Xiangsheng is a staged comic performance genre popular throughout China, with regional variations. It is usually performed by two male actors but sometimes as a monologue (dankou xiangsheng), or with three or more actors. A few women have also recently taken up the performance form, initially in Taiwan but also on the mainland. The performance is scripted, with minimal action, costuming, or scenery, and the humor is derived from the dialogue and not from clowning. There are frequent references to Peking and local operas, or, in traditional scripts, to local street color such as vendor calls. Because of its reliance on puns, slang, references to current affairs, and historical allusions, it is often difficult to translate.

Xiangsheng is sometimes called “crosstalk” or “comic dialogue” in ...

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