The Crazy Comedy Styles Of Japan
Smosh-pit blogger Lance writes to us from his new home... in Japan!
The Japanese are funny.
And I don’t mean unintentionally like nerdy otaku who marry pillows, or video-game characters.
(You guys realize they weren’t serious when they did that, right?)
No, the Japanese have a long history of planned comedic genius. Much like martial arts, poetry, and pretty much all aspects of Japanese society. There are rules guidelines, and different methods used by Japanese comedians to get a laugh.
Here are some of the more popular styles today.
Above: (Comedy-Duo “Downtown” Ma-chan, and Hama-chan, are the long-time kings of Manzai.)
Manzai is a team of two comedians, one is the straight-man (tsukkomi) and the other is funny-man (bokke).
They tell a story in rapid fire, while the bokke makes idiotic remarks, the tsukkomi rips him a new one for being such a buffoon. It’s filled with wordplay, innuendo and slapping each other on the head. It’s by far the most popular style of comedy in Japan.
(Above: Comedy Duo “Peace” became famous for doing strange konto about Unicorns with, um, horn envy. Weird stuff.)
Konto is a short, fantastical sketch that last from as short as two-lines to about 3 minutes. It’s about as long as most SNL sketches should be, all killer no filler, and always completely ridiculous. Many comics rattle of two or three short conte in a row when they are guests on one of the bazillion variety shows on Japanese TV.
Shimo means “low” or “down there.” These are dirty jokes/sketches focusing on…well, “down there”.
Rakugo means “fallen words” which is appropriate considering the fall in popularity among young people. This is the old version of Japanese stand-up, only they’re sitting down. Some say that Rakugo is one man doing a sit-com playing all the parts.
At it’s best it resembles Cosby-like stories, at it’s worst (which is most of the time) it’s like watching grandpa tell you “a funny thing that happened the other day.”
Here’s a clip of rakugo on a show…with subs.
(Above: “Rahmens” is a popular Sur comedy troupe. Often mocking Japanese culture, and people who mock Japanese culture.)
Sur stands for surreal. This is the type of comedy that makes the viewer laugh because they don’t know what else to do. It’s dry, cerebral, and consequently not very popular with the masses. (People are dumb) Tim and Eric, or Andy Kaufman might be considered American-style “Sur.”
Rahmens teach you how to eat sushi...
(Above: ”Cream Stew” are known for being the smarter than you.)
Unchiku means “accumulated knowledge” it’s the comedians that are wayyy smarter than you. Comics who teach a thing or two, while they make you laugh; they aren’t above a dirty joke.
Obviously there are TONS of comedians who choose a character and run with it. They can make a whole career out of it, or get real famous real quick, never to be heard from again. Here are a few of the ones who made it big and lasted longer than a few weeks.
Plays a leather loving gay man…
Imoto means “kid sister” she plays a character with crazy eyebrows that travels around and does wacky stuff in foreign places.
Video: Imoto Gets Sexy
No one is sure what he does…supposedly impressions, but it’s something else entirely. Insanity.
Would you go to a Japanese comedy show?