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TaWarau Tayo!: All About Japanese Comedy

Marco Tiongson, Batch Hachikou

What’s a better way to ease up from all the stress than to laugh and have a good time? Last October 12, 2016 was an afternoon full of entertainment, gag, and comedy that would have surely made your eyes tear up from excessive laughter!

UP Tomo-Kai, Shuichi Nakamori, and our Japanese friends from HPN3 joined hands in “TaWarau Tayo!: All About Japanese Gag Comedy”—a special event to make us students have a good time in this year’s ACLE season (Alternative Classroom Learning Experience). From traditional, theatrical Japanese comedy, to popular, modern puns and gags—the event surely offered a wide variety of entertainment to the audience.
The event started with UP Tomo-Kai’s introduction video, followed by a short talk by Angel Guerrero, Academics and Research Committee Head of UP Tomo-Kai, about the roots of good-to-know trivia about Owarai (お笑い) or Japanese Comedy. Japanese humor is truly novel and original. Mentioned was a traditional “Sit-down” comedy called Rakugo (落語), where a guy single-handedly made the audience laugh just by literally sitting down on a small mattress or table and acting out a story. It was interesting to learn about all these many different types and styles of comedy.
At the end of the talk, the event staff started prepping for something like a main event. The wooden table suddenly transformed into a stage, called Kōza (高座), with a mattress on top. A man in a kimono, holding only a paper fan (扇子 sensu) and a small cloth (手拭 tenugui) as props, kneeled down on top of the said table, and greeted the audience “Magandang hapon po!” with a Japanese accent and a big smile. And who would have guessed! Next was an authentic Rakugo performance by Shuichi Nakamori (Stage Name: Chuusontei Shinshuu), who amusingly, introduced himself in Filipino. He was not exactly fluent, yet he captured the audience’s attention through his funny remarks. After his introduction, he started speaking dialogues of various characters—in full Japanese! It was something you would not be able to see every day! He performed spectacularly well that he even managed to break the language barrier through sheer skill and technique. You could immediately recognize the characters depicted in the story through his sudden changes in pitch, tone, or slight head turns. The props were also used in a creative manner, such as when he hit the bottom of the fan on the table to simulate a knock on the door. You might have not understood a word besides konnichiwa (‘hello’ in Japanese) or arigatou (‘thank you’ in Japanese), but the atmosphere he created was indeed very enjoyable; he made the audience laugh in unison for no particular reason. What more if we could fully understand everything that he said? No wonder the Japanese enjoy such performances.
After Nakamori-san’s performance, the curtains rose again for the trending Japanese comedy trio, Yuki, Kazu, and Ino of HPN3 (ハポンスリー). Since they have been in the Philippines for a while, they know all sorts of Filipino words, and therefore introduced themselves in Filipino. Kazu and Ino act as the boke (ぼけ) or the silly goofballs, and Yuki acts as the tsukkomi (突っ込み) the straight man. They were dressed up ridiculously—their appearance alone would suffice to make anyone laugh. They were wearing amusing wigs and bald caps. Kazu was even cross-dressed as a geisha (traditional Japanese entertainers/hostesses). What’s more, their jokes and skits were way too funny! The Pak Ganern joke and samurai skits were the crowd favorites! And while they made the audience indulge in laughter, they effectively promoted more of their culture by teaching the Filipino some of the Japanese practices through these skits.
After watching and learning from the masters, the audience were given a chance to share their happiness by ‘making their own Japanese comedy’! The audience, including the Japanese comedians, were grouped together and were tasked to make short, funny skits. There were all sorts of puns, fan-slapping, body gags, and slipping. The room was filled with laughter for an hour, and everyone was having a great time!
After the performances was one last mini event. As it was Kazu’s birthday that day, Tomo-Kai prepared a little surprise for him in the form of a candled roll cake. Everyone sang a “Happy Birthday” to him, and the candles were blown, prompting claps and cheers from the audience.
Once the curtains were drawn and the event was over, people mingled while taking photos and chatting. People left the room with smiles on their faces, hopefully satisfied by the performances they had just seen and the knowledge they had just acquired.
We would like to thank Nakamori-san, HPN3, and of course, everyone who attended our event. We hope that our next ACLE would be able to let everyone experience a slice of Japanese culture again, just like what this one had done.
Mina-san, otsukaresamadeshita!


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