Renowned Cantonese crosstalk artist Huang Junying has attended the Yuexiu Temple Fair every year since 2011 when it was held in Guangzhou for the first time. In 2016, 80-year-old Huang met Pan Hongbo, a seven-year-old boy telling Cantonese stories at the fair. Impressed by Pan’s eloquence and performance skills on stage, Huang took Pan under his wing and taught him to perform Cantonese crosstalk.
Pan is very talented in both acting and at school, according to Huang. He is among the best in the class, and studies crosstalk with Huang every weekend. This year, Pan has taken to the stage with his master several times, taking part in a Cantonese crosstalk competition. His performances received favorable remarks from both the critics and the audiences.
Cantonese crosstalk artist Huang Junying (R) performs with his pupil Pan Hongbo on the stage. [Photo: Xu Jianmei]
In fact, Pan is only one of many other gifted crosstalk performers learning from Huang Junying. The 83-year-old Huang is a comedian known for pioneering and promoting Cantonese crosstalk, indeed he introduced xiangsheng to Guangdong. A master of the Cantonese language, Huang has created and starred over one hundred crosstalk performances during his 67-year career.
Over the years, Huang has committed himself to promoting and passing on the comedy medium. In 2013, Huang established an art center dedicated to teaching Cantonese crosstalk in schools, and thus far the center has given classes in 19 schools across Guangdong and trained over 1000 pupils. The Cantonese crosstalk and sketch competition dedicated to the great efforts of Huang Junying has been successfully held bi-annually, in addition, Huang tours the province and Macao, performing with his pupils and other artists from time to time.
The launch ceremony of the Cantonese crosstalk development fund. [Photo: Xu Jianmei]
It has not been easy for Huang and all other artists to keep Cantonese crosstalk performance alive, due in large part to the lack of funding. Now with the Cantonese crosstalk development fund established on November 30th this year with an initial contribution of 2.6 million RMB donated by both the Guangdong Chinese Culture Promotion Society and two die-hard fans Mr. Liang Haohan and Ms. Kuang Jianwen the future looks bright for the medium.
The fund will be supervised and managed by non-profit organization the Guangdong Chinese Culture Promotion Society, and will be used exclusively for projects promoting Cantonese crosstalk. The fund accepts donations from all sectors and people from all walks of life. If you want to support this art form and make a donation, call 020-81118306.
Xiangsheng or ‘crosstalk’, is a form of comedy form that originated in Beijing in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) as a street art, usually involving two performers onstage. The shows are typified by their witty banter, jokes and creative puns, and deal with topics like daily events, family life and social issues.
Author: Monica Liu
Editor: Simon Haywood