Famous people on TV are rarely known outside their country. The Japanese have their own name for celebrities: お笑い芸人 (owarai geinin), お笑いタレント (owarai tarento), or simply 芸人 (geinin), which would translate to ‘comedian artist’, ‘comedian talent(ed) person’, or just ‘artist’.
There is often a duo of two comedians pairing to let the audience laugh, though single comedians are no rare thing. The so-called ‘tarento’ is misleading, since those people are rarely really talented people, rather than good looking and somehow charming or know how to converse well, therefore they made it up the career ladder. Of course, this is just a stereotype. They are famous for the sake of being famous.
However, comedians are talented indeed, and though the language is a key factor to understand a joke, there is a group, that became famous worldwide, due to their unique and absolute funny performance and pranks.
絶対に笑ってはいけない… (zettai ni waratte ha ikenai …) means ‘Absolutely No Laughing’ and the main rule in this performance is not to laugh. Rule violators are punished physically, leaving everyone laughing, particularly the watching audience.
The group participating in this 罰ゲーム(batsu ge-mu), ’punishing game’ consists of Downtown, one of the most famous kombi in Japan, who are known for their sarcastic, short-tempered stage personas and three other comedians (Endo, Yamazaki, Tanaka).
Though no translations have been made, the show is widely known around the world due to the show being passed on the internet, especially with the help of youtube.
Best is, to watch an episode yourself! Each show has one theme, being it at the airport, at the hospital, at the hotel, or even at the school! The comedians are made to wear uniforms and be part of their environment by working or attending meetings.
Whatever humour you like, you will surely fall in love with these comedians, who never fail to entertain you!