China "Talk Show":

Co-construction of offense, resonance and emotional relief

  Text/Kong Degang

  Published in the 968th issue of China News Weekly on October 19, 2020

  Back in 2017, Xiaoguo Culture, which had just emerged in the field of variety shows, began to record the first season of "Talk Show"-at this time the entire production team was in a period of dazed exploration.

The success of the previous "Tucao Conference" relied on the classic program format created by the American "Comedy Center". In addition, there is no other "talk show" variety model in the world that can be used as a reference for Xiaoguo culture.

Therefore, from the beginning, the competition system of "Talk Show Conference" was not serious and changed at will. Its first season was as loose as the internal party of Xiaoguo Company. When friends gather together, they will have a joke. Become a spectator if you don't have a story, and the show didn't finalize the competition system until the fourth period.

At that time, it may be difficult to predict that the third season of "Talk Show" three years later is already one of the most watched language variety shows on the entire network.

  The "talk show" in the context of the Chinese Internet has become the most acceptable and disseminated form of language comedy among contemporary youth groups.

The "Talk Show" variety show based on the American "stand-up comedy" form, with a time limit of five minutes, based on the live listening to the audience's vote, and a rigorous talent contest as the process model, is entirely from the context of mainland China Internally developed independently, there are few examples in the world, so that "Talk Show", a broader term that is closer to the form of variety shows, has replaced "stand-up comedy" as a synonym for this form of performance. .

In the United States, stand-up comedies based on theaters, bars, and open wheat have transformed into a kind of monster that seamlessly integrates with variety shows, the Internet and competition, and is neither stand-up comedy nor talk show-just like Wang Jianguo once I have warned my colleagues, "Talk show and stand-up comedy are two things."

  Contemporary China's understanding of "talk show" is no longer the "Dong Duxiao" and "Shanghai style clear mouth" in the early years, nor the American "weekend night scene" and "囧 Situ daily show", and it is not even a lot. An important choice for urban white-collar workers’ night life, the “offline open wheat” that is hard to find, but a “square speech” in the form of a variety show that requires a comedy effect: every issue of “Talk Show Conference” is accompanied by the broadcast The paragraphs that output opinions and values ​​are edited into short videos and appear on the hot search, providing a new round of splash and traffic for the hustle and bustle of Chinese online discussion space-this kind of "talk show" with Chinese characteristics is even better than traditional TV debates , The speech contest is closer to the category of classical "rhetoric" in ancient Greek theaters and on the Civic Square in ancient Rome. Everything is inseparable from exquisite techniques and structures, the output of values ​​that please the audience, and the manipulation of critical emotions And incitement.

  "Talk Show Conference" seems to be very free in theme and discussion content, and there are indeed some works that are very ridiculous in form and content, but the core hidden in the logic of the show’s performance is still the "Tucao Conference". The entertainment industry is transformed into ordinary people’s daily life: no matter what the theme of each episode, most actors are still looking for "targets" that can inspire anger, confusion and helplessness in the audience in their daily work and life, in order to respond to events and phenomena. Tucao and negative emotions are used to output opinions and become the "spokesperson" of the audience that transcends all restrictions on regions, industries, and classes.

Tired of work, dislike of overtime, negative emotions towards the boss, as Party B’s anger and helplessness towards Party A, dissatisfaction with those in power, doubts and doubts about certain social phenomena... in this "Life Tucao Conference" In the performance logic of "", comedy actually takes a back seat. Aggression ("offensive") and the expression of negative public emotions occupy a more important position. The criterion of "funny" gradually gives way to emotional "resonance".

  These talk show actors must carefully design their own views and images from a rational perspective, so that the audience feels that "he is one of us."

The different treatment that the actor Xiaokuan encountered in the two shows can explain the problem: in the first episode, he appeared in front of the audience as a self-deprecating image of "Second Generation". Although he expressed that he has more money than the audience, he tried his best to perform. The intimacy of "Money is all wind blowing" and "I am essentially a poor man" narrowed the distance between his personality and the audience, and his well-designed personality contrast won the audience's love; however, the second issue He used his wife as the object of ridicule in the topic of marriage. Although the quality of the jokes is still good, most of the female audiences in the audience feel quite uncomfortable.

