Class and Capitalism Mix with Comedy
While Beijing authorities crack down hard on any stirring of disrespect in Tibet and other areas inhabited by ethnic minorities, they’ve let Zhou vent — albeit often in a dialect most Chinese don’t understand.
He makes cracks about “garlic munchers” in the capital and outsiders who don’t share Shanghai’s sophisticated ways. Other favorite topics include sky-high real estate prices and the gyrations of the city’s stock exchange — also touchy subjects with China’s dour leaders.
The comedian’s Shanghai shtick has won him a huge following among the city’s prosperous bourgeoisie, a class that Mao and a handful of fellow revolutionaries vowed to eliminate when they gathered here in June 1921 to establish the Chinese Communist Party.
After starting out in a 700-seat Shanghai theater, Zhou moved his show this year to the Gymnastic Center, which has 3,700 seats. His performances all sold out despite an average ticket price of more than $50, roughly two months’ wages for the average Chinese.