China’s Stand-Up Comedy

People laugh in China. There’s even humor, jokes and comedy. However, I often don’t see the humor in a Chinese joke while a Chinese audience roars with laughter.

Part of the joy of humor in America is when you discover the shocking meaning behind the punch line.

John Pasden, who has lived in China for more than 10 years, writes Sinosplice. John has been interested in Chinese humor for a while.

He points out that Chinese stand-up comedians follow the punch line with an explanation of why the joke is funny.

  • Zhou LiBo’s Chinese stand-up comedy “war story” with English subtitles

A popular stand-up comic in Shanghai, Zhou Libo, provides an example.  He jokes about China’s massive purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds, “I am really confused about why a poor guy lends money to the rich. We should just divide the money amongst ourselves,” he says. “But on a second thought, each of us would only get a couple of dollars!”

Then Zhou LiBo adds the explanation, “Because the population is so big.”

Although Zhou LiBo is a stand-up comedian in China, his reputation reached the Los Angeles Times, which reported that the government in Beijing can’t understand him while his fan base continues to grow.

The Times says, “Zhou is Shanghai’s homegrown rock star. Born and raised there, he began his career with a local comedy troupe before taking the stage on his own. His routines are filled with local humor and performed mainly in ‘Shanghainese’ — a local dialect with only a passing resemblance to Mandarin.”

In fact, China has more than 56 spoken languages and a flock of dialects while having one written language.

See Four Equals One China—Minority China – Part 5 and Part 6


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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