Shing02 just sent me this hilarious voice over of Michael Jackson’s Beat It video of an insomniac man with an Osaka accent counting sheep and stressing out because he can’t sleep before his piano recital. Wow.
Question: is this only funny to people who understand Japanese or is it funny period?
Friend of a friend posted this photo on Facebook. I think it’s supposed to say “本日は終了しました” (we are closed for the day) but instead they wrote ”日本は終了しました” (Japan has ended). How silly of the person who punches in train signs!
Mark Zuckerberg didn’t show up at press conferences in Japan before The Social Network opened there, so instead they invited this guy, comedian Shigeo Takahashi, who makes at least part of his living posing like his famous doppelganger.
Need a crash course in Japanese humor? Just study some old Ken Shimura videos. It’s important to know this guy if you want to understand what makes the stereotypically stoic Japanese burst out in uncontrollable laughter. Shimura started off as part of a five-man comedy team called the Drifters; later, two Drifters branched off to become Kato-chan and Ken-chan, an iconic comedy duo from the 80s.
Ken Shimura was always the pack leader. Deceptively good looking but outrageously silly and politically incorrect, he mass marketed shimoneta (below-the-belt jokes) and inappropriate slapping with his unique blend of traditional and contemporary Japanese and Western influences. He also spearheaded some of the most famous Japanese TV memes ever, like "Daijobu da" and "Henna ojisan."
Above, an amazing short skit that shows all facets of this genius comedian: it features a handsome womanizer who turns into a creepy old man who performs a delightful, Japanified version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The skit ends with Shimura’s signature “henna ojisan” dance.
In this amazing video, a TV crew plays a prank on three children who believe they must fight off a zombie who’s coming into their home. It’s hilarious on so many levels. I love that Japanese people are not afraid to play pranks on little kids that empower them to be stronger and more imaginative. Also, it’s funny that the zombie writes them a letter to tell them he’s coming over, and then takes off his shoes before entering the house. Very polite. My favorite part is when the older boy starts crying and then tells the reporter off for not doing anything to help them. The weapons they use are great too: Tabasco, plastic wrap, a toy dinosaur…
This video features about a dozen Japanese people running like crazy — literally — in slow motion. It’s quite entertaining! (Speaking of running… I just got back from running my first half marathon this morning.) The music is by Nujabes featuring Shing02.
My friend Steven sent me this Cup Noodle video that uses the same camera tech as the Ray-Ban and MSI laptop ads on American TV. In it, two guys throw a cup of noodle across crazy distances without spilling any of it. It’s directed by Daisuke Izumi. Fun to watch!
This wonderfully heart-warming, slightly scary, and hilarious video features comedian Ken Shimura and a celebrity chimpanzee named Pan-kun. In it, Pan-kun acts as Sadako, the ghost from the movie The Ring. In between takes, Shimura and Pan-kun sit in overalls in a director’s chair and bond. Super cute.
A popular variety TV show called Sanma no Karakuri TV had a contest where 10,000 Japanese Harry Potter fans competed for a chance to fly to the UK, visit the set of the HP movies, and interview Ron and Harry. The winner was a high school girl named Kana Matsuda. Here’s a hilarious clip of her interviewing Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley. Watch it! It has subtitles. I’m personally a bigger fan of Ron than Harry, but if you want to watch the video of her interviewing Daniel Radcliffe, it’s here.
I just watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the theater on Friday, btw. It was fun!
I’ve posted this before, but here it is again because it is, in my humble opinion, one of the best tributes to Michael Jackson originating in Japan. Around 1:58, Ken Shimura, who has just confessed to his girlfriend that he becomes a henna ojisan (a weird middle-aged man) when there’s a full moon, jumps out of the bushes and starts dancing to the chorus of Thriller played on a Japanese flute. This clip is from the late 80s, I think, or possibly the early 90s.
The Onion comedically sums up Japan’s unique fetishes in this fake quote in an article about “porn that makes people puke”:
“We honestly had no idea people did not enjoy this stuff,” said Cultural Affairs Minister Kazuhiro Nakai, expressing regret for the thousands of hours of bondage porn, rape porn, utensil-rape porn, food-rape porn, frozen-food-rape porn, vomit-enema porn, elder-care-coma-patient-rape porn, and the kind of a porn in which a nubile youth is kidnapped, stripped, tied down in a wading pool and raped. “We are deeply ashamed for whatever it is about these films that has made people around the world vomit so vigorously. Please know that the content was only intended to entertain and arouse.”
Once a month, my friend and superstar journalist Charlie Jane Anders hosts a spoken word variety show called Writers With Drinks at a bar called The Makeout Room in the Mission district of San Francisco. She invited me to read last weekend, so I did. I read excerpts from my profile of the Dalai Lama’s brother, and I also read the Wired.com article about the Tokyo pick-up school for geeks. I might post my audio clips here later, but for now, I wanted to share the lovely introduction that Charlie Jane wrote before she brought me on stage. Enjoy!
It’s been a while since I first saw this video, but it’s funny every time. A wooden hut sits atop a snow-covered mountain during ski season. It has a couple massage chairs in it for skiiers whose muscles need a little break. But things take an unexpected turn 10 seconds after they sit down in them….
I know I’ve lived in America too long because I watch this and the word "lawsuit" pops into my head every time the chair does its thing.
Check out this clip of Riyo Mori on a reality TV show. The girl might be hot enough to have won Miss Universe, but she’s also dumb enough to show up at an airport without valid ID. Wait, scratch that. She didn’t have a passport, drivers license, or other form of government-issued ID, but she DID have her Miss Universe sash. Homeboy at the US Airways counter actually let her through, probably because he was pressured by half a dozen hot girls and a camera crew.
While Riyo won the global pageant, back home she wasn’t everyone’s favorite. She’s not really "cute" in the way Japanese people want girls to be cute, I guess. Want to decide for yourself which woman should have been Miss Universe Japan? Check out this next video (after the jump) from the selection ceremony.