…At 9:39 am Wednesday, the Beijing Emergency Medical Centre received a call saying that Ma Ji was having a heart attack. When the team arrived at Ma’s home in northern Beijing, the performer was found slumped on the toilet in a critical condition.
…He started his career in the 1950s, when xiangsheng was one of the few forms of entertainment sanctioned for the public. In those days it was common for whole families to sit around a radio to listen to and laugh at xiangsheng performances. Ma’s image and signature jokes became etched in the minds of the nation when TV became popular with Chinese households. Ma was host of the most watched Spring Festival TV programme on CCTV for three years.
According to a survey by Sina, his most popular xiangsheng work was “Five Sense Organs Contending for Merits”(Wuguan Zhenggong). In this xiangsheng performed by six people, Ma as the head was grilled by five men playing the five sense organs for not giving them due merit. The fable-like work satirized people who chase fame.