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Hardback: $65.00
ISBN-13: 9781939161048
Published: March 2019

China's Chaplin: Comic Stories and Farces by Xu Zhuodai

  • Hoaxes! Jokes! Farces and fun! China’s Chaplin introduces the imagination of Xu Zhuodai (1880–1958), a comic dynamo who made Shanghai laugh through the tumultuous decades of the pre-Mao era. Xu was a popular and prolific literary humorist who styled himself variously as Master of the Broken Chamberpot Studio, Dr. Split-Crotch Pants, Dr. Hairy Li, and Old Man Soy Sauce. He was also an entrepreneur who founded gymnastics academies, theater troupes, film companies, magazines, and a home condiments business.

    While pursuing this varied career, Xu Zhuodai made a name for himself as a “Charlie Chaplin of the East.” He wrote and acted in stage comedies and slapstick films, compiled joke books, penned humorous advice columns, dabbled in parodic verse, and wrote innumerable works of comic fiction. China’s Chaplin contains a selection of Xu’s best stories and stage plays (plus a smattering of jokes) that will answer the questions that keep you up at night. What is a father’s duty when he and his son are courting the same prostitute? What ingenious method might save the world from economic crisis after a world war? Who is Shanghai’s most outrageous grandmother? What is the best revenge against plagiarists, thieves, landlords, or spouses? And why should you never, never, never pull a hair from a horse’s tail?

    • Christopher Rea is professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia and the author of The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China (2015). He recently edited Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities (2018) and, with Bruce Rusk, translated The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (2017).