Comedy is a powerful tool for public meditation on and critique of lived experience and discursive practice. In China's post-Mao period, comedy also provided a means for Tibetan intellectuals to access state-sponsored stages and airwaves in minority-dominated Northwest China's restrictive cultural climate. This article examines a series of four comedic dialogues popular in Tibetan regions in the mid-1990s. Centered on the fictional Careful Village, these four performances juxtapose urban sophisticates and country bumpkins in ways that allow comedians to grapple with questions of tradition and modernity in a rapidly modernizing society. Though superficially similar to Chinese state-sponsored modernity—itself centered on Chinese Putonghua—attention to these performances’ juxtaposition of characters, social issues, and linguistic practice reveals the promotion of certain forms of the Tibetan language at the center of uniquely Tibetan modernity. This Tibetan modernity is no longer assimilationist, but based on mastery of the proper, Tibetan linguistic competences.

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