Japanese comedy. A wacky world completely different from anything you are used to. It takes time to “get it,” but once you do, call a doctor.
You will watch most of your comedy on TV in the form of variety shows and Manzai/Konto (prop skits). But if you are taking a trip to Japan, you absolutely need to experience Japanese comedy up close and personal. And luckily for you, Japanese comedy-lover, this is a simple feat.
If you are visiting anywhere near the Tokyo area, and have ever heard of a little old rural train station known as Shinjuku, you can pay a small price to see some of the big names out there in Japanese entertainment.
The venue is ルミネtheよしもと (Lumine The Yoshimoto). It is on the 7th floor of the Lumine Shopping complex, which is attached to Shinjuku station (South Entrance).
Not good at finding your way around? There is a picture guide by comedian duo ピース (Peace) showing you how to get there:
Buy Your Tickets
Tickets can be either bought through the website or the day of the show. I highly recommend you buy them in advance (you can up to a month before), as good seats sell out quickly, and there is a good chance that it may be sold out if you wait till the day of. Also, you get a friendly 500 yen discount if you buy online.
There are usually 3 shows a day.
The 2 earlier shows are 4000 yen each with a running time of 120 minutes.
The last “Golden Live” show is 2500 yen at 100 minutes. I believe this is filmed for TV, so you often get the comedians acting their best (though probably most tired). Also, there is usually a big-name MC for the Golden Live.
Purchased your tickets? No? I’ll wait . . .
And while I’m waiting:
Who or what is Yoshimoto?
Yoshimoto Kogyo is a major entertainment giant, which most major Japanese comedians, entertainers, talent, etc are under. There is a good chance many of your favorites are here. This means that there is also a good chance that you may able to see the people you are a huge fan of.
Okay, back on track. Got your tickets?
Head to Lumine
Pick up your tickets the day of the show at the ticket counter. I promise you they will greet you with a smile (unless you try to take a picture of them . . .)
Buy some comedy memorabilia
Give yourself a little time to wander around the comedy store and buy some silly stuff from your favorite shows.
Satisfied your buying urge?
Better take a picture with those ridiculous cardboard cutouts so you can pretend like you are a short Japanese comedian duo.
And a picture in front of a picture-taking vending machine that puts your face in the bottle of an energy drink:
But I know, you are probably wondering something more important than this.
How is the Show?
I went to two shows, 2 days in a row on 9/24 and 9/25. Why two? Because I’m only visiting Japan for about a month, I’ve never been to a comedy show, and I need my comedy fix while I can.
The lineups I got to experience (added bold show the ones I was most excited about).
Inside is a small, comfortable theater that maybe fits between 100-200 people. Surprisingly, most of the audience were women. I’ve noticed this is in other areas of Japanese entertainment such as variety show audiences. There are some shows that won’t even allow men in the audience. Maybe women react better? Lucky for the women Japanese learners out there.
There were also a few large groups of junior high school students whose school field trip was to come to a comedy club in Tokyo . . .
The show setup
It started off similar to western comedy shows. The MC warms up the crowd. The acts went on one at a time and were around 5 to 10 minutes each. There was some audience interaction and there was a mix of Konto and Manzai.
Then it got Japan-only.
After the first 4 acts there was an intermission quiz variety show. The first 4 acts were brought out and tested by the MCs in some weird improv quiz game.
The next 3 acts went on with the showcase act at the end just as short as the others, and again there was a final variety/quiz show part 2 with the latter half of the acts.
This was fun because you got to know the comedians better, and you also get to experience what it’s like to see a variety show live.
Foreigners coming to these shows are very rare and you will most likely be the only one in the audience. Sit in the first row, which I did together with JALUP alliance member Andy, and expect to get called out by the entertainers. We ended up having a fun comedic exchange for about the first minute of the show. This definitely added to the excitement.
Go, Laugh, Be Merry
Really, it is a fun experience. Even if your Japanese level isn’t that high, I still think you would have a great time.
Have any of you ever been an audience member in a comedy show? What was the experience like? If not, are you interested in going now?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.