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May 28, 2010

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Comic taking his act abroad

SHANGHAI popular comedian Zhou Libo will stage an international tour next year, contrary to his previous statements that he would not do out-of-Shanghai shows.

"This is not out of commercial purpose," he said at a press conference yesterday, "it is for the pursuit of the value of the brand."

Zhou's so-called Shanghai-style clean talk won him instant citywide fame in late 2008. Local audiences flooded into theaters to watch his comic show, spoken in Shanghainese.

With audiences growing, he transferred his stage from the 600-seat Lyceum Theatre to the 1,300-seat Majestic Theatre and again to the 3,700-seat Shanghai International Gymnastics Center.

Despite the swift expansion, he used to tell local audiences he would not take his act national because his stand-up performance wouldn't easily translate for people from different cultures.

"It's not necessary for all the water drops to flow into the sea," he said in the past. "I'm the one ripping in the Huangpu River."

However, the water drop now seems to heading seaward, with Zhou laying out a schedule for amusing people outside Shanghai.

As a warm-up of the tour, he will do 20-plus performances in nearby Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang Province starting in July.

Next year, he plans to travel abroad. He's had invitations from overseas countries including the United States, Australia and Japan.

He said he had no worries about losing his Shanghai audience by leaving for a while, and refuted claims that his ticket sales had declined in a public backlash over his break-up with former partner Guan Dongtian.

"There's no empty seat in my past performances," he said. "Moreover, I will not allow empty seats in my future shows."

Although the theater might be full, tickets to his shows have dropped in value. Some months ago, people were willing to pay thousands of yuan, double or triple the original price. But now a lot of tickets are sold under face value, according to, China's largest online retail portal.

Zhou plans to return to the smaller stage, the 1,300-seat Majestic Theatre, when he returns to the local stage later this year.

Zhou fell out with long-term mentor and sidekick, Guan Dongtian, earlier this year.


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