Everything’s a Joke for China’s Goddess of Gags

Using sexism and discrimination as fodder, the country’s top female stand-up comic is getting the last laugh.

SHANGHAI — At a white-walled photo studio, China’s queen of stand-up comedy is struggling to keep a straight face. With eyelids coated in glitter and hair styled into waves, Wang Siwen looks every bit like she belongs on the glossy pages of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar China. If only she could stop giggling.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that 31-year-old Wang is still uncomfortable posing for magazines — after all, she’s only been China’s most famous female stand-up comic for a year.

There’s not a lot of competition for the crown: Wang is the only known female full-time stand-up comedian in China. While women aren’t an uncommon sight in Chinese sketch shows, they’re still fairly rare in the country’s small stand-up comedy scene. The art form entered mainstream consciousness in 2016 with the immensely popular “Roast Convention,” a Chinese version of American series “Comedy Central Roast,” in which comedians trash celebrities and each other. The Chinese show attracted billions of clicks, bringing Western-style stand-up comedy to the public’s attention and helping to promote promising stand-up stars, including one woman: Wang.

In recent months, Wang has gained an additional accolade: She’s been hailed as China’s answer to fictional American comedian Mrs. Maisel, the central character in Golden Globe-winning American comedy-drama “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” From her fans’ perspective, Wang — who hails from northwestern China’s Shanxi province — has a lot in common with Mrs. Maisel, a fictional Jewish housewife-turned-comedian living in 1950s New York City. Both shine in the mostly male-dominated stand-up comedy scene, and both married men with equally big dreams in the comedy business. There’s even a slight physical likeness: Like Mrs. Maisel, Wang wears her hair in a bob.

A still frame from the TV series ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.’ Nicole Rivelli/Amazon/IC

But Wang never made it through the whole season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Continue to read the full article here.


-This is original content by Sixth Tone and has been republished with permission.