The Consummate Crazy Japanese Comedy Show

December 29, 2008

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.


1 jay December 31, 2008 at 9:33 am

Just a quick note, if anybody is watching the show, I think the second part is going to be much more interesting than the first. The first part will be the battle between Moriman and Yamasaki. The second part will be the “no laughing” part.

2 kobuta March 16, 2009 at 3:34 am

I saw a show around New Years about a pair of comedians who were basically locked in a room for a week and had to try to finish eating 1000 senbei/500 cream stews/etc. in a week. Don’t suppose you know the name do you?

Love Gaki no Tsukai. The high school one from a few years back is epic!

3 jay March 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Ogon Densetsu is probably the show you mean. I don’t know the English name. It’s the same show that now has Bobby Olgon and his son on competing with another father and son combo (Hiromichi-onisan formerly of NHK’s Okasan to Isho) to see who can spend the least while still eating well for a month.

Some of the classic stuff Ogon Densetsu has done also had the guys from Cocorico living on eggs laid by a chicken he lived with. The show used to be much wackier but it must have seen a ratings jump when it did those “living on 10,000 yen a month” story lines and published some frugal cookbooks.

I also like the ones where they sit some guys down (I think it was the comedy trio “Robert” or Robaato) in a family restaurant and they have to eat everything on the menu. Also done for Kappa Sushi once. Funny stuff and the show probably gets some good advertising money to boot!

I hope that’s the show you’re looking for.

A great Gaki no Tsukai moment this year was when the older guy was on the bus yelling at a high school kid, then his bad boy buddies got on. The actor then fled the bus, but in a real accident sprained his ankle jumping down the steps. Needless to say, the Gaki no Tsukai guys just laughed.

4 kobuta March 20, 2009 at 4:28 am

That sounds like it. Thanks! I’m trying to see if it’s available online, but it doesn’t look like it’s popular enough (unlike Gaki no Tsukai). Will keep searching 🙂 The one with Cocorico sounds hilarious.

5 jay March 20, 2009 at 5:53 am

Here is the show’s Japanese homepage. I haven’t found anything on youtube, but if I do I’ll put it up.


6 matt August 30, 2010 at 6:39 pm

there are some really funny clips with two teams of Japanese comedians competing in the most outrageous contests

7 wes December 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I like any comedy by Ken Shimura, yeah, sometimes its really corny but it really is life in Japan