The birth of crosstalk entertainment dates back about 200 years in Beijing and Tianjin , where performers made a living by entertaining audiences on open ground. Performers worked hard to appeal to audiences through comedy and even vulgarity, and their social standing was lower than that of artists such as Peking opera singers and storytellers. But traditions were established in the profession and classic dialogues emerged over time. After the Communist Party took power and all traditional art forms faced bans, crosstalk performers adapted their art with the help of great writers such as Lao She to avoid it being labelled a 'feudal remnant'. The country's leadership showed a fondness for crosstalk, and leading performers such as Hou Baolin were invited to entertain state leaders including Mao Zedong , Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi . The government also set up troupes to promote party policies, leading to the creation of new works with new themes and techniques. The Cultural Revolution almost dealt a fatal blow to crosstalk, which was disliked by Mao's wife, Jiang Qing , but it regained popularity in the 1980s after the Gang of Four was overthrown and TV became a part of people's lives. Instead of going to tea houses for crosstalk shows, people could view them at home. Crosstalk is usually inserted into gala shows with songs, dances and other performances and, while TV enabled crosstalk to survive, it also meant performers had to trim 15- to 20-minute routines to a 10-minute maximum. TV also required jokes every few minutes, which went against the past rules of the art. In addition, censorship restricted the routines to non-taboo subjects, almost draining the satiric art of its lifeblood and its appeal to audiences and performers. About 10 years ago, it lost ground to another art form, the short drama which is indigenous to the northeast regions.