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Eat It, in Japan
February 27, 2012 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Weird Al performs Eat It in Japan. Stay for the giant lobster man.

As referenced in today's interview on WTF.
posted by Think_Long (11 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is the best thing. The brief dance-off between the big guy and Al at the beginning is pretty amazing. Al has some incredible moves he can whip out when he's provoked.
posted by koeselitz at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2012


I just like the absolute bewilderment on his face, but still totally game to play along all the same.
posted by Think_Long at 8:52 AM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is as good of a place as any to link to the petition to get Al booked as the Superbowl halftime show.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


And for the record, he spoke (sang) a ton of Japanese during his performance, but was barely even given proper stage direction in English (when to take the stage, etc.) So, very well played indeed. This could have easily aired on U62..
posted by obscurator at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2012


Why is Japanese comedy so difficult to translate? And why do some instances translate so well while others do not? We need a universal translator and _fast_.
posted by pyrex at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2012


Erm, if the video I watched some time ago is anything like this one, the Japanese he sang was limited largely to "食え" (kue) which is a direct command form of "eat." Not exactly high-level stuff here. : P

Pyrex:

Leaving aside the really obvious tripping points like wordplay (because that's going to be the case even for different dialects of the same language — the Melbourne-based TISM uses rhymes in their songs that simply wouldn't rhyme in my native northeast US English), Japanese comedy is difficult to translate largely because you're working with a completely different set of cultural and pop cultural reference points. It's sort of like how it's hard for non-Americans to enjoy, say, The Simpsons (or especially Pete & Pete) nearly as much as natives do, because of the sheer number of pokes and prods and references to distinctly American things (and this is why Japan is basically the only market in the world that completely and utterly failed to "get" The Simpsons — they're better known as characters used briefly to market a lemon soda or something than as an actual television show). On the other hand, the US shares a lot of cultural heritage with other countries, both in origins (the UK and Europe) and in exports (movies and TV).

Japan, on the other hand, has a really insular sort of thing going on, because it's an island country that speaks a linguistic isolate, and it has a really strong domestic entertainment industry comprising books, movies, music, and TV. With the exception of really over-the-top slapstick like Hard Gay (who is gone and largely forgotten nowadays), or really nichey guys like Game Center CX's Shin'ya Arino, comedians don't really make it abroad because it's really hard to translate jokes that require awareness of things that just don't happen in other countries — you can't very well expect Americans to understand a funny story about, say, preparing middle school lunch (which is done by the whole class, together, in the classroom, and eaten at the desks) without a bunch of explanation of the whole kyushoku concept for foreigners trying to follow along. You can't make reference to Takahashi Meijin, spokesman for the video game company Hudson back in the day, and expect people in any other country to know offhand that he was at least briefly famous for his record-setting ability to hit a button on a Famicom controller 16 times in a second.

Interestingly, animated stuff in Japan tends to stay relatively non-topical in its humor, though there's often a good bit of absurdity and silliness involved anyway (c.f. Nichijou/My Ordinary Life). Live-action comedy, though, is a wholly different beast in Japan, with the American sitcom structure literally limited only to American imports (and Full House and Friends still retain some popularity in Japan, though dubbed over, and there's a whole other treatise that could be written on the woeful utilitarianism of Japanese subtitles and dubs of English-language movies and TV shows, since they tend to go straight for the bare meanings of each utterance, with little regard for the "flavor" of slang or register), and most Japanese comedy shows being essentially panel-based and largely unscripted — these often revolve around riffing off of each other's comments, and more generally involve telling stories or making funny comments on others' than telling scripted jokes. They also often involve reference to famous people, whether politicians or entertainers, and virtually none of these people are known overseas.

In other words, Japanese comedy is hard to translate for the same reason that any other really specialized knowledge base tends to lead to difficult-to-explain comedy: you need to know a lot going in, and the odds are that based on where you grew up and live now, and your current hobbies, you simply don't share the same awareness and experiences that the audience can safely be expected to.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:45 PM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why is Japanese comedy so difficult to translate? And why do some instances translate so well while others do not? We need a universal translator and _fast_.

There's not much to translate. The "comedy" here is not particularly funny; calling it "slapstick" would be elevating what these "manzai" morons are doing. When I first arrived in Japan this sort of crap would be on Japanese late night tv all the time, but luckily it's getting rarer and rarer.

It's a really interesting (at least to me) contrast between the "high" and "low" cultures of Japan (and these twits are the lowest of the low).
posted by KokuRyu at 5:32 PM on February 27, 2012


for anyone who's wondering about the "michael jackson" guy, black face is totally fine in japan. not that long ago doo-wop group Rats & Star was pretty popular.
posted by mexican at 6:50 PM on February 27, 2012


There's not much to translate. The "comedy" here is not particularly funny; calling it "slapstick" would be elevating what these "manzai" morons are doing.

Yeah, I've seen plenty enough of this crap to know it wasn't even funny within its own genre. I lasted about 5 seconds.

Now to cleanse the palate, Japanese cuisine that is far more delicious:

The Tubes perform Sushi Girl.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:39 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Japan outweirds Weird Al. This is my surprised face. :|
posted by Plemer at 7:55 PM on February 27, 2012


This is as good of a place as any to link to the petition to get Al booked as the Superbowl halftime show.

I don't think Al's qualified. Doesn't your career need to dry up for fifteen or twenty years first?
posted by Zed at 9:54 AM on February 28, 2012


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