Kings of comedy yuck it up on April Fools

April 9th, 2010 by Daniel Morales

famoso1

Beat Takeshi and Tokoro George published the third issue of Famoso on April Fool’s Day

It could be said that modern Japanese comedy doesn’t exactly make extensive use of satire for its material. For the most part, comedians center their acts on physical and verbal gags, one-off jokes that can be incorporated into a variety of different circumstances.

April Fool’s Day, however, seems to have created a space in which it is acceptable to satirize to a certain extent. The event isn’t celebrated widely in Japan; although, multinational companies with Japanese divisions take advantage of the occasion to let their hair down and show their lighter side. Google debuted their unique Japanese keyboard, and YouTube introduced TEXTp, the latest video mode unique to Japan’s text-centric cell phone culture.

This year some smaller Japanese companies used the day to raise their profile virally through the mad linkfest spawned by April Fool’s Day. The craft beer company Sankt Gallen introduced its new brew Toriaezu Beer, making fun of the Japanese custom of ordering “whatever the hell you have on tap for now” as the first drink at a restaurant. Sankt Gallen sold the beer for 24 hours on April 1, alone or bundled with their standard selection of beers.

The brewer’s creative efforts earned it 15th place in the April Fool’s Awards 2010, a Japanese Web site where the public could vote for their favorite site. Another site, April Fool’s Japan 2010, provided a list of all the April Fool’s Jokes and, a few days before April 1, organized Twitter hash tags to help spot new Web sites with jokes.

A number of large Japanese companies joined in the fun. Chintai, a provide of rental housing information, expanded their coverage of apartments to outer space. Japanese massively multiplayer online role-playing game The Tower of AION advertised their skyscraper condominium named after the game. While tours of “power spots” have attracted hordes of women, Travel.jp offered men a chance to visit a power spot that would make them popular.

Probably the most ambitious April Fool’s effort was that of comedians Beat Takeshi and Tokoro George, who released the third issue of their satire magazine Famoso. They first released the magazine for April Fool’s Day 2009. Reportedly the result of an excess of creative material from when the two hung out at Tokoro’s home and office, the magazine was so popular that it was reprinted, and the pair released a second issue last August.

While the cover of the latest issue clearly references Time magazine, the font of the title inside spoofs that of Weekly Playboy, and the contents poke fun at Japanese weekly magazines in general, which generally feature four main things: sexy pin-ups, golf lessons, dialogues between politicians and information about sports cars.

Takeshi, the editor, and Tokoro, the assistant editor, cover all the bases. The inside cover is an ad for the new Porusche 979 Comanecini, a combination of a Lamborghini and Takeshi’s famous Comaneci gag. There is a sexy spread of Mitsuko Mori (盛り光子), but the date of birth and other details given match with 89-year-old actress and singer Mitsuko Mori (森光子), famous for her eternal youth, possibly achieved through artificial means.

famoso2

Exile: Why have five background dancers when you can have 12? And why not add President Obama on top of that?

The duo go on to spoof current events and pop culture. For example the magazine claims to have uncovered Tiger Woods’ 21st illicit lover – actress Eri Watanabe, not known as the most attractive woman in Japan.

There is also a spread on the band EXILE, which last year doubled its members from seven to 14, adding seven additional background dancers (two of whom also add vocals). To show how unnecessary the additional members are, the article claims that the band recently added U.S. President Barack Obama and rakugo performer Shōzō Hayashiya IX. The article is not written especially well and mostly features strings of casual exclamatory phrases (“Amazing, right?!”), but the conclusion is funny: In 10 years, half of Japan will be a member of the band (including Bruce Willis and the Kameda boxing brothers, who are supposedly slated to join the group in the near future).

The appearance of Famoso reveals Takeshi and Tokoro’s influence and personal senses of humor more than any cultural sea change; the back cover is a photo of Beat Takeshi in a mustache with Barbie Dolls behind him: an advertisement for a Bond spoof – “008: Tomorrow Die Again and Again.” While the humor may be typically juvenile and only occasionally insightful, it’s clear that April Fool’s has gone mainstream in Japan.

Tags: , ,

One Response

  1. Encontré tu blog por pura casualidad. Me gustó mucho!. Saludos!

RSS

Recent Posts

  • Marketers capitalize on university entrance exam time

    This week there is something weighing heavy on the minds of many students who’d like to advance to college: the National Center Test for University Admissions. It’s being held Jan. 18-19. Those with their heart set on a particular school who don’t get a good enough score may choose to spend a year, or in [...]

  • Pulsations 1.13.14

    The first batch of Pulsations in 2014 features a twist on chopstick design, a spectacular holiday illumination in Osaka and more.

  • Feelin’ lucky? The highs and lows of ‘fukubukuro’

    Whether you count fukubukuro “lucky bags” as a thank-you to shoppers, a scheme to unload less popular merchandise at the end of the year or just a way to kick off the New Year’s sales, buying a mystery pile of stuff worth [hopefully far] more than the price tag is a tempting offer to many. [...]

  • Pulsations (12.6.13)

    This collection of Pulsations brings holiday cheer in bento form, a must-see project for font-lovers, a solo stop-motion animation effort and more!

  • Joysound’s top 10 karaoke songs of 2013

    Joysound karaoke announced their top songs of 2013! However, just because they’re popular does not mean they came out this year . . .

  • Tokyo Eggs Benedict Bingo

    Eggs Benedict with awesome bacon, with a near lack of eggs, with raw tuna! Wait, raw tuna?! We sample a handful of Tokyo’s Hollandaise sauces.

  • Pulsations (11.19.13)

    Fashion, art and snacktime collide in this collection of Pulsations! Plus: Doraemon makes his 3D film debut!

  • J-blip: Tsutaya launches one-stop ‘lifestyle’ bookshop

    Bookseller Tsutaya moves into the lifestyle business and gives consumer more ways to use T-points.

  • Autumn crop of pumpkin, purple potato and pear products

    The change of season prompts a change of snack flavorings – great for those with a pumpkin craving.

  • Tokyo Designers Week 2013

    This year’s Tokyo Designers Week gets its creative juices flowing with more markets, music and a festival vibe.

Our Users Say

  • More Than Red: Great photos. Thank you for sharing.
  • kenji: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!
  • John Moore: I believed that blue, green, purple and black were inherently boy colors, while red, orange, yellow and...
  • deepak kumar: It is commom nature of guman being to play safe.
  • Janel: Not sure I could do the avocado before I read this. But it doesn’t really look too good on that burger!
Japan Times RSS Feed

RECENT JAPAN TIMES HEADLINES

  • No items
Read more:
Toshiba's Regza 12 GL1 Series
Glasses-free 3D bursting into focus soon

More eye-popping 3D products are set to hit the shelves of Japan soon, and look Ma, no silly glasses!

Close