Despite most assuming that Japan is a country of serious faces and hidden emotions, the TV industry is booming with slapstick comedy, comedians from Osaka, and classic shows putting a smile on fans’ faces. Japanese comedy comes in a variety of types: rakugo, an amusing monologue performed by a solo speaker; owarai, which includes game shows and variety shows; manzai, which involves two characters swapping jokes in a fast-paced dialogue, usually with one intelligent and the other dim-witted; and kyogen, which you may see in traditional Noh performances in the shape of satire and slapstick. Some Japanese comedies have become so famous that they are recognized in other parts of the world, such as the notorious “PPAP” song by Daimaou Kosaka.
One popular owarai show is Gaki no Tsukai‘s Waratte wa Ikenai, which means “laughing is forbidden.” It is a special six-hour New Year show starring five popular comedians: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Naoki Tanaka, Masatoshi Hamada, Hosei Yamasaki (Hosei Tsukitei), and Shozo Endo. The show has a different theme each year and it involves a number of challenges and sketches designed to make the comedians laugh. If they laugh, they are punished.
The show has had various famous guests in the past, sometimes serious actors playing silly roles, or well-known models or comedians. Jimmy Onishi has appeared many times on Waratte wa Ikenai as a guest. Onishi is known for being a little slow, although he is exceptionally good at painting.
Here are the top five funniest Jimmy Onishi moments when he has appeared on Waratte wa Ikenai to make the comedians, and audiences at home, laugh until their sides ache! All of the following videos have English subtitles:
The staff took Jimmy out to get him really drunk and then let him sleep, where they filmed him making odd noises. The actors just can’t keep straight faces while the snoring Jimmy makes sounds like a dog, especially with the subtitles!
Japanese comedy often involves making someone extremely uncomfortable with unpleasant sensations, such as bad flavors or extreme temperatures. As well as being a great painter, Jimmy Onishi also has a very sensitive sense of smell. In this sketch, Onishi is asked to examine and play a foul-smelling harmonica, and his reaction is classic.
Most Japanese people learn a little English in school and can say basic words, phrases, and numbers. Jimmy was asked to count to 100 in English and takes a wild guess when he doesn’t know, making for very funny consequences.
Again taking advantage of Jimmy Onishi’s incredibly sensitive nose, he is given a disgusting-smelling object and asked to describe it. His reaction is just hilarious, proving impossible for the hosts to keep their faces straight. (Begin at 00:50.)
The top funniest Jimmy Onishi moment has to be when he was asked to read out a script of Annie, but was completely unable to pronounce “Massachusetts state.” It’s so funny that even the producer loses it. See if you can watch it without smiling!
Waratte wa Ikenai continues to entertain people across the country every New Year’s Eve with ridiculous sketches and funny moments that put smiles on people’s faces with the turn of the new year. We are certainly hoping to see a lot more of the wonderful Jimmy Onishi.