More importantly, in the process of repeatedly complaining about his wife, his unconsciously revealed "high view" of himself destroyed the "self-deprecating" image he created in the last issue, and the distance from the audience was once again farther away—— "The troubles of the rich have nothing to do with me."

  As a result, today's audience's need for emotional "resonance" has surpassed the need for the personality of the talk show itself.

Rather than saying that the spreading power of the Internet makes the laughter and aesthetics of the younger generation increasingly flat and "converging", it is better to say that talk show practitioners have found targeted and more class-solidified emotional resonance.

Talk show actors are often born half-way. Their professional background before becoming full-time comedians should have been very rich creative material. In the early "Talk Show Conference", we can see a large number of programmers background actors tell their stories. Interesting things about work, such as the short-lived programmer representative Wei Ruochen, the "talk show king" Pang Bo, and Hulan who had the dual personality of programmers and financial elites when they debuted, but such performances have certain industry and professional thresholds-overemphasizing specificity Industry content, forcing talk show actors to maintain "personal design" with weak experience, letting talk show actors act as life mentors, indulging in the presentation of spiritual chicken soup and its "pretentious philosophy", often destroys the atmosphere of comedy. And experience.

  In order to achieve a more general emotional resonance, the actors' narration of interesting work and their attacks on daily life phenomena gradually became empty and general. The object of complaining was changed from specific industry phenomena and inside stories to more common "overtime" and "riding the subway." Symbolic stereotypes such as "wait for takeaway".

One theory believes that this phenomenon is caused by the fact that the previous work experience of the talk show actors has been exhausted and the lack of new life experience, but another example has made other explanations-this may be the actors' intentional choice. Wang Mian, who won the championship without any dispute in three seasons, complained about the fact that professionals do PPT every day in a performance, which aroused widespread resonance. Expressions such as "I don't want to go to work" emphasizing the audience's emotional commonality are more able to detonate the audience. mood.

An "angry" talk show actor, if his views are recognized by the audience, then the amount of incitement to emotions is incalculable. Therefore, trying to create common content that can inspire "resonance" has become an inevitable choice for the current talk show creation-although This has led to the actor's creation gradually deviating from real life, and more of a direct satisfaction for the audience's need to express negative emotions.

  Perhaps, when analyzing the popularity of "talk show" variety shows in the current Chinese Internet context, we need to jump out of this "information cocoon room" hidden by infinite emotional resonance and guidance: in the "Talk Show Conference" Ordinary people’s endorsements help the audience to dissolve the negative emotions in daily life. It is actually a precise attack on contemporary urban youth white-collar workers and the sale of opinions. The more the program deviates from the form of comedy and the output of values ​​and opinions, it also becomes more distant Push away other circle groups that do not have the right to speak online.

  So, the final problem of "drawing money from the bottom" is that just like Li Dan’s most exciting stand-up comedy performance in recent years about saving a cat or saving a painting, it took place in the debate variety show "Qi Hua Shuo", in the context of the Chinese Internet. This stand-up comedy is born out of stand-up comedy and is called a talk show, but it is neither a stand-up comedy nor a talk show monster. I am afraid it is just a vain signifier. It can be replaced by other new things. It has not found a stand-up comedy. Show the self-discipline of art itself.

We are in an era that requires meaning, value and viewpoints for everything. We have infinite enthusiasm for the "square expression" in Athens and Rome thousands of years ago. Any art and performance form must create a landscape The space for expression of opinions allows us to accelerate any rational and irrelevant verbal expression into a deep-rooted imitation of ideological rhetoric. The future is likely to happen, regardless of whether the “talk show” with Chinese characteristics can How popular it develops, it will only be a channel for expressing opinions and expressing emotions, not the "talk show" itself.

  (The author is a lecturer of literature and art at Nanjing Normal University, an independent drama creator and critic)

  China News Weekly, Issue 38, 2020

  Statement: The publication of "China News Weekly" manuscript is authorized in writing