ironically it stimulated laughter.

The show started with a hilarious performance by Zhao Songtao and Zhao Haitao, who maintained tacit cooperation and displayed brilliant China Allegro skills. They were followed by fellow crosstalkers who pushed the show to a climatic standoff, armed with outlandish facial expressions and comical storytelling.

After the performance, five of the audience members were invited onstage to try on the traditional Chinese long gown, an item famously wore by Xiangsheng performers. Zhao Songtao demonstrated how to put on the gown for students, whom virtually had no clue how to handle its extravagant size. Indeed, it was a great lesson of traditional Chinese folklore culture and attire.

The Tianyun Crosstalk Club was founded in 2004 by crosstalk artists who aspire to carry on the art form and renew interest amid upcoming generations. It is credited with igniting the boom of interest in crosstalk and the Xiangsheng comedy arts in Shanghai, which have spared no efforts to develop local audiences through lectures, performances and training activities.


East China Normal University