Surprise Upset as Unknown Blind Comedian Hamada Yuutaro Wins 2018 R-1 Grand Prix!

Surprise Upset as Unknown Blind Comedian Hamada Yuutaro Wins 2018 R-1 Grand Prix!

Hamada Yuutaro, the almost completely blind comedian, has been catapulted to sudden fame by coming out of nowhere and winning the 2018 R-1 Grand Prix, a nationwide competition for solo comedians. In a closely contested contest where Hamada needed a tie-break to advance out of the group block stage unto the finals his quick talking delivery and a routine which centred around his blindness led him to victory. It’s fairly common for comedians in Japan to focus on their shortcomings or differences, making the most of what some might see as a disadvantage. The duo Trendy Angel has made a good living on making fun of their early baldness while countless other duos make fun of their obesity, perceived ugliness and so on. As far as I know, however, Hamada is the first to make it this far by focusing on his physical disability. (In the United States I have seen a few comedians in a similar position including comedians with conditions like M.S. ) It will be interesting to see how he will handle his new fame and how this will bring a point of view into the public sphere. Although any comedy loses something in the translation I have translated his routine which you can see in the video below (until it gets taken down due to copyright issues).

English translation:

Thank you very much. I’m Hamada Yuutaro.
Since advancing to the finals of the R-1 Grand Prix I was asked at the press conference what I would do with the winnings of 5 million yen if I won the tournament and since I can’t see I really want to use the money on something meaningless. Because I can’t see I don’t have a license but I still want to buy a Prius.

I want to try and upgrade to a 3-D TV.

Then I want to scream at that (3-D) TV, “You can’t fool me!”

And since I can’t see I want to go against the grain and buy things that are meaningless like glasses. Because my vision is so bad wearing glasses are meaningless. To me, glasses are a stick with glass attached to them, just a stick.

I can’t believe wearing something like that would help me see!

When I was young I went to a local elementary and junior high but for high school, I starting attending a special school for the blind. Schools for the blind have some unusual traits. Of course, because this is a school for the blind all the students have bad eyesight.

(Even so) there was a blackboard in the room! I can’t see it!

I can’t tell what is being written on the board and one day I thought I might scribble something on the board and went up there to find out that wasn’t any chalk or erasers.

I asked the teacher why and he said, “Even if there were chalk and erasers no one would use them.”

That’s true for a blackboard too!!

“Even if there were we wouldn’t use them?!” but you still have a blackboard?! I wonder about something like that. Even though no one will use it your school has blackboards? Is this something to do with the pride of the school?!

Another thing I have a problem with are the tiles on the ground in front of train stations with blocks sticking up (so that blind people and find stairs and such). These tiles are there so that blind people can orient themselves but at my school, there were no such tiles on or around the stairs! THIS is the place where you need these the most!! I thought “What the hell? What is with this tough love education?!”

And when you’re blind some say that other senses like your hearing make up for it. For example, during a break between classes while talking with classmates you could tell who was coming just by the sound of their footsteps in the hallway. People around me talked about such things. I didn’t get it right even once!

“Here comes Kimura Sensei.”

I would fake it and say, “Ah, you’re right” to just fit in!

And at that moment, even though everyone had poor eyesight and couldn’t tell, I was nodding my heading in agreement!

And what is really a pain for people who can’t see well is that we can’t tell the distance between ourselves and others. We can’t tell how far apart we are so when we are told to line up with the person in front of us in the gym by pointing our arms in front of us it really hurts! It really stabs you in the back! “Ouch! Ouch!”

One time the person behind me poked me with such force I thought my shoulder blade would fly off!

And some of the teachers at this school for the blind would come to us after teaching at normal schools. These teachers would sometimes say crazy stuff. Another time when they wanted us to line up one teacher said, “Okay. Everyone line up at the white line.” Hey, we can’t see that line!!

And this teacher caught his mistake and I’m not sure if he was trying to cover-up his mistake but his follow-up was even crazier. “Everyone, use the eyes in your soul.” Whaaaaaaat?! He said two impossible things! “Use the eyes in your soul”??! If we could use the “eyes in our soul” to see things we wouldn’t be coming to a school for the blind in the first place!!!

That time I was so surprised that even though I couldn’t see I became dizzy! 

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