Tang Jiezhong, one of China's top crosstalk artists, died in Beijing on June 18.

Once studied under the renowned crosstalk performer Liu Baoyi, the 85-year-old had partnered with a number of outstanding comedians throughout his career, including Ma Ji, Hao Aimin and Jiang Kun.

Tang worked as the managing director of the Chinese Quyi Study Center and was a part-time professor at the Beijing Language College, now known as the Beijing Language and Culture University.

Tang made a great contribution to the Chinese crosstalk throughout his life. In 2010, he was awarded Lifetime Achievement Award at the China Quyi Peony Awards, a top-level award that recognizes excellence in quyi, or Chinese folk art.

With abundant stage experience, Tang was also a familiar face at the CCTV Spring Festival Gala. Audiences adored his performing style and humor, and even bestowed him an endearing nickname as the "smiling Buddha".

During his partnership with also renowned crosstalk artist Jiang Kun, the duo created a series of crosstalk classics, including the household name skit Daydreams in Front of a Tiger.

Tang dedicated his life to giving back to the crosstalk community, and took on more than 20 apprentices throughout his career. Gong Hanlin, a recognized comedian, said he would "never forget what my teacher, Tang, did for me. I am grateful to him forever."

Many artists were deeply sadded and gave their condolences to the passing of Tang.

"Mr Tang Jiezhong spread so much joy and laughter to the world. May he have peace in heaven," Shi Xiaojie, a famous crosstalk performer, said.