OLYMPICS / Olympic Life

Tea and humor go down well
By Chen Jia
China Daily Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-08-07 08:06


Cafes in the hutong on Bell and Drum Tower Street are popular with tourists, but for locals it is one particular teahouse - the Kinglake.

They can be seen sitting around wooden and plastic tables sipping their favorite drinks, engaging in crosstalk and watching TV broadcasts of the Olympic torch relay.

"My granddaughter will welcome the relay on the streets of Beijing later. It is pity I am too old for that," 72-year- old Li suzhen said.

"I prefer to watch the relay on TV while also taking part in crosstalk."

Zhai Guoqiang (left) and Chen Yi perform crosstalk, a traditional Chinese comedic act in the form of a dialogue at a teahouse in Beijing August 6, 2008. [China Daily]

Crosstalk is a traditional Chinese comedic performance in the form of a dialogue or, less often, a monologue or, even less often, a multi-player talk show. The language is rich in puns and allusions, and spoken rapidly.

"Crosstalk is a kind of social commentary on Chinese popular concerns and the torch relay is the hottest topic in Beijing, so we will add references to the torch in our performance today," actor, Liang Honghao, said.

"I have been watching the live broadcasts of the torch relay since 8 am in order to add some humor to today's performance."

Cui Hong, 68, and her friends, members of an amateur running team, have been talking about the relay for several weeks, and finally decided to watch it together at the teahouse Wednesday.

"One of our team members is a torchbearer today," she said. "The Olympics should be a happy and relaxing sporting event, and I feel it right now."

Lin Zhe, a 31-year-old man who works for an IT company in Beijing, was following the torchbearers on his bicycle when he lost his way.

"I ended up at the teahouse and the entertaining crosstalk convinced me to stay.

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