NEW YORK, Oct. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A bilingual ad titled "Joke King Holds the World" was shown at Times Square in New York October 3, delighting Chinese speaking visitors many of whom took photos of the giant billboard in the iconic US landmark.
The screen ad is part of overseas promotion for a popular online show streamed exclusively on iQIYI, a leading Chinese internet and mobile video service provider, which features famed crosstalk artist Guo Degang performing a comedic monologue in a small teahouse setting.
Crosstalk is a traditional Chinese comedic performance in the form of a dialogue usually between two performers. Guo, a household name in China, and his crosstalk art troupe Deyunshe staged a number of shows to packed audiences during a recent tour of North America. As a leading figure among the new generation of crosstalk artists, Guo has particularly struck a chord with younger audience for his unique way of using playful banter.
Guo was shown in the poster wearing the traditional ankle-length uniform for Chinese crosstalk artists while holding a foldable hand-held fan inscribed with Chinese characters "Joke King is Coming". Its portrayal of Guo as a gracious and cultured Chinese artist has turned many heads among local Chinese as it stands out among many commercials promoting other shows at Times Square.
Guo, a student of late crosstalk maestro Hou Yaowen, has been one of new torchbearers for the art. His online show, which premiered on iQIYI September 25, is updated at 8am Beijing Time each Sunday.
Guo is a super star in the field of crosstalk yet his stardom is somehow showcased by the enormous amount of publicity surrounding an unfortunate spat between himself and Cao Yunjin, one of his former disciples over why he disowned Cao, who is also a rising crosstalk star.
The episode earlier in September, which made national headlines in China both in traditional media outlets and on social media platforms such as microblogs and WeChat, eclipsed the coverage of the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
The artist has also carved out a huge fan base among Chinese living overseas. He and his Deyunshe were well received across all age groups among overseas Chinese during several tours of North America in recent years. Their tour of the continent this year, which coincided with the 20th anniversary of the launching of Deyunshe, was sold out.
Both as an artist and an educator, Guo was the first crosstalk artist to give a lecture at a US university when he was invited to give seminars at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2012, when he also accepted the honor as a crosstalk instructor at Fuyunxiangsheng, a local crosstalk art troupe in Boston.
A popular folk art, crosstalk went through a low period in the 90s and at the turn of the century particularly after several crosstalk masters such as Hou Baolin and Ma Sanli passed away. But the advent of new media, particularly those that offer online streaming services such as iQIYI, has lent new fame to crosstalk artists like Guo Degang. Crosstalk has undergone a new revival in China largely due to Guo's antics and as such he has been hailed as a crosstalk master of the new generation.
The rising appeal of crosstalk among audience overseas in recent years has much to do with a growing population of overseas Chinese with many of them being loyal fans of the folk art. Many foreigners have begun to appreciate the art to improve their Chinese and many got into crosstalk due to its artistic aesthetic which has given rise to crosstalk performances in English.
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