WuKong Blog / Chinese Learning / How to Say Comedy in Chinese: 10 Common Terms

How to Say Comedy in Chinese: 10 Common Terms

Curious about how to say comedy in Chinese and other common terms for it? Join us on a linguistic journey to uncover the allure of comedy in Chinese. Imagine watching a side-splitting Chinese sitcom, but the language barrier leaves you missing the punchlines. Fear not! In this article, we’ll decode the linguistic intricacies of Chinese comedy, making it accessible to all. From playful wordplay to cultural nuances, we’ll delve into the vibrant Chinese comedy world. So, let’s embark on this adventure together and explore various ways to express laughter in Chinese.

How to Say Comedy in Chinese: 10 Common Terms

Discover the linguistic charm of Chinese comedy!

The Linguistic Perspective: Exploring Comedy in Chinese

In this section, we’ll delve into the linguistic nuances of comedy in Chinese, breaking down its meaning and providing examples for better understanding.

1. Meaning of Comedy in Chinese:

Comedy in Chinese is commonly expressed as “喜剧” (xǐjù), where “喜” (xǐ) means “joy” or “happiness,” and “剧” (jù) denotes “drama” or “play.” Together, “喜剧” (xǐjù) encapsulates the essence of humorous entertainment, aiming to bring joy and laughter to its audience.

2. Linguistic Nuances:

a. Wordplay and Puns:

Wordplay, or “言语游戏” (yányǔ yóuxì), is a prevalent comedic device in Chinese comedy. It involves clever manipulation of words, often utilizing homophones or similar-sounding phrases to create humorous effects.

For example, the phrase “十全十美” (shíquán shíměi), meaning “perfect” or “flawless,” can be playfully twisted into “十狗十嘴” (shígǒu shízuǐ), which sounds similar but means “ten dogs, ten mouths,” resulting in a humorous twist on the original expression.

b. Idioms and Proverbs:

Chinese culture is rich in idiomatic expressions, known as “成语” (chéngyǔ), which are frequently employed in comedic performances. Comedians often subvert the original meanings of these idioms to create unexpected and humorous situations.

For instance, the idiom “鹤立鸡群” (hèlìjīqún), originally meaning “to stand out among others,” could be humorously reinterpreted as “鹤立鸡腿” (hèlìjītuǐ), meaning “a crane standing among chicken legs,” to evoke laughter and amusement.

c. Tone and Rhythm:

The tone and rhythm of language play a crucial role in Chinese comedy. Performers often employ lively and upbeat tones, coupled with rapid-fire delivery, to enhance comedic timing and engage the audience.

For example, tongue twisters, or “顺口溜” (shùnkǒuliū), are popular linguistic challenges where performers deliver rapid sequences of words with precise pronunciation and rhythm. A classic example is “四是四,十是十,十四是十四,四十是四十” (sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shísì shì shísì, sìshí shì sìshí), meaning “Four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen, forty is forty,” which presents a humorous linguistic challenge for both performers and audiences.


  • Original Phrase: “你今天怎么了?” (Nǐ jīntiān zěnme le?) – “What’s wrong with you today?”

Comedic Twist: “你今天怎么狗了?” (Nǐ jīntiān zěnme gǒu le?) – “What’s wrong with you today, acting like a dog?” (Playful use of “怎么狗了” instead of “怎么了,” introducing unexpected humor).

  • Original Idiom: “画蛇添足” (Huàshétiānzú) – “To draw legs on a snake” (meaning to overdo something unnecessary)

Comedic Interpretation: “画蛇添翅” (Huàshétianchì) – “To draw wings on a snake” (a humorous variation on the original idiom, introducing an absurd image).

10 Common Terms for Comedy in Chinese: Exploring the Spectrum of Humor

While “喜剧” (xǐjù) is the standard Chinese term for comedy, several other terms and expressions encompass different facets of comedic entertainment.

1. 笑话 (Xiàohuà) – Jokes:

Laughing together is a universal language, and in Chinese, “笑话” (xiàohuà) are the building blocks of comedic expression. These short, witty anecdotes or narratives are crafted to elicit laughter and amusement from their audience.


Chinese: 有一只鸭子去买口红,结果买了只鸭嘴笔。(Yǒu yī zhī yāzi qù mǎi kǒuhóng, jiéguǒ mǎi le zhī yāzuǐ bǐ.)

English: A duck went to buy lipstick, and ended up buying a duckbill pen.

2. 搞笑 (Gǎoxiào) – Humor:

Humor is the spice of life, and in Chinese, “搞笑” (gǎoxiào) encapsulates the essence of comedic entertainment. Whether through slapstick antics, clever wordplay, or satirical wit, “搞笑” (gǎoxiào) encompasses a broad range of comedic styles and genres.


Chinese: 他总是用愚蠢的方式解决问题,真是搞笑。(Tā zǒng shì yòng yúchǔn de fāngshì jiějué wèntí, zhēn shì gǎoxiào.)

English: He always solves problems in foolish ways, it’s really humorous.

3. 幽默 (Yōumò) – Wit:

Wit is the hallmark of intelligence, and in Chinese, “幽默” (yōumò) represents the subtle art of humorous expression. From clever observations to ironic twists, “幽默” (yōumò) captures the essence of sophisticated humor that tickles the mind and warms the heart.


