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A Canadian Chinese Celebrity
June 21, 2004 11:17 AM   Subscribe

A Canadian Chinese Celebrity - (LA Times - reg required) Use this to get login. "The lanky Ottawa native, a virtual unknown in Canada, is most renowned for his Chinese TV appearances as the quick-witted foreigner who does amusing skits and the first Westerner to perform the ancient Chinese art of xiangsheng, or comedic dialogue."
posted by blahblah (14 comments total)

 
Any westerner who can do "cross-talk" in Mandarin has my respect.

For those who are unaware: "Cross-talk", or what these guys call xiangsheng, is where two (or more) Chinese comedians start talking to one another. They gradually increase the speed and volume of the conversation until they're just short of screaming non-stop. The humour comes from the wacky mispronunciations and puns that come about when you scream a language where tones are incredibly important to figuring out what you're talking about.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:41 AM on June 21, 2004


He is actually well known within the Chinese community here in Toronto. I've seen him on ads in Chinatown and in the suburban Chinese areas, and I think it's bled into the rest of society to a certain extent. Not that he'd be recognizable, but we're more or less aware that he exists, and is huge in China. First Bethune, now him. Odd.
posted by loquax at 11:48 AM on June 21, 2004


Pseudophedrine: thanks for the info. This sounds like it would be really funny

(note to self: learn Mandarin).
posted by Quartermass at 12:31 PM on June 21, 2004


I saw a documentary on him a few years back. It's called Dashan, IMDB doesn't have a hell of allot on it.

A few things stand out in my mind...

First that it was really interesting to hear him talk about watching Monty Python with his crosstalk instructor. He said that since he watched it while he was talking and thinking in Chinese he thought it was just stupid, even though he remembered really liking it.

There's also a scene featuring him eating dinner with his acting troupe, who seemed to be freestyling lines in Chinese around the table as they ate. He never missed a beat.

Second the scenes where he's actually performing. Naturally I didn't get much out of it, since it was translated with subtitles, but I have to agree with pseudo*, cross-talk sounds amazing.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:02 PM on June 21, 2004


Use this to get login !!
Main screen turn on !!
We get Chinese celebrity !!

Sorry, I couldn't help it... (yes, I know Macross was Japanese, sosumi).
posted by shepd at 2:38 PM on June 21, 2004


are they any non-ancient chinese arts? sheesh, you guys!
posted by mcsweetie at 3:39 PM on June 21, 2004


cool story, thanks for the link, blahblah
posted by chaz at 4:30 PM on June 21, 2004


Of course there are non-ancient Chinese arts. Like this, for example.

I will now betray my USerican narrowmindedness by saying that, whenever I drive by a restaurant that proclaims its offerings of "Chinese and Canadian Food!" I am tempted to go in and order the back bacon mu shu with a side of birds' nest poutine.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:06 PM on June 21, 2004


Well, what they mean when they write that is usually that they serve real Chinese food, and "Chinese food" as we know it over here. Ask someone in Guangzhou for lo mein or chicken balls and they'll look at you funny and ask if those're things McDonald's makes.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:25 PM on June 21, 2004


I will now betray my USerican narrowmindedness by saying that, whenever I drive by a restaurant that proclaims its offerings of "Chinese and Canadian Food!" I am tempted to go in and order the back bacon mu shu with a side of birds' nest poutine.

I saw that restaurant just the other day. It's on Queen just east of Dufferin...
posted by juiceCake at 7:55 PM on June 21, 2004


Mmm, sounds tempting; I'd take a crack at it if only 1) I had any kind of charisma and 2) it didn't sound like a living hell.
posted by Poagao at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2004


[ this is phenomenal. ]
posted by elphTeq at 10:49 PM on June 21, 2004


The phenomenon of this big Caucasian guy speaking Chinese like a native pretty much fell into the 'uncanny valley' territory, back in the 80s.
posted by of strange foe at 8:05 AM on June 22, 2004


Xiangsheng is one of these treasured Chinese arts. I've never found it funny in the slightest, but when I posted an entry to that effect (incidentally, also saying fairly unkind things about Dashan) on my Chinese blog, I instantly got comments from strangers telling me how wrong I was.

Anyway, as mentioned in that article, Dashan does tend to be the bane of foreigners studying Chinese, but after a while, it becomes apparent that this is just sour grapes.
posted by bokane at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2004


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