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Taiwan Entertainer Lung-hau Dies

March 17, 1999

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Wei Lung-hau, a master of exchanging jokes in an art form known as ``xiang sheng″ has died at 70, ending an era of Chinese arts and culture that prevailed under Taiwan’s policy of seeking unification with mainland China.

Wei died March 7 of prostate cancer and was remembered Wednesday at his funeral.

Wei was among hundreds of actors, actresses and other performers brought to Taiwan in 1949 after Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government lost a civil war to the Communists on the mainland.

Wei and his long-time performing partner, Wu Chao-nan, attracted large audiences with ``xiang sheng,″ an entertainment form where two people exchange rapid-fire jokes with incredible language skills, sing songs and tell humorous tales.

In a thick Beijing patois, they made the cross-talking art popular in Taiwan at a time when entertainment was rare.

They succeeded also because they made Chinese matters the theme of their cross-talk, coinciding with an official policy to promote Chinese culture and arts to reinforce the Nationalists’ claim to be the sole legitimate government of all China.

Among tearful mourners at his funeral was his partner Wu, who has largely retired and now lives in the United States. Hundreds of entertainers and fans also attended.

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