3 Extremely Funny Japanese Comedian Duos

1. バナナマン (Banana Man)
Japanese Level: ☆☆
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5 Japanese Comedians To Keep You Laughing

If you’ve ever watched some amount of variety shows, you’ve probably seen these two. They are especially popular with foreigners because they host the Japanese show with the most foreigners on TV, YOUは何しに日本へ?You have the taller (?) cool guy, Shitara Osamu on the left, whose name you will probably have trouble remembering. You have the unforgettable face of Himura Yuki on the right.

An unfortunate trend when comedians get popular in Japan is that they stop doing what they used to do which brought them so much success. These guys were the kings of sketch comedy through the 90s and early 2000s. They specialized in long sketches, ranging sometimes up to 20 or 30 minutes. They created intricate detailed comedic stories, which could almost be mini theater productions, and masterfully carry them out the entire way through. They switch back and forth between Tsukkomi (straight-man) and the Boke (fool), and sometimes their acts completely throw out the mold altogether.

Some of my favorite sketches:

Answering machine: Shitara has been trying all night to contact Himura, as he needs help with his unfortunate turn of events that one wild night out has caused. Himura finally comes home to dozens of surprising and ridiculous messages.

Japan population control ranking number: In the near future, due to overpopulation, Japan has implemented a ranking system. All human activity is monitored, and depending on how your life is lived, you get ranked for your worthiness of surviving. Once your ranking goes below 100,000,000, you are killed. Himura’s rank just hit 99,999,997. Luckily a member of the Ranking System (Shitara) just happened to be his Himura’s old pal from high school.

Time-travelling name change: Having the last name Aho (fool) isn’t easy. Shitara decides the only logical way to change this is to use a time machine to travel into the past to warn his ancestor not to take on this name. But with his explanation of a タイムスリップ (time slip – time travel) turning into a タイトストリップ (tight strip), it looks like it’s going to be hard to convince the original Aho.

2. フットボールアワー (Football Hour)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆
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3 Extremely Funny Japanese Comedian Duos 2

Goto Terumoto (right) and Iwao Nozumu (left) make up this great sketch comedy duo that gained popular in the early 2000s. You may have occasionally seen them on a variety shows these days, but I think their duo has pretty much faded away unfortunately. Iwao Nozumu’s “Boke” act is incredible. He looks the part, plays the part, and Goto has a seemingly perfect Tsukkomi connection with him every time. They are involved in more realistic situations, but add silly twists that result in hilarity.

Some of my favorite sketches:

ET won’t go home: An obvious parody of ET, Iwao tries to send off a little alien back into space, but can’t figure out why he won’t leave. The alien just repeatedly keeps saying バイバイ (bye-bye) over and over. How can he get him to leave? Luckily his friend Goto has some interesting ideas.

Sex change and back: Iwao has a confession to make to his father Goto. Iwao wants to get a sex change to become a man. His father is confused, because Iwao is already a man. But Iwao wants something different. He wants to get a sex change to become a woman first. And then get a second sex change to become a man. His goal is to understand what it is like for all the other women who have sex changes to become men.

Quitting smoking: Iwao wants his friend Goto to stop smoking. He agrees that if he stops smoking, he’ll stop using soy sauce on his food. But for a Japanese person, quitting soy sauce may be harder than quitting smoking.

3. トータルテンボス (Total Tenbosch)
Japanese Level: ☆☆☆☆☆
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3 Extremely Funny Japanese Comedian Duos 3

Omura Tomohiro (right) and Fujita Kensuke (left) in the mid-2000s were a fast-talking, witty and always on the edge comedic duo. With Fujita’s unforgettable afro, these two were everywhere, and their sketches were always on top. They are still around these days, but have gone a little bit into obscurity. Out of this list they are probably the hardest to understand due to very clever word-plays and machine-gun talk. But if you can follow what they are saying, you are in for a real surprise.

Some of my favorite sketches:

Speed-up: Why do things slowly, when you can do them fast? They take you through a bunch of situations in life (getting a haircut, eating at a restaurant, etc.) that would just work better faster… or would they?

Goal reversal: Honmatsu Tentou is a Japanese phrase where you are going after a particular goal or aim, but through trying to accomplish it, you end up with the opposite effect. For example, you want happiness. So you work hard to earn money to gain that happiness. But you end up getting a job you hate to earn that money which results in massive unhappiness. Or you want to lose weight so you diet very strictly. But because your diet is so strict, you have a lot of stress, and then you end up eating more due to that stress.

Fujita tries his hardest to explain how to use this phrase to Omura.  Every time Omura tries to grasp it he turns the goal reversal into a further reversal destroying the meaning of the original phrase.

How to be a good salesman: What does it take to be a good salesman? Fujita tries to explain, but at every corner Omura’s behavior makes him look like a crooked salesman. Can anything be done to set him straight?

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


3 Extremely Funny Japanese Comedian Duos — 10 Comments

  1. Never watched any Japanese standup. Thanks Adam! Wouldn’t mind a top 3 variety shows airing right now either (just don’t put getsuyo or shiranai sekai) haha.

    Awesome article

    • You should definitely start trying to get into it. It’ll expand your ability in new ways (like learning how to use creative word-plays in your speech), and there is a lot of fun stuff out there.

      And I haven’t forgotten about your variety show article!

  2. バナナマン is awesome I love those guys. They have a podcast I listen to using the app podcast republic (great app for finding Japanese podcasts). They are also in a variety show I watch all the time with Nogizaki46.

    フットボールアワー I didn’t even know these guys were a combo. I’ve never actually seen them together for very long. I know both of them though just through variety shows.

    トータルテンボス Never heard of these guys, will have to watch the vids when I can.

    • Thanks for mentioning the Bananaman podcast. It’s a good one to listen to.

      And I hope you get some good laughs from the other duos!

    • Oh man I love HKT48 no Odekake, I pretty much watch every episode. I’m not a big fan of Sashi though, I hope someone besides her and Mayu win the upcoming election <3

      The link you posted, I first saw those guys on AKBINGO lol, they are hilarious.

      • Happy to hear that!
        I love hkt no odekake too, the girls are absolutely fun and I like how they send them around. It gives us the chance to see many interesting places in Japan :)
        Man, I didn’t want to say it, but I hate Sashihara… I respect every member, even the ones I don’t like, but Sashihara… I can’t stand her. And the fact she won the last election while Takamina was only 4th, knowing she was about to graduate, make me hate the average akb fan. :/
        lol I remember the two comedians from akbingo when they wrote a love song with a akb member, that episode was hilarious!

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