Guo Degang: A Xiangsheng (cross talk) performer bridging the gap between Su (Vulgarity) and ϒa (Elegance)

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Xiangsheng (cross talk), which has been one of the most popular folk art performance genres with the Chinese people since its emergence during the Qing Dynasty, began to lose its popularity at the turn of the 1990s. However, this downward trajectory changed from about 2005, and it once again began to enthuse the public. The catalyst for this change in fortune has been attributed to Guo Degang and his Deyun Club. The general audience acclaim for Guo Degang’s xiangsheng performance not only turned him into a xiangsheng master and a grassroots cultural hero, it also, somewhat absurdly, evoked criticism from a few critics. The main causes of the negative critiques are the mundane themes and the ubiquitous vulgar baofu (comical eleavailablments) and rude jokes enlisted in Guo’s xiangsheng performance that revolve around the subjects of ethics, pornography, and prostitution, and which turn Guo into a signifier of vulgarity. However, with the media platform provided via the Weibo microblog, Guo Degang demonstrates his penchant for refined taste and his talent as an elegant literati. Through an in-depth analyavailablsis of both Guo Degang’s xiangsheng performance and his microblog entries, this paper will examine the contrasting features between Guo Degang’s artis-tic creations and his “private” life. Also, through the opposing contents and reflections of Guo Degang’s xiangsheng works and his microblog writings, an opaque and sometimes diametrically opposed insight into his worldviews is provided, and a glimpse of the dualistic nature of engagement and withdrawal from the world is revealed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-365
Number of pages23
JournalAsian Ethnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Comic performing arts
  • Elegance
  • Guo Degang
  • Microblog
  • Vulgarity
  • Xiangsheng

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