Feel that your jokes have been falling flat lately? Enough that you've even started wondering whether China is a grand experiment in irony and deadpan humor? This week on Sinica, hosts Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are delighted to invite guests David Moser and Jesse Appell on our show for a discussion on the differences between Chinese and American senses of humor, asking why these two cultures feel so different and where - if anywhere - they meet?

If you're a longtime Sinica listener, you'll already know David Moser as a regular guest on our show and as director of the CET Immersion program in Beijing. You may not be aware that David also studied Chinese crosstalk with Ding Guangquan and has written on Chinese humor in the past. Jesse Appell is has also given a lot of thought to this subject, first as an academic doing research into contemporary Chinese humor, and second as the producer of a Gangnam Style parody video that ended up spreading through the Chinese Internet.

Enjoy Sinica? We're actually sorry about getting the show out so late this week: the Internet ended up being quite slow and that delayed us. Since this could always happen in the future, if you're looking for an easy way to keep up-to-date on what we produce, feel free to subscribe to our iTunes feed. This will download new episodes for you automatically as they become available. And let us know if you have any suggestions or feedback at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 download]
 said on
May 13, 2013

Stifled Laughter: How the Communist Party Killed Chinese Humor, by David Moser for Danwei


Media Schizophrenia in China, by David Moser for Danwei


Invasion, poison and tofu: Chinese petition Obama for help at the FT blog beyondbrics


Laowai Style, by Jesse Appell


Joe Wong, stand-up comic, by David Moser for Danwei




The Beige of Beijing, by Lionel Shriver for Standpoint



Saturday Night Live Korea



North Korean video with "wulitou" subtitles



E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, by David Foster Wallace (PDF)

 said on
May 14, 2013
As always, an informative and entertaining show. To me, this time there was a little too much about the US and US humor and not quite enough about China and Chinese humor, particularly given the talent around the table.
 said on
May 14, 2013
Kaiser -- If you like Lin Yutang you should also check out his contemporaries Qian Zhongshu and Zhou Zuoren.
 said on
May 17, 2013
Another excellent show, you guys! Hearing about what Jesse is doing in China makes me think that I should go back and try to create a Chinese-language version of Saturday night live, or at least try western-style stand up comedy in China.
 said on
May 26, 2013
Don't know how you could do an entire podcast on humor in China and not mention Guo Degang. He is perhaps the only reason crosstalk is still alive and kicking as a public art form in tension, however minimal, with authority. He is the face of comedy in China and you all said nothing about him! Sure his skits are full of bathroom humor and sexual innuendo (proving David wrong that contemporary crosstalk has been "cleaned up") but they are funny nonetheless and Chinese audiences find them absolutely hilarious. Also his 单口相声 (solo cross-talk) performances are, to me at least, an extraordinary example of funny, entertaining, long-form oral story telling (unaided by any sort of visual media) in the internet age. You all seemed much more intent on mourning the passing of the golden age instead of searching for its traces in the present moment.
 said on
June 20, 2013
Can you only listen to these podcasts on an iPod if you pay for the subscription? I downloaded them, but they won't play. Other subscription podcasts I have will not allow you to download them without a password.
 said on
June 21, 2013

There is no password protection or DRM on any of our shows. Safari on iOS devices do not support flash, so our current flash player won't work on those devices. The workaround is either subscribing and downloading directly from the webpage, or subscribe to our (free) feeds in iTunes. Search for either "Popup Chinese" or "Sinica".

For all of the Sinica shows, we have a "standalone mp3 download" link right in the introduction to try and make it easier for people as well. Clicking on that in Safari should open the file and play it right in your browser.


 said on
June 21, 2013

Thanks for the reply. I was confused...I was trying to listen to the podcast on Sinica, which doesn't work for some reason. Once I downloaded the healthcare podcast and others from Popup Chinese they all work great!

I'm not sure if I misunderstood another post, but is it possible to get a running transcript in pinyin or hanzi for the advanced lessons on an iPhone, or is downloading the transcript the only way to go? I'm usually studying on the go, so busting out my hard copy or pdf transcript would be difficult, but following the dialog on my phone or iPad would be more efficient. Thanks!
 said on
June 22, 2013
hey semeyers,

Sorry for the lag in replying to this. We don't have transcripts for the entire conversation in most of the advanced podcasts yet, although Echo and Sylvia have put together a few and we're trying to get the rest transcribed.

That said, the hanzi/pinyin/english for all dialogues and vocab lists ARE embedded in all of the mp3 files of premium subscribers. They are basically embedded PDF files, but it is a bit tricky viewing them on iOS now since the new podcasts app doesn't support embedded lyrics yet. The workaround is either to delete the podcasts app so that the mp3 files are played using the normal mp3 player, or downloading the shows to a computer using iTunes and then syncing them to the iPhone/iPad like any other music files.

If you need any help with it, just send me an email to our service@popupchinese.com account and let me know your setup and whether you can use iTunes or not.


Mark Lesson Studied