Hi Reddit!

I'm Yuriko Kotani, UK-based Japanese stand-up comedian, winner of BBC Radio New Comedy Award 2015!

Twitter account: Yuriko Kotani @YurikoComedy

Facebook page: facebook.com/YurikoKotaniComedy

Reddit sub: /r/YurikoKotani/ (I made subreddit in case you don't use facebook or twitter, I hope that's not too presumptuous)

Thank you very much for liking my video. I am new to this but will try and answer your questions! Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/YurikoComedy/status/744967854768951300

Comments: 90 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

jordangoretro35 karma

Hi Yuriko!

Thank you for doing this AMA because you are the perfect person to answer a question I have had for a long time.

To me, it seems there are huge differences in stand-up comedy between Japan and the West.

Japan seems focused on skits, and there often seems to be a central theme to a comedian. In England and America at least, it's mostly story based and often times self deprecating or critical of a lot of things.

I don't think I've seen a Japanese comedian telling jokes about themselves, criticizing other Japanese people or the country, and on the whole just saying what we're all thinking. Where is the Japanese George Carlin?

Why do you think that kind of western stand-up isn't as popular in Japan? Or maybe it is and it just isn't that visible. Also, why does this style of comedy appeal to you more than something you would see in Japan?

YurikoKotani4 karma

Thank you for the very interesting questions! I'm a comic and not an industry expert, so I don't know if I can answer those questions well, but I try! Yes, Japanese comics do lots of sketches, and talk about light, fun entertaining subjects, which are often shown on TV or online and family friendly which means adults with kids can watch together. (Japan has TV programmes that people criticising things as well. Also comics doing jokes about other Japanese people too.) So for this kind of question, it might be better to ask people from Japanese comedy industry/media! (I'm interested in as well!)

MackemAB7 karma

Which comedians do you look up to, or you have been influenced by?

YurikoKotani12 karma

I look up every comedians. They are such hardworking and lovely people and I respect them so much. But I think I've been influenced by British comedy. The first time when I watched British sitcom, it blew my mind.

Troppin6 karma

Which language is funnier, English or Japanese?

YurikoKotani13 karma

Comedy in both languages make me laugh (even though English and Japanese are very different!). I've done stand-up comedy only in English but I love making people laugh in Japanese too. So perhaps I will try stand-up in Japanese and find out!

NuclearPissOn6 karma

Are there any jokes that you've wanted to use in your set, but found that they only work in Japanese?

YurikoKotani6 karma

Not yet at the moment. But as I write more, I'm sure I'll write jokes which only work in Japanese!

Lohi5 karma

How did you get into stand-up? When you went to Japan did you do your routine in English or Japanese?

YurikoKotani4 karma

I wanted to write comedy instead of performing because I've never thought that I can speak in front of people on stage with a microphone (and tell jokes!!) But I thought myself if I really want to write comedy, I must challenge stand-up and learn. So I did. I did in English at shows in Japan, and I really enjoyed it!

WhatifThumbelina5 karma

What made you want to be a comedian in an English-speaking country?

YurikoKotani10 karma

I fell in love with British comedy when I arrived the UK, and I think this passion made me do it!

AkashicRecorder5 karma

Hi Yuriko!

What would you say is the major difference between Western and Japanese comedy?

YurikoKotani8 karma

Hello! Stand-up comedy wise, double act (called Manzai) is major in Japan. But we also have Rakugo which is story telling by one person, but sitting on stage, not stand up!

Alienturnedhuman4 karma

Having a Japanese girlfriend who mastered in translation between English and Japanese, I particularly enjoyed the nuance of the 1-ish joke as we had loads of discussion about "but we don't have this word in Japanese" when discussing her work. She also relates to all of the other jokes in your video,and we both loved it.

She's coming back to the UK for July and August, is there anywhere that we can come and see you during that time? Ideally in the East of England (Norwich would be ideal ;) )

Given the international attention gained by your video, are you considering expanding a more global platform for your comedy (ie YouTube etc) or will you concentrate on traditional stand up?

