Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

Today’s J-blip: Kasō Taishō’s YouTube channel

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Traditionally in Japan, oshogatsu is when families gather and celebrate the passage of the old year into the new one. Various customs are honored without fail, but when all is said and done and eaten, one of the biggest recent-day traditions involves the clan coming together in front of the TV.

A large chunk of this tube-watching is focused on the cult of celebrity, from the spangled jamboree of  “Kōhaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Song Battle)” on New Year’s Eve to the dozens of shows featuring comedians and starlets answering quizes, running marathons, visiting exotic places and so on. For this reason alone, “Kinchan & Katori Shingo no Zen-nihon Kasō Taishō” stands out from the crowd as a tribute to the common man. Broadcast on Nippon Television since 1979 (at its peak, three times a year; now only around New Year’s and in spring), the contest salutes the passion of amateurs.

This week NTV launched a  new Kasou channel on YouTube. Currently, 30 videos of past contestants are on offer, organized into various playlist categories (humor, performance, technique). Whether it’s precision choreography, athletic feats, adorable kids or just damn clever visualizations, most are worth a click. The videos are missing the post-performance deconstruction of how they did it, but at least you are spared the manic vaudeville emceeing.

Continue reading about Kasō Taishō →

Daburu Koron hit big time with pun-riddled riddles

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Japanese comedy is an inherently boom and bust business. Comedians often base their humor on one specific physical or verbal gag — such as Sekai no Nabeatsu or Yoshio Kojima — and ride it into the ground. Depending on the comedian and the gag, sometimes even one appearance on the right TV show is enough to launch a career or pull someone out of obscurity. Sekai no Nabeatsu and Shofukutei Shohei, for example, have both benefited from Downtown’s Zettai ni waratte wa ikenai” (“You absolutely must not laugh”) batsu game broadcast every New Year’s Eve.

Other comedians put in their time and slowly build up a critical mass of popularity. The latest group to do so is the young manzai duo Daburu Koron (Wコロン). Puns have long been called oyaji gyagu (old man jokes) in Japan, but boke (funny man) Nezucchi and tsukkomi (straight man) Kiso Sanchu have taken advantage of the oft-denigrated joke and elevated it to an art form, reviving the “nazokake” (謎掛け), an old Showa Era type of Japanese riddle.

The two start their routines like normal Japanese comedians doing give-and-take jokes, but at some point Nezucchi will shout out “I’ve got one!” (“Totonoimashita!”) He then offers up a riddle. In Japanese the form of the riddle is “X to kakemashite, Y to tokimasu.” An example is the self-deprecating joke seen in the YouTube clip above.

In the clip, Nezucchi says, “Daburu Koron to kakemashite, shun o mukaeru mae no kudamono to tokimasu.” In translation this is something like, “What links both Daburu Koron and unripe fruit?” Kiso Sanchu then asks, “What do you mean by that?” (“Sono kokoro wa?” ) And Nezucchi provides the answer along with his trademark catchphrase: “Nobody wants either of us. I’m Nezucchi!” (“Mada urete imasen. Nezucchi desu!”) Nezucchi puns on the phrase “urete imasen” which can mean both “hasn’t been sold yet,” in the case of the unripe fruit, or “isn’t popular yet,” in the case of the comedians. While some nazokake like this rely on idiomatic expressions, most take advantage of the large amount of homonyms in the Japanese language.

Continue reading about Daburu Koron →

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