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Uniting through laughter

Updated: 2024-06-05 07:29 ( China Daily )
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Zhu Dunhua (left) and Wang Zongnan ride around the campus of Tsinghua University to find inspiration for their comedic sketch, Free for Hometown Folks. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Two Gen Zers from across the Taiwan Strait unite to craft a humorous sketch blending mainland and Taiwan culture, highlighting the power of comedy to bridge divides through laughter.

Comedy has a unique way of bringing people together. This is a belief shared by many comedians, including Wang Zongnan and Zhu Dunhua, two Gen Zers from across the Taiwan Strait.

Wang, hailing from Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan province, is a graduate student at Tsinghua University and a devoted enthusiast of stand-up comedy. Zhu, originally from Taipei in China's Taiwan region and now also studying at THU, serves as the president of the THU Comedy Club.

In just seven days, the two collaborated to create a comedic sketch based on a topic related to Taiwan. Their performance on March 29 at THU's i-Center was met with resounding applause and laughter.

Their creative process is featured in the latest episode of China Daily's Strait Forward, a program that focuses on youth from both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

Their show, titled Free for Hometown Folks, told a story set in a barber shop in Chiayi county, Taiwan, in 1999.

Wang portrayed the barber, a Sichuan native who had lived in Taiwan for over 40 years and decided to offer free haircuts to his fellow Sichuanese. Zhu played a 25-year-old local woman who, in a humorous twist, attempted various schemes to pass herself off as a Sichuanese, setting the stage for a delightful farce.

Wang introduced the concept for this sketch, explaining, "For a sketch, we typically need a comedic premise, something absurdly funny. It could be a character quirk or a particular setting. The humor escalates as the sketch progresses."

Speaking about the elderly man in the Taiwan barbershop, Wang said, "He relocated from Sichuan. So, when he encounters someone from his hometown, he becomes nostalgic. He gets really excited and offers them a free haircut."

Zhu agreed with his idea. "I find it quite plausible," she said. "It resonates with the feelings of homesickness that mainlanders in Taiwan experienced during that time."

Zhu herself also identified with these sentiments. "My name, 'hua', was given to me by my father because he wanted me to remember my Chinese heritage," she explained. "My sister's name also contains 'hua' in it."

Now that Zhu's family has moved from Taiwan to Beijing, she aims to pursue her career there. "Beijing feels like my second home," she said.

Reflecting on her comedic journey, Zhu remembered listening to many mainland radio comedy programs during her childhood, such as The Merry Teahouse and Laugh Your Way in the Wild West, as well as traditional crosstalk, which significantly influenced her comedic personality.

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