Jesse Appell Performance

On February 9, 2017, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center & the GW Confucius Institute co-sponsored an interactive student workshop & performance by American comedian in China and Fulbright Scholar alumni, Jesse Appell. 

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Photo-Gallery

GW CI Workshop & Performance Photo-Gallery 



February 9, 2017 – 11:15AM – Conducting a workshop in DC, Jessie Appell, a renowned American comedian living in Beijing, China, met with a 25 Chinese language students from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and George Washington University.

Together, they performed various improv comedy games and activities – all in Mandarin Chinese! Participants had to think on their feet quickly for the activities, racking their brains for some less-used Chinese vocabulary. Although a bit nervous at first, all participants warmed up  and loosened up, thanks to Jesse’s friendly approach and passion for comedy.

To wrap up the workshop, Jesse led a discussion on the challenges of doing improv and specifically doing it in Chinese, from requiring a degree of creativity and spontaneity to dropping barriers of resistance and really acting the part. Students left the workshop knowing it’s okay to make mistakes when speaking a foreign language, something that foreign language students are often afraid to do.

Jesse will continue his tour on both the east and west coast of the United States.


February 9, 2017 – 5:30PM – “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Fazhan” (a parody of Notorious BIG song) was one of the highlights when comedian Jessie Appell, an American living in Beijing, China, visited the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The event, co-sponsored by GW Confucius Institute, helped deepen students’ cultural understanding of both traditional Chinese comedy (“Crosstalk”) and adapting western style comedy in China.

With more than 100 people in attendance, Jesse stood on stage in his traditional Chinese comedy outfit, first explaining the foundation of Crosstalk and its position in modern Chinese culture, and giving examples of the comedy styling for the audience to hear.

Jesse engaged with audience, relaying several humorous life lessons he’s learned living, working, and making people laugh in China. He continued on, sharing parodies he’s made of western songs, though with Chinese flare and modern-day application, that have made him a larger than life figure in China.

Following his performance at SAIS, Jesse headed down to Charlottesville, VA to perform at the University of Virginia and will later head back to China to continue making people laugh, expanding his comedy club in Beijing, and fostering positive US-China relations.


Speaker Biography

Jesse Appell 艾杰西

Fulbright Scholar, Intercultural Comedian

Jesse Appell is a Fulbright Scholar Alumni whose research focuses on Chinese humor and performance. He is a disciple of master Xiangsheng performer Ding Guangquan, and regularly perform Xiangsheng, bilingual improv comedy, and Chinese stand-up live and on TV. Jesse creates comedic online videos intended for the Chinese audience; one of these, “Laowai Style,” gathered 2 million hits across several media platforms.

Jesse’s performances, writing, and commentary on Chinese comedy, media, and culture have been seen and heard on CBS, TEDx, PBS, NPR and PRI, as well as Chinese media such as CCTV, BTV, and CRI. He has performed Chinese comedy at Yale University, University of Washington, Brandeis University and more on his “Great LOL of China” North American tour. He was listed as one of the “People of the Year” by the Global Times in 2012. Jesse founded, with the focus of using comedy to bridge cultural gaps.

Jesse’s bilingual comedy writing aims to overcome cultural gaps by focusing on storytelling and character rather than surface differences and stereotypes.





Sponsored By:

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center
The George Washington University Confucius Institute