Top 9 Funniest Moments in Japanese Comedy Show “Waratte wa Ikenai”
Japan is known for its slapstick comedy, and some of the sketches you can see on TV can seem quite bizarre. Some of the most well known Japanese comedians hail from Osaka in Kansai, the city of street food, Universal Studios Japan, and Dotonbori shopping street.
Gaki no Tsukai is a well-known comedy show starring (from left to right on the photo below) Hosei Yamasaki, Hitoshi Matsumoto, Masatoshi Hamada, Shozo Endo, and Naoki Tanaka. They do a six-hour show every year on New Year’s Eve called Waratte wa Ikenai, which means “Laughing is Forbidden.”
The basic concept of Waratte wa Ikenai is that a theme is decided - previous themes have included nurse, sheriff, and prisoner - and the members are out through various tasks where other actors, including celebrity guests, try to make them laugh.
If anyone laughs, they are “OUT,” and get smacked on the butt with a plastic baton. The number of times they’re hit is displayed at the end of the show.
It’s fun watching the members trying to keep a straight face with the creative sketches, videos, and props, and there are some moments that have just had me howling with laughter. Here’s a list of my top nine favorite moments. The videos all have English subtitles.
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9. Playing Super Mario
Also in the 2015 show, the members played a game of Super Mario Maker on the Wii, only to perform really badly. It's so funny watching them concentrating hard but losing almost right away. It's a scene that'll have you giggling, for sure.
8. The Baby Mask
In the science-themed 2016 show, Tanaka found a strange mask inside a box. After initially giggling at the weird giant baby head, Tanaka put the mask on and it just tickled the rest of the members. It's just so ridiculous that you can't help grinning.
7. The Trap Gas Mask
During the 2014 prison-themed show, the guys found five gas masks right before an alarm went off warning them of a toxic gas leak. Everyone hurries to put the masks on but when they take them off, Hosei finds himself in some trouble.
The guys just can't stop laughing at him, causing them to be smacked several times by the punishers. Check out poor Hosei and the trap he found himself in.
6. Endo's Wife Wants a Ring
Shozo Endo has a bit of a reputation for messing around. His second wife showed up completely unexpectedly during the 2016 show to ask him why he hasn't bought a ring for her yet despite the fact they've been married for a year. Eventually, he promises he will and she gives him a kiss.
It's quite rare in Japanese society for couples to show affection in public and the fact that she showed up to his surprise and badgered him in front of all his friends and viewers was something that tickled a lot of people. I personally thought it was adorable, and it was fun seeing the handsome Endo blush.
5. Jimmy Onishi Falls Asleep
Also in 2016 was a scene where Jimmy Onishi, an artist and frequent guest of Gaki no Tsukai, is recorded making funny noises in his sleep. The other actors took him out drinking and then filmed him snoring.
It's so funny seeing everyone trying desperately not to laugh at Jimmy's twitching and unusual noises. The guys just can't keep their faces straight.
4. Sour Noodles
Towards the end of the 2014 show, the teams sometimes have challenges where they compete against each other. One very memorable moment was when two teams had to try and finish five bowls of noodles, each bowl more sour than the last. It's hilarious to watch the players try to finish bowls four and five before the timer runs out.
3. The Stressed High School Student
I remember laughing for ages at this sketch when I watched it in 2016. The initially heartwarming scene transformed into something shockingly funny in just a couple of seconds, and it remains one of my favourite comedy sketches of all time to this day.
2. Jimmy Onishi Tries to Say "Massachusetts"
With another visit from Jimmy Onishi in the 2015 show, this short sketch will get anybody giggling. Onishi tries to read part of the movie script of Annie, and has a lot of trouble trying to say "Massachusetts-chuu" ("chuu" meaning "state"), and even the professional-looking director can't keep a straight face.
Jimmy's adorable face and obvious genuine effort he's putting into this tongue-twister makes it even funnier. It remains one of Waratte wa Ikenai's most popular moments.
1. Ramen Noodles and the Hot Maid
This is a slapstick sketch that I believe anyone can enjoy, and I can't watch it without howling with laughter. A group of half-naked men always appear towards the end of each year's show and do various silly and pointless games and challenges for the sake of comedy.
In 2015, there were two challenges that, in my opinion, are some of the show's best. One involves eating ramen noodles on the back of a bucking truck, and the other is having to put on a maid's outfit straight from hot water. It's hilarious and just so silly. If you only watch one video today, make it this one.
The 2017 show of Waratte wa Ikenai was comparably quite disappointing, but watching the recorded show after last New Year's Eve got me thinking about funny previous shows. Enjoy the videos above, and try to do what the main comedians do and watch them without laughing! Which one was your favourite?
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