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Best tetris ever?
May 22, 2012 12:29 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever bought one of those cheapo generic Tetris games? From an article on Understanding Japanese Comedy.
posted by PeterMcDermott (24 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh man, Netajin is hilarious. His skits on bizarre ESL lessons are great too.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:41 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we're talking about Understanding Japanese Comedy, would immediately explaining each joke be the usual thing? It was a bit of a funny-killer at first but you get used to it after a few iterations and it starts getting funny again.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:47 AM on May 22, 2012


If we're talking about Understanding Japanese Comedy, would immediately explaining each joke be the usual thing?

Not sure as I don't speak Japanese. Stuff that I've read suggests there might be all manner of funny word play in there that non-Japanese speakers don't get, but I've no idea if it's true in this case.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:50 AM on May 22, 2012


That said, I've seen a couple of hilarious films on the subject of Japanese comedy. Talk, Talk, Talk -- about an apprentice rakugo comedian. Apparently, Japanese comics learn their craft via apprenticeship. The other one is called A Hardest Night, also about rakugo, in which a rakugo master dies and his acolytes gather to see him off.

Both films were fantastic and are highly recommended.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:01 AM on May 22, 2012


If we're talking about Understanding Japanese Comedy, would immediately explaining each joke be the usual thing? It was a bit of a funny-killer at first but you get used to it after a few iterations and it starts getting funny again.

One way to think of this is that they're not just telling jokes, they're playing characters. It's funny when Netajin says "What the hell's supposed to be fun about this?!" for the same reason that it's funny when John Goodman in The Big Lebowski says... well, anything, even if you've already memorized every single one of his lines.

It doesn't work the way it would in English-language sketch comedy, where the misbehaving Tetris would be the joke (and the challenge for the scriptwriter is coming up with funny lines to glue together the Tetris gags). In Netajin's performance, the crazy Tetris is a subgag that also functions as another setup, and Netajin's over-the-top, Kansai-style (natch) reactions are the true payoff.
posted by No-sword at 1:05 AM on May 22, 2012


I want you to come with the stick!

What the Fuck?
posted by item at 1:22 AM on May 22, 2012


The linked article is about "understandable Japanese comedy" not "understanding Japanese comedy".
posted by memebake at 1:30 AM on May 22, 2012


Such a house is no!
posted by RokkitNite at 2:37 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just watched a few Netajin videos, and they're pretty good, including this one, which is a spot-on Gundam parody, except...

(this is a spoiler)



It doesn't seem to have a punchline? I was baffled by what seemed to be a build-up to a final joke, but turned out to be a moment of inexplicable sincerity.
posted by rifflesby at 2:52 AM on May 22, 2012


As a gamer, and a lover of all thing Tetris-y, and someone who only speaks English I found the sketch pretty amusing.

The only thing I thought might need filtering through a cultural gaze was the final joke about the size and utilities in an average Japanese apartment. I got it, but didn't think it was funny, but then I've never had to face the issues of finding a cheap, decent sized apartment in urban Japan - I imagine it's not much fun ?

Tetris clones and their varying levels of crap-ness are surely a universal theme ?
posted by Faintdreams at 3:30 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like it, but in a way, it's sort of misleading. One of the sad parts of Japanese is that there really just aren't any bad words. Sure, you can throw around an accent or two, but even the bad words get shown on TV, just with one or two characters missing, so everyone knows what got bleeped out. The subtitles have tons of "what the fuck?" but nanja/nanda korya? just doesn't have that same exasperated punch.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:37 AM on May 22, 2012


If we're talking about Understanding Japanese Comedy, would immediately explaining each joke be the usual thing? It was a bit of a funny-killer at first but you get used to it after a few iterations and it starts getting funny again.

I'm not a big Japanese comedy expect but I think part of it might be basing a lot of the humor on someone's reaction to a joke, rather than basing the humor on the joke itself. In American comedy the group I can think of that did that the most was The Whitest Kids U' Know, a lot of their sketches revolved around someone's reaction, such as in the buckets one, or the boss one, or the astronaut one.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:14 AM on May 22, 2012


"Guy slips on banana peel" pretty much translates into any language, since it really doesn't rely on language at all. When you start relying on puns, rhyming or homonyms things generally fall apart.

I have a friend who lives and works in Chennai and while at work got into a discussion with a local (who spoke Tamil) about this. He made his point by asking him to translate into Tamil the old chestnut "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."
posted by tommasz at 5:38 AM on May 22, 2012


The linked article is about "understandable Japanese comedy" not "understanding Japanese comedy".

