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.
Some lives are better than others.That’s just a matter of fact in this world of punchlines and acts.The show we performed at today in Ikebukuro may have been the worst I can remember.
It’s not like we bombed or anything (we didn’t) but the overall atmosphere of the night when combined with the zombie-like audience and harried MC made what should have been a relatively relaxed night to try out new material into a night ripped straight out of a horror story.
I should backtrack and explain a bit.As far as a young Yoshimoto comedian is concerned, there are two kinds of lives:jimusho official lives and those that are not.Today’s live, despite the incredibly demanding people who put it on, was one of the later.
The theater where we performed, located a few minutes from Ikebukuro Station in north central Tokyo, isn’t exactly brand new and, it being cramped and dark, with room for maybe 40 people at the most, no one can really blame the over 60 people who came for not exactly being in a laughing mood.That said, the last time I performed in front of an audience as listless and unresponsive as the one we encountered tonight was probably back in comedy school when the instructor told everyone not to laugh before class even began.Continue reading →
I’ve been seeing a lot of head office of late. With my new part time job and increased first-thing-in-the-morning English lessons, I’ve spent far more time sitting around the offices of the biggest comedy entertainment company in Japan than I have actually being a comedian for the company itself.
I don’t really mind.I get more money doing menial office tasks and teaching English than I do with the all-too-often pay-to-play set up afforded to young comedians in the labyrinthian Yoshimoto Creative Agency bureaucracy.Today after my Yoshimoto work ended, I went to my ramen job.I’d like to say that I enjoy doing it but it turns out I enjoy eating ramen more than I do slinging noodles and taking orders from drunk assholes til the crack of dawn.Considering how much I’ve been working at Yoshimoto recently, I don’t really need to be working that job anymore.But (a) the ramen is good and (b) I live in constant fear that my cushy sit on my ass at a desk all day doing absolutely nothing gig is going to go up in flames sooner rather than later. Continue reading →
Walking home in the rain is probably never a good idea.And yet, there I was, struggling against the wind and rain as I tried to hammer out the hour-long walk to my apartment in Shinagawa from the wakate young comedian theater in Shibuya, trying desperately to not lose another umbrella to the wind whipping sheets of rain into my eyes. Continue reading →
So after apologizing for not posting many updates of late, I promptly fell off the wagon again and neglected the whole blog thing for another week plus. In my defense though, this time I’m busy!
In just a few days, I’ll be showing up in a play in Shinjuku in a bit part, the practices and rehearsals for which have taken up a huge amount of my time over the past month. Spoiler alert, I’m only showing up in one scene. It’s a fun change-of-pace role but it’s only like five lines and a couple minutes of standing around in the background as things happen with the main characters.
This being Japan, me being in one scene requires me to be present at every single practice, meeting, and rehearsal, even the ones where the scene in question isn’t even brought up. Being on the lowest tier of the Yoshimoto media conglomerate hierarchy, my primary duty in this place can best be described as a crazy mishmash of stagehand, personal assistant to the executive producer (lots and lots of sprinting to the convenience store to buy random shit), and general punching bag. You want to be a comedian in Japan? That’s what you’re gonna have to do.
Once all three performances of the play are done, I have a bunch of other live shows and appearances coming up in the month of July. Most of them are in Shibuya during the work week. All of them are in Japanese.
I’ll hopefully also have more exciting information to share with y’all in the coming weeks regarding the release of a certain part two of a certain manzai-centric Netflix show.
Stay tuned and stay in touch. You can find my live schedule below (along with the poster of my play)! 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.