YurikoKotani6 karma

Thank you very much for your lovely words! Glad you and your girlfriend enjoyed my set! Norwich?! I was a support act of Rob Delaney's show at Norwich Playhouse in April! But I don't have gigs in that area at the moment. My website and gig list are coming soon so please keep an eye on my Twitter or Facebook page! I love comedy and I'd like to be able to do at any platform!

satomisumi4 karma

Did you study stand up comedy, or were you just naturally interested in it and doing your own material followed?

Despite I feel like there is very much of a difference between western and Japanese comic timing and delivery, you seem to definitely have delivery perfect!

YurikoKotani6 karma

Thank you very much for your lovely words! I wanted to write comedy and I didn't think if I ever be able to perform on stage (or speak in front of people!). So in my case, I gigged a lot and learnt by doing it!

Eskaminagaga3 karma

Why do Japanese people seem to have trouble grasping and finding humor in irony? Is it a language issue that doesn't translate very well or a culture thing that they simply don't deal with, so can't recognize very well?

YurikoKotani6 karma

In Japanese, we use irony as well but we don't use it in the same way as in English! I'm not a language expert but I think different languages have different ways of saying things. And yes, it took me a while to get used to humour in irony but now I enjoy using it!

utopian2383 karma

As a professional comedian, do your friends in your personal life still find you funny? Or do they roll their eyes and look at you like "Oh Yuriko, stop trying so hard you're not working right now!"

YurikoKotani6 karma

Hahaha! I hope they still find me funny.

OJPaper3 karma

Do you have any future shows lined up that we can grab tickets to?

YurikoKotani8 karma

Yes, I am performing at Glastonbury this Saturday and will be at Edinburgh Fringe for the whole month! (Comedy Reserve Pleasance at 9:30pm) And my website with gig list is coming soon so please keep an eye out!

OJPaper2 karma

Hope to see you closer to the south soon! Will keep an eye on your twitter. :)

YurikoKotani2 karma

Thank you very much!! Where about South do you live? I just performed in Brighton on Sunday and had a great time! Audience were so lovely. Hope I can play in south very soon!

guttblott3 karma

Hey Yuriko,

I was in the audience at the King Gong in London on the 25th of May 2015. I recognized you because I still remember you doing the ish bit back then. I was sitting in the 2nd row. I was one of the audience judges. I was the one that gave you the first red card that set off a chain reaction and got you gonged off. Later on after audience protest another comic gave up his time to bring you back on stage and you advanced to the final round. I did it because I thought I was "supposed" to after the first 10 seconds of silence and I was nervous about being a judge. I regretted my decision very very shorty after raising that card. The next day I went on stage at an open mic for the first time in my life and have been doing stand up comedy ever since. I've since told this story to a few people but never knew who you were til now.

How did that experience affect you? Do you think you gained anything from it? And most importantly, do you forgive me :D ?

YurikoKotani3 karma

I totally understand you! Atmosphere of King Gong bring the pressure not only on comics, but also on judges too, and I am sure you were nervous as well. Yes, I gained a lot from this experience. Most importantly, I cannot thank enough to Paul Duncan McGarrity who gave me his stage time even though there is no such a thing in King Gong's rule, and MC Jarred Christmas who made a decision that I can go back to stage again. I gained people's kindness, and I love comedy even more! Glad to hear you've been gigging! Hope to see you in the circuit!

estafets3 karma

I recently saw your stand up set about "-ish" not being translatable to Japanese. How often do you run into these language barriers? Also, thank you for the amazing comedy :)

YurikoKotani4 karma

Thank you for your lovely words! Yes, I had it many times. But I guess it's one of the fun bit to learn other language and culture!

someewhatdamaged2 karma

Do you prefer English tea or Japanese tea?

YurikoKotani3 karma

I like both! Three hours ago I was drinking English Breakfast tea with milk and right now I'm having genmai cha.

logos__2 karma

Hello Yuriko! I liked your joke about forgiving the poster. Would you ever consider doing British panel shows?

