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About Crosstalk: Xiangshen Print

 
Original text special to CRIENGLISH.com

Xiangsheng, sometimes translated as crosstalk, is a traditional Chinese comedic performance in the form of a monologue or a dialogue. The language, rich in puns and allusions, is used in a rapid, bantering style. Xiangsheng is one of China's foremost performing arts.

Canadian xiangsheng comedian Dashan (Mark Rowswell) says the closest equivalent in English would be Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" sketch.

The term "xiangsheng" originally referred to the act of imitating someone's speech and actions. It rose as a performing act during the Ming Dynasty. From the Qing Dynasty to the 1920s, xiangsheng gradually developed to become a style of comedic monologue. Later xiangsheng came to be performed as a dialogue and sometimes even in groups of three or more.

The earliest xiangsheng comedian known by name is Zhang Sanlu, who performed in the mid nineteenth century.

Xiangsheng is a standard feature of China Central Television's annual Spring Festival television program and other popular performing arts shows in China.

Modern xiangsheng is made up of four skills - speaking, imitating, teasing, and singing. 

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