performing art

Crosstalk, also known by its Chinese name xiangsheng (Simplified Chinese: 相声, Traditional Chinese: 相聲, pinyin: xiàngsheng, literally, "looking at each other and speaking"), is a traditional Chinese comedy form.[1] Crosstalk is a special kind of dialogue and a special kind of performance.[2]

Xiangsheng performers in a Tianjin theater.

The comic language has many puns and allusions. The words are spoken in a fast, rushed manner. The comedy is a kind of banter.[2]

According to Canadian crosstalk comedian Dashan (Mark Rowswell),[3] the closest equivalent in English would be Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" sketch.[4]


Modern crosstalk is made up of four skills–speaking (Simplified Chinese: , Traditional Chinese: , pinyin: shuō), imitating (Simplified Chinese: , Traditional Chinese: , pinyin: xué), teasing (Simplified and Traditional Chinese: , pinyin: dòu), and singing (Simplified and Traditional chinese: , pinyin: chàng).[5]


Crosstalk was popular during the Qing Dynasty.[1] It is also a standard feature of CCTV's annual New Year's Gala.[6]

Related pagesEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Haas, Benjamin. "‘Who’s on First?’ Finds a Home in Chinese Clubs," New York Times. March 2, 2011; retrieved 2011-1121.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Dashan - Ambassador to China's Funny Bone", National Film Board of Canada; retrieved 2011-11-21.
  3. Dashan, "Who is Dashan? Archived 2012-01-14 at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 2011-11-21.
  4. "Anonymity to fade for Ottawa man who's a star in China," Ottawa Citizen, March 22, 2006; retrieved 2011-11-22.
  5. Garrison, Laura Turner. "Translating China's Xiangsheng Comedy Scene," Archived 2011-09-21 at the Wayback Machine SplitSider. February 8, 2011; retrieved 2011-11-21.
  6. Jones, Omar. "The greatest show on earth: Spring Festival gala TV special," Archived 2012-06-09 at the Wayback Machine See China. December 31, 2009; retrieved 2011-11-22.

Other websitesEdit