Crosstalk (Xiangsheng)

Crosstalk or Xiangsheng, a Typical Art in China

Xiangsheng, sometimes translated as crosstalk, is a traditional Chinese comedie performance in the form of a dialogue between two performers, or, much less often, a solo monologue or, even less frequently, a multi-player talk show. The language, rich in puns and allusions, is delivered in a rapid, bantering style. Xiangsheng is one of China's foremost and most popular performing arts, and is typically performed in Beijing dialect.
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 Ming Dynasty. From 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 (张三禄), who performed in the mid nineteenth century. After the widespread use of Mandarin from 1949, the popularity of Xiangsheng increased throughout the People's Republic of China. It is a standard feature of CCTV's annual New Year's Gala and other popular performing arts shows in China. To appeal to younger audiences, animators have created animated versions of various skits using audio from past broadcasts. The animated versions use humor in a literal sense.