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Age of IrreverenceA New History of Laughter in China$
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Christopher Rea

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520283848

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520283848.001.0001

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Farce 滑稽魂‎

Farce 滑稽魂‎

Chapter:
(p.106) 5 Farce 滑稽魂‎
Source:
Age of Irreverence
Author(s):

Christopher Rea

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520283848.003.0005

While many of China’s leading cultural critics were cutting each other down to size in the late 1920s and early 1930s, popular writers of a more entrepreneurial bent, particularly in Shanghai, were focusing on just being funny (huaji). They were preoccupied with the absurdities of urban life, especially hoaxes, scams, and practical jokes, perpetrated in print media, such as plagiarism and bogus advertisements. Farce was particularly popular among writers like Xu Zhuodai who also worked as editors, actors, playwrights, filmmakers, radio broadcasters, and consumer product vendors. In their stories, they celebrated swindles for fun and profit and often cast entrepreneurs like themselves as dynamic figures uniquely suited to navigating the pitfalls of modernity. Xu’s style of huaji farce proved popular, his innocuous form of comic entertainment offering stimulating fantasies of the everyday in which frauds, con women, and pranksters were not just welcome companions but even models of emulation.

Keywords:   farce, hoaxes, swindles, scams, practical jokes, plagiarism, slapstick cinema, Shanghai, Xu Zhuodai, urban culture

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