Manzai and conto in the US.

In Japan, there are two popular forms of live comedy: manzai(漫才) and conto(コント).

A real quick overview of some Japanese comedy terms:

Manzai (漫才): A standup act usually performed by two people. One is the boke, and the other is the tsukkomi(see below).

Conto (コント): A skit performed to tell stories to make people laugh. Derived from the French word conte, which means tale.

Boke (ボケ): A verb and a noun. As a verb, it is when the comedian does or says something funny. As a noun, the comedian tasked with the boke role. The joke can also be referred to as the boke.

Tsukkomi (ツッコミ): Again, a verb and a noun. As a verb, it is when the comedian interjects and hits the boke when the boke does a boke(I know, super confusing). The comedian tasked with the tsukkomi role is referred to as the tsukkomi.

Many Japanese comedians perform a mix of both manzai and conto.

I just saw a standup set on the Tonight Show which reminded me a lot of the Japanese standup style.

Here it is:

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While the boke-tsukkomi relationship was lacking, the conto-style storytelling in the end reminded me of some good ol’ Japanese standup. I thought the set was quite funny, too. Naturally, the bros had good chemistry.

I haven’t watched a good Japanese standup set in a while. Time to dig into one of my favorite pastimes of high school.

Here’s a classic from a brother duo from Japan, the Nakagawas(中川家).