That's the article's title. The article aims to help non-Japanese to improve their understanding of Japanese comedy, so it's a distinction without a difference.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:03 AM on May 22, 2012


I thought the bit with the floor plans was really funny. I've never tried to find an apartment in Japan -- although I did have the pleasure of living in very tiny dorm room -- but I do live in one of the few parts of the world that can actually rival Tokyo for small aparments and high rents...
posted by Jeanne at 7:04 AM on May 22, 2012


The linked article is about "understandable Japanese comedy" not "understanding Japanese comedy".

That's the article's title. The article aims to help non-Japanese to improve their understanding of Japanese comedy, so it's a distinction without a difference.


Not at all. Humor is culturally based. I read "understanding japanese comedy" and expected an explanation of the culture and aesthetics of japanese comedy that would help me understand why the linked video is popular. Something educative that raises' the audience's level to the point where they can understand the joke.

What the article was was "understandable japanese comedy" which is japanese comedy in which the japanese and the jokes are simple enough to be easy for japanese learners to understand. It selects jokes that the audience is already at a level to understand, rather than educating the audience. It explains nothing about the cultural environment or the structure of japanese comedy as it differs from american comedy.

So it's a distinction with a huge difference: "understanding" is a dynamic change in the audience. "understandable" is a static property of the joke.
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:21 AM on May 22, 2012


Japanese comedy is a mixture of slapstick and wordplay, with an unhealthy dose of pranks thrown in.

The secret to understanding Japanese comedy is to learn Japanese (Gaijinpot is really for foreigners just off the boat), and I would recommend the manga of Masashi Ueda as a teaching tool.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:28 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I laughed way too hard at that. But then, I understand Japanese and the cultural references (which aren't really that essential to understanding it). But my reaction to seeing "What the fuck" as a translation for "nani kore" was "what the fuck?"

I have thought a lot about Japanese humor over the years. Since I have a degree in Japanese Literature, I could cite examples going back hundreds of years (but mercifully, I won't). It is my personal theory that the Japanese don't really understand satire the way it is used in English language humor. Satire is one of the foundations of American humor particularly. For example, I used to work with a lot of Japanese exchange students who were majors in English Literature, most of them had read and studied Mark Twain but not a single one of them saw the least bit of humor in his work. I would show them some of his most outrageous, hilarious passages and they still didn't think it was funny.

My theory is that Japanese humor is based on cruelty and humiliation, it's bullying (ijime). I really only came to understand this when I watched a lot of TV in Japan and saw what was routinely presented on comedy shows. I remember one show sort of like Candid Camera, where a businessman at a karaoke bar was enticed by a group of hot women to drink a lot, progressively take off his clothes, and sing and goof on the stage with the girls. Then at the end, it was revealed his wife was in the audience and saw the whole thing. He was humiliated and got down on his knees to beg her forgiveness. Big laughs. Then another time, I saw the popular TV show SMAP, they had a contest. Men from the audience were selected to compete. First you had to ride a little car down a ramp and see if you could smash through a brick wall. One guy got part of the way through, but the bricks fell on him, he was knocked out and injured, and was carried off stage. Then the winners of this round moved on to the next competition, they had to lay on their backs with their legs in the air, in what we'd call "bicycle position." They were naked, and they had to hold their legs up while a lit candlestick shoved into their anus. Hot wax dripped down on their genitals (censored by a blue dot, to preserve propriety) and as they shook in pain, the candle flame would burn their knees.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:58 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fair comment, yeolcoatl. I stand corrected.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2012


After watching the video "Green soybeans is obstructive" makes sense. Thanks.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:23 PM on May 22, 2012


So, charlie don't surf, what you are saying is that maybe they would love the early seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm?
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:43 PM on May 22, 2012


My theory is that Japanese humor is based on cruelty and humiliation, it's bullying (ijime). I really only came to understand this when I watched a lot of TV in Japan and saw what was routinely presented on comedy shows.


kwa ki ser pi ni ku!!!
posted by jpdoane at 7:48 PM on May 22, 2012


One of the first Japanese words that English-speakers want to learn is "joke." But it turns out to be one of the least useful. Sorry, we don't tell jokes here. Care to give somebody a wedgie? :-)
posted by circular at 9:14 PM on May 22, 2012


While non-Japanese-speaking foreigners may not get it, Japanese children (including my kids) are introduced to pretty sophisticated wordplay in the awesome NHK Series "Nihongo De Asobo", where famed Rakugo comedy performer Kanda Sanyo III is a regular guest.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:22 PM on May 23, 2012


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