The craziest comedy show of the year (and a lot of the runners-up) are on during winter holidays when a lot of people around the archipeligo are at grandma’s house watching tv on an old tv set. It’s the season for singing contests, impersonation battles, manzai comedy shows, and the king of all wackiness, “Downtown no Gaki no Tsukaiya Arahen-de!“. The version being aired this New Year’s Eve is the version in which the contestants are beaten if they laugh at the wackiness ensuing around them.
This is the show that people outside of Japan see and seem to think is a Japanese game show with people getting beaten with bats for laughing. Well, I don’t think the bats hurt all that much, and the “contestants” are actually some of the biggest comedians in Japan.
Ｔｈｅ ｓｈｏｗ ｓｔａｒｓ Ｄｏｗｎｔｏｗｎ, an extremely popular and influential comedy group made up of Hitoshi Matsumoto (in the dark suit above) and Masatoshi Hamada (on Matsumkoto’s left, or from the camera’s perspective the one on the far right).
Cocorico also appears on the show. Cocorico is a manzai pair made up of Shozo Endo (recently divorced from Japanese singer and tv personality, Chiaki), and Naoki Tanaka. They are pictured above standing next to Downtown. Tanaka is the taller of the two, and the tallest man in the picture above.
The final regular member and “contestant” of the show is Hosei Yamasaki, pictured above closest to the camera. He often gets the biggest brunt of punishment, and has a long standing battle with large female comedian named Holstein Morio of the comedy group Moriman. They are scheduled to have a wrestling match during this year’s episode of Gaki no Tsukai.
Granted, there will be a little gross out humor, and maybe some dull moments, but I always find something wacky to laugh at. Often the funniest things you find are otherwise serious actors, going over the top for some laughs.
If you’re home in Japan on New Year’s Eve, and in the right frame of mind with hours to kill, just tune grandma’s old tv to NTV and waste about six hours laughing at the pretend pain of others.
The show is on from 6:30 p.m. to about 12:20 a.m. on New Year’s Day. I think most people will be flipping the tv between this and the NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red vs White Song Battle on NHK), martial arts fights, quiz shows and other things.
I do recommend you tune in to NHK just before the turn of the year for some peaceful and very Japanese images from different temples and shrines around Japan. I find it a nice, quiet way to welcome the new year.