Sit-down comedy

I listened to a BBC documentary yesterday about rakugo — Japanese “sit-down comedy” (as compared to stand-up comedy, of course) as it is described in the documentary. It’s called Time Noodles because that’s the title of one of the comedic short stories the rakugo artist tells.

You can listen to it online, download an mp3, and you can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. It’s 27 minutes long.

The documentary is fascinating:

  • I learned a little about the life of a deshi, an apprentice to a rakugo master, and
  • I was surprised at Ms. Oshima’s experience performing in Pakistan, where she couldn’t tell if women were laughing behind their veils, and
  • I thought comparisons of rakugo to bonsai and California roll sushi was amusing, and
  • I thought a lot about the question posed at the beginning of the documentary: is rakugo something that can be exported to other countries and cultures, or is too much is lost in translation.
  • Also, despite the decline in popularity of the tradition in recent years, the documentary mentions that younger people today are becoming interested again. I hope that’s true.

I found a clip of the artist telling the Time Noodles story on YouTube, to an audience in Hawaii:

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