Zhou Libo will perform at a 90-minute show at the Expo Culture Center on Tuesday. [Gao Erqiang/China Daily]
Shanghainese stand-up comedian Zhou Libo will perform at a 90-minute show at the Expo Culture Center on Tuesday before embarking on his first tour of cities in the Yangtze River Delta.
"I'll be talking a lot about the Expo pavilions - I'll go to the Expo Garden and check out the latest news to find new material," said the popular comedian.
Zhou is the first comedian to create a one-man show using Shanghai dialect to tell jokes about local culture and lifestyles.
Like the size of the venues where he performs, Zhou's popularity has grown rapidly in the past few years.
He initially gave performances at the Lyceum Theater, which has 680 seats.
Last year, he performed at the 1,300-seat Majestic Theater and then at the 3,700-seat Shanghai International Gymnastic Center.
Referring to the Expo, Zhou said: "Shanghai has surprised the world, but Shanghai is not at all surprised at the world."
He said that the Expo will be an integral part of his performance.
"I will offer information and knowledge about the Expo - such as some historical anecdotes."
"I don't just tell jokes - my show is always closely connected to contemporary social life," Zhou said.
"It's a great challenge for me to grasp the essence of contemporary culture. I have been the writer of my material since the very beginning.
The creative process has brought me great joy that I am not ready yet to share with someone else."
Earlier this year, a dispute between Zhou and his former artistic director, Peking opera singer Guan Dongtian, seemed to have damaged Zhou's image and reputation.
But Zhou is confident about his attraction to audiences, claiming that his popularity has been constantly growing and expanding beyond Shanghai.
"Many Shanghainese are from Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. The Yangtz
e River Delta is the soul of Shanghai - that's why I've decided to start my national tour in this area," he said.
Zhou said he is not worried about losing his audiences' support because he does not always perform in his signature Shanghai dialect.
"If language were the barrier, how can you explain Shakespeare? His work has been translated to more than 100 languages and he's still a great writer," he said.
"I don't just please audiences with Shanghai dialect. The value of my show lies in my original ideas - about childhood memories, about dreams for the future and culture itself."
Wu Xiaoming, president of the Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group, said Zhou is a representative brand of Shanghai culture and his performances will bring Shanghai culture to the Yangtze River Delta region as well as other parts of China.
"This is the lead-up to Zhou's China tour and preparation for his world tour next year," Wu said.