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What Makes China Laugh?

October 15, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

China Institute and Kung Fu Komedy present an uproarious conversation about humor and standup comedy in China. The event will feature stand-up comedians Jesse Appell, Joe Schaefer, and Norah Yang, and Christopher Rea, author of The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China.


Jesse Appell (艾杰西) is a Fulbright Scholar Alumni whose research focuses on Chinese humor and performance. He is a disciple of  master Xiang Sheng performer Ding Guangquan, and regularly performs Xiangsheng, bilingual improv comedy, and Chinese stand-up live and on TV. Appell’s performances, writing, and commentary on Chinese comedy, media, and culture have been seen and heard on CBS, TEDx, PBS, NPR, and PRI, as well as Chinese media such as CCTV, BTV, and CRI. He was listed as one of the People of the Year by the Global Times in 2012. Jesse is the founder of Laugh Beijing and the U.S.-China Comedy Center, social enterprise focused on fulfilling the goal of bringing China and the West closer through laughter.

Christopher Rea, professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, is the author of The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China, which the Association of Asian Studies awarded the 2017 Joseph Levenson Book Prize. He is also editor or translator of six other books, including the humor anthologies China’s Chaplin and (with Bruce Rusk) The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection.


Originally hailing from a small Ohio village, Joe Schaefer found himself afflicted at an early age with an insatiable hunger for all things East Asia. He spent time in Japan, and in 2004 moved to China, where he became a founding member of both Kung Fu Komedy and the People’s Republic of Comedy and a writer and performer in sketches for Mamahuhu. Joe now lives in New York where he co-produces Kung Fu Komedy NYC.

Born and raised in China, Norah Yang is a stand-up comedian in both English and Mandarin. She started less than 3 years ago, performed 700+ shows in 15+ cities across China, US, Thailand and Japan, and has already opened for several international headliners including Mark Normand and Kate Willett. Norah has also appeared in several international comedy festival including 2018 San Francisco Comedy Competition. What’s more, she is a main crew member of Mamahuhu, a cross-culture comedy channel on YouTube with 190k+ followers. “The longer I watch her the funnier she becomes…there’s an international quality to her comedy – The Independent”.


Members: $5

Non-Members: $10

Ticket Special: FREE admission to What Makes China Laugh? Will be granted to attendees who purchase tickets to Kung Fu Komedy’s Comedy Road Trip! Travel, Stand-Up, & Storytelling at the New York Comedy Club on October 16.  Present proof of ticket at China Institute door for free entry.


October 15, 2019
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Downtown Office
40 Rector Street
New York, NY 10006 United States
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