[R.I.P.] Ma Ji (11/20/06) Prominent Chinese Comedian
- Ma Ji, 72; Chinese comedian best known for satirical routines
From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Ma Ji, 72, a roly-poly Chinese comedian best known for his mastery of
puns and satirical dialogues with other performers, died Wednesday of
a heart attack, state media reported.
Ma, whose given name was Ma Shuhuai, died at the Anzhen Hospital in
Beijing, Chinese Central Television reported.
A biography on the official China Daily website said Ma was born in
Beijing in 1934 and had worked in a textile factory before he started
studying xiangsheng, or "crosstalk," in 1951.
Crosstalk is a traditional Chinese comic form involving one or two
actors bantering on a fixed topic, usually at a quickening pace, that
relies heavily on slang, puns and imitation.
He joined China's Central Broadcasting Recitation and Ballad Troupe
in 1956 and later became a regular feature on CCTV's hugely popular
Lunar New Year variety show, it said.
Ma, who was pudgy and had big ears, was a talented mimic and
particularly quick with puns. He innovated the crosstalk art form by
focusing on the absurdities of China's rapid modernization and other
Among his more famous monologues was "The Universal Brand Cigarette,"
in which he played a cigarette salesman with a gift for gab and a
hopelessly shoddy product. The skit poked fun at newly rich Chinese
obsessed with brand names but blind to quality.