YurikoKotani3 karma

Thank you very much! Yes, I'd love to do British panel shows.

windseeker2422 karma

Hello Yuriko! Are you going to make your own videos or a youtube channel? Are you planning to climb the comedy ladder via the club scene or unconventional means such as social media and youtube?

We are laughing in Bahamas! Very funny! Hope to see more!

YurikoKotani3 karma

Hello! Thank you for watching from Bahamas! I love comedy and I'd like to be able to do at any place (comedy clubs, social media and youtube, TV, my mum's kitchen...) - I want everyone to enjoy and be happy!

vokame2 karma

What are your views on dark comedy? Did you ever consider doing it?

YurikoKotani6 karma

I love dark British comedy. Very very much. The League of Gentlemen is fantastic, Chris Morris is phenomenal - the first time when I watched them, I just couldn't believe my eyes. Yes I'd love to do dark comedy one day.

Xertico2 karma

Wait, were you on the radio once? I think I heard you! (uk, btw).

YurikoKotani2 karma

Wow, did you heard me?! Yes, I was on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4 Extra in the past!

dz132 karma

Where can we watch more of your stand-up? I found your ish video hilarious and searched for about half an hour trying to find more of you, but failed.

YurikoKotani5 karma

Thank you so much for such nice words! And I'm sorry that you spent time for this. I'm afraid there is no videos online at the moment. But hopefully I can put more online in the near future! (Or come and perform in your area!)

ComMJG2 karma

What advice would you give to new comedians currently trying to break into the UK circuit?

YurikoKotani2 karma

I'm still new so I think my advice doesn't count but with my little knowledge, write what you believe in and try on stage! Then keep rewriting and gigging. I think this is the only way to get better!

PowellCecilia1 karma

What are your views on dark comedy? Did you ever consider doing it?

YurikoKotani1 karma

I love dark comedy, especially dark British comedies. League of Gentlemen is fantastic, Chris Morris is phenomenal... There are so many! Yes, I'd love to do it one day.

c2oh_fiend1 karma

Do you usually write in Japanese or English?

YurikoKotani4 karma

I write in both! So my notebook is in a mess!

azarrazor1 karma

Did you plan to be a stand up comedian from a young age? Was there people who tried to say it's ridiculous to try doing so?

YurikoKotani1 karma

No, I've never thought that I become a stand-up comedian!

DuckWithATie1 karma

What has been your best and your craziest gig?

YurikoKotani4 karma

I think one of my best and craziest gig was at a show called King Gong at London Comedy Store! You get gonged off if audience think you are not funny and you have to manage to do your five minutes set. You get heckled and it is very brutal but if you can make it to the final, the feeling is rewarding.

Confusing_posts1 karma

On a scale of 1 - 10, what is your favorite color?

YurikoKotani3 karma

I like all the colours, equally.

Synchronauto1 karma

Do you have any of your performances in Japanese on YouTube?

YurikoKotani2 karma

No, I've never performed in Japanese yet. But I'd like to do it in the future!

NameThatsIt1 karma

Is it hard to make material for comedy?

YurikoKotani2 karma

Yes, it is a hard work. But I love creating process. And when I make audience laugh, I feel like I'm the happiest person in the whole world!

genericthrowawayyes1 karma

Do you ever write a joke, find it funny, then look at it again and again to make sure it's funny and eventually find it unfunny? As a person who struggles socially, I often find times where I want to chip in to a conversation, so to not make a fool of myself I think before I speak, but when I do I go over it again and again because I don't want to make a fool of myself and it eventually I either get too worked up or its been too long a time period to bring up my point. Do you have any advise on this?

YurikoKotani1 karma

Yes, it happens to me too. And I think it is not a bad thing at all! To trust people in the conversation might be a good way. Just throw it and see how it goes! Sometimes it's funny, and sometimes not funny - and this is natural!