Learn about お笑い (Owarai, Comedy) in Japanese
Welcome back to our “Video & Article” series with tutor Miki. In this article and video, Wasabi Japanese tutor Miki teaches about お笑い (Owarai, Comedy) in Japanese. Miki will introduce different types of popular Japanese comedy and all relevant related terms and phrases.
|Table of Contents|
[コント & ショートコント]
In this lesson, Miki introduced concepts and vocabulary related to Japanese comedy. Comedy is called “お笑” in Japan.
Japan has many unique types of comedy that differ vastly from what you see in other countries, so in this article, we will take a look the most common types out there, what they are called, and which related terms will be useful to learn.
First, let’s take a look at some general terms you can use when speaking about comedy.
There are two slang words related to comedy that you will often hear while talking about Japanese comedy shows. The first one is used when jokes go well and is called “うける”.
うける (Sometimes also ウケる)
To be funny
When a comedian is not very funny, you can say “すべる”.
すべる (Sometimes also 滑る)
To fail when telling a joke
Ukeru literally means to “to receive, to accept”. Used as a long word it conveys that you get the joke and find it funny.
Suberu literally translates to “to slip, to slide”. When used in relation to comedy, it refers to someone making an unsuccessful joke.
That comedian wasn’t funny at all today.
That performance is really funny, isn’t it?
“芸” refers to a performance. Scripted jokes performed in お笑い are called “ネタ”. This is interesting because when talking about Sushi the Sashimi part of Sushi is referred to as ネタ as well. It’s the good part of the Sushi!
“ネタを考える” means to think about or to come up with scripted jokes. Another term that is often used is “自虐ネタ”, which means a self-deprecating joke. For example:
A comedian whose strength are his self-deprecating jokes
The first type of お笑い we are going to look at is called “漫才”. Manzai is a traditional Japanese style of stand-up comedy which usually involved two people who play the roles of “ボケ”, the silly one, and “つっこみ”, the smart one. These two have a fast-paced, humorous conversation. Puns are performed through a form of intentional misunderstandings by the silly one, which are corrected by the smart one.
[コント & ショートコント]
The second type of お笑い we will explain today is called “コント” or “ショートコント”. These terms originate from the French word “conte”, which means “story, tale”. In Japanese comedy, not only to people speak on stage, but they also perform short, comical plays. コント involved dressing up and using make-up and tools, just like a play, whereas during a ショートコント the performer usually doesn’t use a lot of tools. Before they begin their コント or ショートコント, the performers will dramatically state the title of their play.
For example, the comedian will say “ショートコント・店員さん”, and the show begins.
Japanese お笑い makes observational jokes not just through words, but sometimes through songs written by the comedians. These comical songs are called “リズムネタ”, which literally translates to “rhythmic jokes”.
The last type of お笑い for today is called “リアクション芸”. The literal translation is “reaction performance”. This means humour conveyed through physicality – similar to slapstick comedy in Western comedy. One popular comedian who does “リアクション芸” is called 出川哲郎 (Degawa Tetsuro). His comical facial expressions and overt physical reactions have been very popular for a long time in Japanese comedy shows. For example:
Degawa Tetsuro’s slapstick comedy is the best, isn’t it?
That’s everything for today. Thank you for reading this article, and please feel free to consult our native Japanese language teachers if you have any further questions!
|種類||Type, kind, variety|
|漫才||Manzai, comic dialogue|
|ボケ||The “stupid” one in Manzai comedy|
|つっこみ||The “smart” one in Manzai comedy|
|うける||To find something funny, to be funny|
|すべる||To tell a joke that’s not funny|
|ショートコント||Short comic play|
|リアクション芸||Comical performance based on physical reactions|