Monday, January 22, 2007

Make 'Em Laugh, Make 'Em Vote: Waseda University Maintains Stranglehold on Comedy and Politics Combo

Someone asked me why I am not blogging on Sonomanma Higashi (excuse me, Toshio Higashikokubaru) and his victory in the Miyazaki Prefecture gubernatorial race.

Okay then, here goes nothing…



The LDP, with support from independents, managed to work both the win-loss ends of the [three (Jan. 23 reedit)] gubernatorials. The DPJ was mostly MIA. If it wants to be taken seriously and not just be a poor man's LDP/rich man's Shakaito, they should forget about July and focus on building a party organization. Figure out a way to get volunteers to make a long-term commitment of some of their time and, hopefully, money. And go out there and do it.

But seriously, Tetsuji Mochinaga became the first ex-METI official to lose a gubernatorial race. Word. Toshio Higashikokubaru lapped him and then some (with a little help form the other conservative candidate), maintaining a perfect record for comedians. That's right, folks, comedians are now hitting three for three: Yukio Aoshima (Tokyo, 1994-99), Knock Yokoyama (Osaka, 1995-2000), and now Mr. Higashikokubaru.

Some of you will claim that Mr. Aoshima was a radio and TV writer. True. But the Japanese public knew him better as a performer in his own right on the immensely popular "Shabondama Holiday" (think Lawrence Welk meets Ed Sullivan meets SNL) and as the nasty old woman in "Ijiwaru Baasan (Nasty Old Woman)", an immensely popular situation comedy of the sixties, seventies and eighties. (Those are Lucy Ricardo numbers. BTW, did you know that The Locomotion was a No. 1 US hit in the sixties, seventies and eighties? Get well soon, Kylie!)

Mr. Higashikokubaru and Mr. Aoshima have another thing in common: they both went to Waseda University. In fact, Waseda has a well-earned reputation as a prime source of comedians, comedy writers and humorists, as well as politicians. (Keio is famous for its New York restaurateur alumni.) And some have done both. Akiyuki Nosaka and Chinpei Nozue, started out as a stand-up comic, manzai duo, Waseda Rakudai (flunked) and Chutai (dropped out), before going on to become successful writers and serving in the Diet.

Mr. Higashikokubaru (this is about as painful to type as Ahmadinejad, though easier to pronounce) adds a new twist, since he went to Waseda after a successful career as a comedian.

Good luck... oh, what the heck... Mr. Higashi.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for what You are doing!Information, that I managed to find here
is extremely useful and essential for me!With the best regards!
David

Jun Okumura said...

David:

I exercised a little bit of poetic license when I compared Yukio Aoshima to the immortal Lucille Ball. Although Ms. Ball continued to play "Lucy" beyond the orginal 1951-57 "I Love Lucy" and the 1957-60 "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour", the "Ricardos" were left behind when the real-life couple divorced.

Another point: the manzai career of Waseda Rakudai and Chutai was very brief and forgettable. However, they did become successful TV and radio comedy and gag writers before they branched out into other areas of literature and entertainment, and eventually politics as well.

Finally, thank you for your kind words.

Jun Okumura said...

(reedited)

I exercised a little bit of poetic license when I compared Yukio Aoshima to the immortal Lucille Ball. Although Ms. Ball continued to play "Lucy" beyond the orginal 1951-57 "I Love Lucy" and the 1957-60 "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour", the "Ricardos" were left behind when the real-life couple divorced. Mr. Aoshima played the same "Ijiwaru Baasan" (I don't think she was given a name) character during each resurrection.

Another point: the manzai career of Waseda Rakudai and Chutai was very brief and forgettable. However, they did become successful TV and radio comedy and gag writers before they branched out into other areas of literature and entertainment, and eventually politics as well. So you could say that they stayed in character.

Finally, let me thank you for your kind words

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for what You are doing!Information, that I managed to find here
is extremely useful and essential for me!With the best regards!
James
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