When we last left off, we were talking about the rise of a new batch of Japanese comedy stars, dubbed by the media as the Seventh Generation of Japanese Comedy, a term determined more by savvy marketers than by any actual generational shift in how comedy is crafted in Japan.
I had originally planned on introducing some of the “top” members of this “new” group in a new post but while writing it, I had a long and deep conversation with my podcast co-host and actual Japanese comedy researcher Nick about manzai and its various evolutionary shifts as a comedy form. More specifically, we spoke about the act of performing manzai in the era of remote lives and plastic shields aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. (Side note, it was a great and really deep conversation about the craft of being a manzai comedian that probably only five or six people in the entire world would probably enjoy hearing.)
A long long time ago, Yoshimoto attempted to introduce the world to manzai via a Netflix “documentary” that I still have crazy stress nightmares about being in. In it, we said that manzai was one mic, two people, and the “Japanese Dream” (Note: I really wasn’t lying about those stress nightmares.). But is that really true? In the four years since then and in the last several months, I’ve given this idea a lot of thought.
As pretty much any returning reader to this blog knows, I am an “owarai geinin” in Japan. Why don’t I just call myself a comedian? Because the more and more time I spend in the Japanese entertainment industry, the more I’ve come to understand that comedians and geinin are two completely different categories of roles/people entirely.
With the novel coronavirus pretty much putting everything on hold everywhere in the world, now is the perfect time to take of stock of how the Japanese entertainment world has changed or shifted over the last couple of years.
So with the first month of 2017 almost over, I thought it’d be prudent to finally talk about what I hope to get done this year (not that any of you probably care anyways).
As I “covered” earlier, 2016 was a year full of change and random things and getting fired from your job waiting tables because you had to leave town a couple of woks for a job out in the boonies. The first month of 2017 has continued this trend. Not the getting fired part, mind you. You need to have a job first before you can get fired. Thus far, the new year has brought me a half dozen stage appearances, a couple of token television appearances, and a steady
succession of bad colds and flu-like symptoms.
Which brings me to my resolutions and goals for the new year. Everyone has them. Almost everyone makes theirs public. I’m just doing mine a whole month later than everyone else. Continue reading →
So it’s done! Over! I can finally take a step back and breathe! After a long month plus of preparation, practice, and figuring out how exactly to fill an entire hour of stage time, Iruka Punch’s first solo live show went off with minimal hitches and nary a tear to be seen.
Here’s the general order of our show, for those of you who can read Japanese.
The thing you learn the most when doing a solo comedy show in Japan? Pacing and tempo is everything. When working as an owaraiconbi in Japan, you generally have two different categories of comedy to work with: manzai, Japanese “stand-up” comedy, and conte, a sort of minimalistic take on sketch comedy. My conbi, Iruka Punch, happens to have a foot in both pools, which makes doing a solo show a bit harder than it would have been if we had just simply have done an hour of manzai. Continue reading →
So a few days ago, I teased a big announcement and now I can officially tell you what that is (in English)!
A solo show! That’s right! Iruka Punch, my owarai combi, is going to finally do a solo show, which is a big get for a first year combi like ours!
Iruka Punch First Solo Live
What’s Iruka Punch!!! (forgive the Japanglish punctuation)
October 8th, 2016
Doors open 7:45 PM
Tickets: Advanced 1200 yen/ Door 1500 yen
The theater is located in Omiya, a city that is pretty much a suburb of Tokyo (and one thirty minute train ride away from major Tokyo hubs like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro), and the show starts at 8PM on a Saturday, which means that my solo show is both inconveniently located and inconveniently timed. In other words, hundreds of tickets are still available.
This is a big, big chance. If we sell enough tickets, god forbid we sell the theater out, we can help prove our viability as comedic talent to our agency. If absolutely no one shows up? Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Which is all why I’m asking, nigh, begging any of you reading this in the greater Tokyo area to come to this show. If money is an issue, I can possibly get you some tickets at a reduced rate. Please please. Pretty please.