It appears that there is a unusual finalist in this year’s R-1 Grand Prix, a major comedy tournament for solo performers in Japan. Appearing in the finals this year is comedian Hamada Yuutaro. What makes him stand out from other performers in the fact that he is basically blind with no vision in his left eye and very limited sight in his right. According to this article (in Japanese) from Sports Hochi, Yuutaro's routine focuses on his blindness, making his disability and himself the butt of the joke. It will be interesting to see how he does in the tournament and the attention he brings to disabled performers. I have known of a few disabled comedians in the United States and England but this is new territory for Japan as far as I can tell. For me, comedy is about having different voices and experiences heard and shared and the more different voices the better. Good luck to him.
There’s a short but interesting article of shokkiri, a humorous demonstration of forbidden sumo techniques that can be found at the cool website Spoon and Tamago.
Since Woman Rush Hour performed their shocking (to some) political routine (see here) and the end of last year there have been some interesting developments. The comedic duo were not invited to perform on any of the New Years comedy programs, suggesting that they may have been blacklisted for their controversial routine. Furthermore, Muramoto (writer of the routine and half of the duo) has flown off to Los Angeles for a couple months for a self-described "study abroad" focusing on stand-up comedy. There is certainly more to come here. Stay tuned!