I’d rather be alive and broke than dead and still in a functioning economy. In recent days as this whole new reality, this bizarre world of social distancing and quarantines and complete and total lockdowns, this thought has become a light sort of mantra, the general idea being that the economic sacrifice of shutting down restaurants, offices, and retail outlets to quell the spread of this new deadly virus (the result, I always finding myself thinking, of some dude somewhere in China deciding eating undercooked bat meat was a good idea) would be worth it in the sheer number of lives saved. Japan, it turns out, seems to operating under the complete opposite doctrine.
Really I’d compare living in current bizzaro state-of-emergency-in-name-only Japan after watching things unfold (badly, it should be said) around the world to watching Jaws and knowing that there’s a giant rabid shark (can sharks get rabies?) swimming in the water where those teenagers are gonna try to get it on. Since Prime Minister Abe declared a State of “Emergency” earlier this week, it’s become abundantly clear that what he had in mind lies somewhere between an “Emergency” in name only and some oddball reinforcement of the tried-and-true nihonjinron concept of Japan being safe from the worst of the coronavirus outbreak simply by being Japan. Yes, it is the 21st century and, yes, just like the rest of the world, Japan is still being run by morons.
In my defense, I’ve been busy with stuff. My career as a comedian hasn’t exactly been amazing or anything but I’ve gotten increased work behind the scenes with English logistical stuff (surprisingly, or perhaps not, almost no one at one of the biggest entertainment companies in Japan speaks English) and teaching English lessons to company employees, spouses, et cetera.
It’s sho race (comedy contest) season in Japan and this year, my comedy duo somehow made it to the quarterfinals of King of Conte, a yearly contest to find Japan’s best sketch comedians. Thanks to a variety of inter-agency political issues, we wound up having to go on first but it was an educational experience nonetheless and there was much rejoicing (and my comedy partner apparently dropping 100,000 yen, a thousand bucks, on celebratory bottles of champagne with his friends).
Meanwhile, I (and Nick and Ann) have been busy building up Big in Japan, launching a Patreon, expanding our podcast content, and, perhaps biggest of all, working on the launch of our new online variety show with the alternative idol group NECRONOMIDOL. Starting mid-September, the Witching Hour will be broadcast live every Monday (Japanese time) at 12 PM, with highlights of the show being edited and posted on Necronomidol’s official Youtube page. Thanks to agency restrictions, I will not be appearing on the show (at least regularly) but I will be directing and producing it in addition to putting together most of the script. This has, obviously, been a very time consuming process.
Remember those “big things” we were talking about?
We are proud to announce the start of The Witching Hour, a new online international variety program with the awesome @NECRONOMIDOL hosted by @TIMEBOMBGEININ and his partner!
While I haven’t had and probably won’t have going forward much time to update the blog, I have been attempting to post more on instagram and always talk about my comings and goings on the Big in Japan podcast.
So now that WHAT’S MANZAI?!!! PART 2 is finally out (though seemingly not in the US) and that part of my life is now completely done with, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the one place where you can hear me discuss Japanese showbiz on my own terms without a Yoshimoto staffer constantly whispering in my ear about not offending my sempai or making sure that I don’t say something about sponsor X, Y, or Z.
In case you were unsure about it or just went with the narrative of WHAT’S MANZAI?!!! that I am apparently the only non-Japanese person who ever thought about getting in Japanese comedy, there are others out there, and, starting a few months ago, a couple of us decided to get together and talk about our experiences as geinin in Japan because, quite frankly, you need an outlet for these sorts of things.
Those conversations kinda turned into regular thing that we decided to start recording and put out as the Big in Japan podcast, an uncensored, unfiltered, completely unendorsed by our agencies look at the Japanese entertainment world.I’d like to emphasis the uncensored part of this description because some of the stories shared on the show have been pretty darn raunchy (mostly because, as members of the Japanese entertainment industry, we haven’t had the chance to work blue in years). Continue reading →
So in my every expending quest to never sleep again, I decided to go the news anchor route and bring some of the news from Japan to you, the beloved reader/viewer/stalker on a new endeavor I am calling I Think I’m Turning JapaNEWS or just JapaNEWS for short.
A little bit of background: Way back in the day, I used to do a podcast with my friend called The Mark and Stephen Show, a show in which Mark did most of the work while I sat around in the back of the room and did the typical goofy sidekick shtick. While our numbers weren’t ever mind-blowing or anything, they started to get on a bit of an up-tick thanks to a bit of radio exposure (it’s a long story but Mark has a tendency to make friends with people in convenient places). And then, things sorta fell apart, burnout ensued, and the Mark and Stephen Show vanished into the ether, never to be heard from again.
That was something like three or four years ago at this point and I seem to remember enjoying the whole semi-organized show thingy far more than I probably did at the time. So I’ve been looking for any excuse to do a show of some sort and the move to Japan finally provided me with enough fodder for one. For the past couple of months, I’ve been mulling over the precise format of what it is that I want to do. Last week, I put out a test podcast on my Soundcloud account (FOUND HERE) but honestly, the end result was a little more bloated than I wanted and, honestly, not that good (which isn’t to say that this new attempt is good either).
Living in Japan, I’ve come to notice how bad most international media is at providing news stories about the country aside from the occasional “FUKUSHIMA IS GOING TO MELT ALL OUR FACES OFF!”, “No one in Japan is having sex!!!!!”, or “Look at how weird Japan is! ROFL” stories. This of course does nothing to account for the other 99% of things going on in the country at any given time. I Think I’m Turning JapaNEWS is my sad little attempt at showing off some of these other events (along with the occasional “Japan is into some weird stuff” story).
This show is obviously a work in progress and it will probably be several more weeks before I even begin to feel comfortable reading the news and then subsequently ad-libbing on camera/mic. As I’m obviously the guy compiling/translating/writing/reading the news stories on this show, the content is going to be a bit smarmier and edgier than a straight forward news show. (Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of SNL’s Weekend Update and the Daily Show so that is consequently how I like my news.)
Now, as for how to find my show…
As of right now, I plan on ultimately offering the JapaNEWS via two main channels: a visual newsdesk-style show via my Youtube channel and an audio podcast feed via an as yet unestablished RSS Feed/ Podcast hosting service. Those of you expecting or wanting a written version of my show will either be sadly disappointed or have to transcribe the show yourself (even if I do have a copy of the script containing the bare bones version of the show itself). Those of you looking for a Braille version of my show are probably better served just doing something else or listening to the audio feed.
When it comes to the frequency of the show, I am going to try to maintain a weekly schedule, which is of course dependent on how busy I am at work and whether or not I’m sick. If something major happens, you can probably expect me to issue some special edition episodes to talk about stuff in a timely manner.
If you would like to contact me about the show and/or are an expert in some Japan news related field, please feel free to do so either through my twitter account or the comments section here or via another yet unestablished email address. Also if an awesome person wants to come up with a cool looking logo for the show, I would love you forever and totally sell you my kidney.