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Jesse Appell: Connect China and the west through humor

04-28-2013 17:39 BJT Special Report: China Dream |

Jesse Appell’s idea for “Laowai style” started from one of his friends’ text messages.

“I had a friend of mine who texted me,” Appell said. “She said, oh Jesse, have you seen this ‘Gangnam Style’ video? I said yes, I have, it has been everywhere.”

His friend then suggested that he make his own “Gangnam Style” video. Appell then said he should make “Laowai Style.”

He and his friends started filming at 9 o’clock in the morning. They filmed straight through until 11 o’clock at night, shooting the entire video in one day.

Appell said he completely had no idea how popular this video would be.

“Laowai Style” received one and a half million views on the internet, and that number is still rising. But Jesse said he himself hasn’t really felt any changes in his life from the video’s immense popularity.


Through “Laowai Style”, Jesse hopes to help tell the real story about how foreigners live in Beijing as well as introduce Chinese people and their culture to the West.

Although “Laowai Style” was a huge success, few know Jesse’s personal life as a Fulbright scholar who has extensively researched Chinese comedy. He studied xiangsheng, China’s unique form of “cross-talk” comedy, with master Ding Guangquan, who also previously taught Canadian entertainer Dashan and other prominent foreign students. Appell said learning xiangsheng has been a great way to continue increasing his language skills and learn to understand the intricacies of Chinese humor.

Appell said he believes that humor is a critical way to connect China and the United States.  In terms of US-China relations, he said, people often forget that bringing people together, rather than just making speeches, is critical to improving ties.

Appell’s China Dream is to find ways to increase dialogue between China and the West through humor. People inside China are trying very hard to understand the West; the West should try harder to understand China, he said.

Editor:James |Source:

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