Thursday, 26 November 2015

Yuriko Kotani – 2015 BBC New Comedy Award winner

In the Japanese World of Comedy, the double act is king. Manzai is the dominant format, with two comedians delivering fast-paced puns and body gags. Solo stand-up comedians are far rarer. Before today, I could name only two Japanese stand-up comics: the first being Issey Ogata, who does (or did) comic monologues in character, and the second is Hyodo Daiki. While it’s easy to find his stuff in Japanese (search for 兵頭大樹 on YouTube), stuff with English subs is much more scarce. This is the only example I know of:

But today I discovered a third. Yuriko Kotani won the 2015 BBC Radio New Comedy Award. She’s based in London and only began doing stand-up in 2014.

I listened to the five minute set on the BBC webiste, and it was okay. It’s hard to get a good idea of a comedian from such a short amount, but it made me laugh. You can hear it on the BBC site here:

She talks about trains, which is a sensible enough topic, given the huge gulf between the Japanese and British railway systems. And it’s a safe topic, since everyone likes to complain about the trains in Britain. I wonder how I’d do in a similar situation where I was doing a stand-up routine for a Japanese audience, commenting on the cultural differences between us. But I guess a fifteen-minute rant about why cycling on the pavement is a bloody stupid thing to do wouldn’t be quite so popular.

It’ll be interesting to see how her career progresses. Judging by previous winners, she can look forward to the occasional panel show appearance and maybe a series on Radio 4.

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