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July 21, 2010

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Comedian hopes for last laugh

SHANGHAI comedian Zhou Libo probably isn't laughing now as his former mentor Guan Dongtian is suing him to regain shares in a company they started together.

The share are valued at about 2 million yuan (US$295,202).

The Changning District People's Court confirmed yesterday that it accepted the lawsuit on Monday and the court is expected to open the hearing next month.

Guan said in the indictment that he owned part of the shares in the company he set up with Zhou and he would provide evidence in court.

Guan declined to comment yesterday. Zhou's assistant said yesterday that Zhou wasn't in Shanghai and was unaware of the lawsuit.

Zhou, 43, shot to fame in the city with Clean Talk, a stand-up comedy show in Shanghainese dialect, early last year.

But he was criticized for ending his working relationship with Guan, a renowned Peking Opera singer from Shanghai who supported Zhou's career. Guan was the artistic director of the show and also introduced Zhou on stage.

The official line is that they split over artistic differences, but money issues were at the core, insiders said.

Zhou once told reporters that the split was natural as the two had "disagreements over artistic performance."

Meanwhile, Guan had told reporters that Zhou owed him a debt of several million yuan because he provided the bulk of investment when Zhou's performance group was established.

Zhou denied this.

Guan was said to be paid 25,000 yuan per show for Clean Talk. If so, he earned about 3 million yuan last year as Zhou's stand-up performances totaled a little more than 100 shows.

Zhou thought he had paid the debt in this way because Guan wasn't " needed" while Guan has said in the past it was fair pay for his work.

Zhou had previously given most of the credit for the show's success to Guan.

After the split, Zhou said in his blog that he wouldn't support Guan forever just because he once contributed a little to his success.

Zhou even implied that Guan was a beggar trying to profit from Zhou's fame in his micro blog on Monday after Guan reportedly planned a show for female comedian Hu Qingyun. The show was viewed as an attempt to compete with Clean Talk.


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