It has come to my attention that some people think my writing “doesn’t suck” or is even, as someone put it, “good”. You’d think I’d take that as a hint that I should write more often and consistently. (If I had an editor, they would probably tell me that often and consistently both sorta mean the same thing in this context and that a proper writer would never drop a ‘sorta’ into their work.) Hell, it’s almost been a year (the start of COVID-19!) since my last post (in which I promised to showcase some of those much ballywhoed Seventh Generation of Japanese Comedy members in my next post but then summarily never go around to it) and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I got enough riding juice in me to squirt out all over this keyboard on a consistent basis (is that how sex/writing metaphors work?).
But look out world! Stephen was on a hellishly long 18 hour shoot for a TV show segment that he’ll probably be cut out of and he’s got some things to say!
On Saturday night, I had the pleasure of appearing on abemaTV’s live late night show, Muramoto Daisuke’s The Night, to participate in a discussion about comedy in Japan versus comedy in the rest of the world (namely America). While the whole fact that I showed up on Japanese TV is a story in its own right, the discussion that we had on the show really struck a chord with me. What is it about Japanese comedy that makes it hard to enjoy for foreigners and, on that same note, what is it about American comedy that makes it hard for Japanese people to enjoy?
Obviously, there is a language gap that has to be leapt between the two forms but the gulf between comedic cultures and understanding of how humor works goes beyond that. This whole discussion of Japanese comedy versus comedy “elsewhere” stems from a tweet by scientist and writer Ken Mogi. In it, he calls out “major” Japanese entertainers (not by name, mind you, but as an entire class) as being far off from the international standard of comedy and, thus, “finished”. Continue reading →
So we’ve beaten the whole Netflix horse for a while now and talked about introducing a manzai to the world (at least that was the idea) but what about my terrestrial career (i.e. the non-English language media)?
The Japanese new years holiday is one of shuttered shops and clogged transportation networks (interestingly enough, everyone is so busy getting out of Tokyo that the capital becomes an absolute breeze to get around for the week). It is also, most helpfully for me, a time for people to gather around and watch a shitton of TV. Almost every single popular program on television will put together a several hour long special show to be shown in the week around New Year’s Day as the Japanese public apparently still hasn’t figured out (a) how to use a DVR, (b) that you can watch almost anything you want on a streaming service, (c) the more time spent watching your favorite personality ham it up on screen means less spending quality time with your loved ones.
Yes, in Japan, on New Year’s, television is still king. And thanks to the national network’s ravenous need to fill airtime with original “special” programming, this means young struggling comedians such as myself find themselves with increased opportunity to see some airtime. Continue reading →
It is December 14th and I am sitting in a so-called “family restaurant” by myself typing this on my increasingly finicky laptop while lamenting the fact that I tore off a chunk of skin on my ass in the name of Japanese late-night television.
Pretty glamorous right?
My transition from faceless Japanese teacher to “entertainment talent” under the umbrella of the largest, most powerful entertainment agency in Japan has had its bumps and derailments but has certainly been, well, “something”.
One of the highlights of my foray into Japanese showbiz? Guest appearing on a Dragonball-themed TV show. Yes. That’s a thing. And it’s fun.
Well, it’s been a while. I’ve certainly been neglecting this website/blog thing for a while and, for that, I apologize. It hasn’t been a matter of me being too busy to write or really not having a lot to write about but rather a matter of me being absolutely dreadful at managing my time and my creative energies being focused elsewhere (We’ll get back to that particular point in a quick moment).
Anyways, in order to prove that I’m still alive and still care, I decided to write something, anything really, and put it up in this neglected corner of my life (another hundred bucks down the drain). So here we are, almost a month through the new year (no matter how much I keep accidentally writing 2014 on all my documents at work) and I’ve yet to publicly disclose my resolutions for the new year, something that, as we all well know, should be shouted from the internet rooftops or at the very least screamed in a drunken haze at your drinking establishment of choice, to mean anything.
Now, I’m not normally a huge proponent of these sorts of things because (a) I’m very bad at keeping promises and (b) I feel like crap at the end of the year when I review my goals and realize I fell well short of them. That all said, this year I have a couple of things that I really want to do and, for the sake of my sanity and well-being, probably should do.