Hou Baolin


Hou Baolin
b. 1917, Beijing; d. 1993, Beijing
Xiangsheng (comic dialogue) actor
Hou Baolin began learning xiangsheng at sixteen and became an actor at twenty-three. A master of humour for half a century, Hou brought new life to the art and was known to every Chinese. Replacing the vulgarism and obscenity prevalent in old xiangsheng with wholesome jocular entertainment, Hou provided his audience with aesthetic ecstasy. In fact, the success of his performances was due to his ardent pursuit of aesthetic and professional perfection. He had acquired a characteristic style of his own through years of practice: jocular without being vulgar and humorous without being cunning.
His lively and witty skits were amusing as well as enlightening.
Hou not only wrote xiangsheng scripts but also collaborated with Professor Wu Xiaozhen on research into this art form. With six months of schooling, Hou became qualified as Peking University’s home professor and published prolifically. His success was partly due to his natural gift but largely to his hard work. He taught himself and read widely: jesting, comedy, history and miscellaneous classics. He also adapted from foreign resources. He believed that a funny face alone could not make a great comedian. Instead, one must know how to learn from others and be blessed with talent, diligence and a good teacher, one that was knowing rather than renowned. His most popular performances included ‘An Anachronous Battle’ (Guangong zhan Qinqiong), ‘Change of Trades’ (Gaihang) and ‘Yin, Yang and the Five Elements’ (Yinyang wuxing).
HU MINGRONG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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