China honors crosstalk master

Hou given revolutionary sendoff

BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred.

Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed in teahouses. It is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Beijing.

Hou, who was one of the top practitioners of the art, died of a heart attack at the age of 59 at his home in Beijing. Colleagues, students and friends will attend the ceremony.

The son of crosstalk master Hou Baolin, he learned xiang sheng from an early age.

Crosstalk has existed in its current form since the late 19th century. After the communist revolution in 1949, it went into decline, with many of the teahouses closing down, and was banned during the Cultural Revolution. As the country began to open up, crosstalk performers mostly got jobs in TV or as comedians.

Hou was particularly popular among older people, while younger fans preferred the biting satire of young performer Guo Degang, who has done much to revive the art’s popularity.

More Legit

  • Allelujah! review

    London Theater Review: 'Allelujah!' by Alan Bennett

    BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred. Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed […]

  • A Monster Calls review

    London Theater Review: 'A Monster Calls'

    BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred. Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed […]

  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' Stage Musical in the Works

    BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred. Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed […]

  • Joe Morton

    Joe Morton, Daphne Rubin-Vega Among Rebel Verses Guest Performers (EXCLUSIVE)

    BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred. Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed […]

  • The Lehman Trilogy review

    London Theater Review: 'The Lehman Trilogy,' Directed by Sam Mendes

    BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred. Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed […]

  • elizabeth perkins First Time in Variety

    Elizabeth Perkins on Her Early Film, Stage Roles

    BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred. Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed […]

  • 'Mary Page Marlowe' Review: Tatiana Maslany

    Off Broadway Review: 'Mary Page Marlowe'

    BEIJING — Chinese crosstalk legend Hou Yaowen, who died June 23, is to receive a memorial service on Saturday at Beijing’s famous Babaoshan cemetery, where the country’s top revolutionaries are interred. Crosstalk, or xiang sheng, is an ancient form of comic dialogue — like a cross between standup comedy, theater and rapping — traditionally performed […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content