Get Ready for the "First Laugh": Comedy Takes Over TV During New Year Celebration
Bigger for Japanese and longer than Christmas in length, the New Years holiday or oshougatsu is almost upon us. Japanese love to place an emphasis on the “first” of something during the new years celebration, the first sunrise (hatsu hinode), first sale (hatsu uri), the first dream you see (hatsu yume) and of course, the first laugh (hatsu warai). It should be noted that manzai, Japan’s most popular comedy style, originated in the Heian period (the years 794 to 1194 ) as a festive performance around the first of the year thought to bring luck to the household. This older style was quite different than what we see today, involving singing and a drum, but the image of comedy ringing in the year remains true to this day (not to mention, TV stations have a lot of airtime to fill). So, more than any time during the year you can find multiple comedy programs featuring tons of comedians who are rarely seen on television during the rest of the year. This is not to say that they don’t deserve more TV time. It’s just that there are very few regular TV shows that give time for comedians to actually perform their routines (many comedians are regulars on various TV shows but serve more as funny personalities). Some of these programs are live from various yose around the country, giving the viewer a chance to see rakugo and other forms of entertainment that you can usually only see in theaters. So, clean out that DVR and start picking which programs to record! It’s not just Downtown out there!