Dashan (aka Mark Rowswell) has been called “the most famous foreigner in China”, where he has worked as media personality and cultural ambassador for over 25 years.
Born and raised in Canada, Rowswell began studying Chinese in the mid 1980s, first at the University of Toronto and later at Peking University. While in Beijing, he became interested in xiangsheng (she-ang shung), a revered form of traditional comedic dialogue in China, and was soon appearing on national television under the stage name “Dashan”.
Repeated performances to hundreds of millions of television viewers turned “Dashan” into a household name across China, and his media career expanded from comedy to dramatic acting to hosting cultural, diplomatic, educational and commercial programs & live events. Over time, Dashan came to be seen as an all-round cultural ambassador between China and the West and as a symbol of finding common ground between cultures, “a foreigner but not an outsider” according to the People’s Daily.
Dashan is the only non-Chinese performer to have appeared four times on the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, the largest annual television extravaganza in China with an estimated audience of over 800 million viewers.
Dashan served as Canada’s Team Attaché during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and as Canada’s Commissioner General for Expo 2010 in Shanghai. In 2006 he was inducted into the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. In 2012 Dashan was named “Goodwill Ambassador to China” by Canada’s Prime Minister.
In recent years Dashan has returned to his comedic roots, combining traditional Chinese comedy with Western stand-up in a ground-breaking solo show “Dashan Live”. Chinese audiences all know the character “Dashan” from TV; over this 60-minute performance Dashan shares hilarious behind-the-scene stories of his 30 years between East & West.
Stand-up comedy is quite new to China, but growing in popularity. These past few years Dashan has eschewed television and online exposure to focus on developing the market for live comedy clubs across China. “Dashan Live” has also been performed before Chinese audiences in Canada, the US and Europe, and will be touring Australia & New Zealand in April-May 2017.