Red Star

Zhou Libo

Zhou Libo

With his hair parted on the left side and his serious facial expression, Zhou Libo looks more like your typical bad guy from an old Chinese movie, says the China Daily. Zhou, 42, started his entertainment career as an actor, playing minor roles in several Shanghai’s soap operas. His big break came in 2006, when his friend persuaded him to try stand-up comedy. He is now a household name.

Why is he famous?

Zhou speaks in a mixture of Shanghai dialect, Mandarin and sometimes English. He pokes fun at urban lives, as well as some of the country’s political and economic issues. His fans like him because he is not afraid to be controversial. Zhou often mocks high profile politicians like former president Jiang Zemin and even Premier Wen Jiabao.

That has made him popular enough to sell out 45 of the 62 stand-up comedy shows that he was scheduled to perform this year. Touts are selling tickets for Rmb1,500, almost four times their face value.

Why is he in the news?

He was the most popular Google search keyword in the China this year, says the US-based search engine. The results (from searches on Google.cn) were part of Google’s annual Zeitgeist ranking, reports the South China Morning Post. Taking note of Zhou’s popularity, CCTV has asked him to perform in next year’s Spring Festival Gala, a television extravaganza that gets around 1 billion viewers.

But in a probable first in the show’s history, Zhou declined the invitation.

“I can only be responsible to my Shanghai fans, I am not ready to be responsible to the people of the whole nation,” says Zhou. CCTV ain’t laughing.


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