Chinese: 她的幽默感让人无法抗拒。(Tā de yōumò gǎn ràng rén wúfǎ kàngjù.)

English: Her wit is irresistible.

4. 逗笑 (Dòuxiào) – Amusement:

Laughter is contagious, and in Chinese, “逗笑” (dòuxiào) describes the act of amusing or entertaining others through comedic means. Whether through playful antics or humorous banter, “逗笑” (dòuxiào) fosters a sense of joy and camaraderie among its participants.


Chinese: 我们之间的逗笑时刻总是让我忘记了所有烦恼。(Wǒmen zhī jiān de dòu xiào shíkè zǒng shì ràng wǒ wàngjì le suǒyǒu fánnǎo.)

English: The moments of amusement between us always make me forget all my worries.

5. 戏谑 (Xìzhuó) – Banter:

Banter is the art of playful teasing, and in Chinese, “戏谑” (xìzhuó) embodies the playful exchange of witty remarks and humorous quips. From light-hearted teasing to friendly jests, “戏谑” (xìzhuó) adds a touch of levity to everyday interactions.


Chinese: 他们之间的戏谑充满了友好的气氛。(Tāmen zhī jiān de xìzhuó chōngmǎn le yǒuhǎo de qìfēn.)

English: The banter between them is full of friendly atmosphere.

6. 可笑 (Kěxiào) – Ridiculous:

Life is full of absurdities, and in Chinese, “可笑” (kěxiào) refers to the ridiculous or absurd aspects of life that evoke laughter and amusement. Whether through exaggerated situations or absurd characters, “可笑” (kěxiào) invites us to laugh at the absurdities of existence.


Chinese: 这个笑话太可笑了,我简直不敢相信。(Zhège xiàohuà tài kěxiào le, wǒ jiǎnzhí bù gǎn xiāngxìn.)

English: This joke is too ridiculous, I can hardly believe it.

7. 嬉笑 (Xīxiào) – Playful Laughter:

Laughter is the language of the soul, and in Chinese, “嬉笑” (xīxiào) describes the playful and carefree laughter that bubbles up from within. Whether through joyful antics or spontaneous humor, “嬉笑” (xīxiào) embodies the pure joy of laughter.


Chinese: 孩子们的嬉笑声充满了整个花园。(Háizimen de xīxiào shēng chōngmǎn le zhěnggè huāyuán.)

English: The playful laughter of the children fills the entire garden.

8. 顽皮 (Wánpí) – Mischievous:

Mischievousness is the spice of childhood, and in Chinese, “顽皮” (wánpí) describes the playful and lighthearted antics of the young at heart. Whether through innocent pranks or playful teasing, “顽皮” (wánpí) adds a sense of mischief to everyday life.


Chinese: 小狗偷偷地咬了我的拖鞋,看起来真是顽皮。(Xiǎogǒu tōutōu de yǎo le wǒ de tuōxié, kàn qǐlái zhēn shì wánpí.)

English: The puppy secretly bit my slipper, it looks really mischievous.

9. 娱乐 (Yúlè) – Entertainment:

Entertainment is the soul of society, and in Chinese, “娱乐” (yúlè) encompasses the myriad forms of amusement and diversion that bring joy and laughter to people’s lives. Whether through comedy, music, or theater, “娱乐” (yúlè) fosters a sense of community and shared enjoyment.


Chinese: 这个喜剧节目带来了无尽的娱乐。(Zhège xǐjù jiémù dàilái le wújìn de yúlè.)

English: This comedy show brings endless entertainment.

10. 滑稽 (Huájī) – Comical:

Life is full of comedic moments, and in Chinese, “滑稽” (huájī) describes the comical or amusing aspects of life that evoke laughter and mirth. Whether through humorous mishaps or quirky characters, “滑稽” (huájī) invites us to find the humor in everyday situations.


Chinese: 他的表演太滑稽了,观众们都笑翻了。(Tā de biǎoyǎn tài huájī le, guānzhòngmen dōu xiàofān le.)

English: His performance was too comical, the audience burst into laughter.

FAQs about Comedy in Chinese:

Q1. What genres of comedy are popular in Chinese entertainment?

Chinese comedy spans various genres, including slapstick, satire, romantic comedy, and sitcoms, catering to diverse audience preferences and tastes.

Q2. How does Chinese comedy reflect cultural values and traditions?

Chinese comedy frequently incorporates traditional values, familial dynamics, and societal norms into its humor, offering insights into Chinese culture while entertaining audiences.

Q3. Are there any famous Chinese comedians or comedic actors?

Yes, renowned Chinese comedians like Stephen Chow, Huang Bo, and Zhao Benshan have gained international acclaim for their comedic talents and contributions to the Chinese entertainment industry.


In this article, we’ve explored the colorful world of comedy in Chinese. We’ve learned about various terms like “笑话” (xiàohuà) for jokes, “幽默” (yōumò) for wit, and more, each adding a unique flavor to the art of laughter. By understanding these terms, we’ve gained insights into Chinese comedy’s linguistic nuances and cultural expressions. Through playful wordplay, witty banter, and mischievous antics, Chinese comedy brings joy and amusement to audiences worldwide. This article serves as a guide, offering valuable insights and solutions to bridge language barriers and enjoy the delightful world of “comedy in Chinese.”

留资卡片:中文(en): Book Now-Online Chinese Language classes for 3 to 18 year-old students