Home Podcasts Japan Station Behind the Yoshimoto Curtain: A Chat w. Comedian Stephen Tetsu | Japan Station 49

Behind the Yoshimoto Curtain: A Chat w. Comedian Stephen Tetsu | Japan Station 49

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On This Episode of Japan Station

On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, we’re joined by Stephen Tetsu to discuss the Japanese comedy & entertainment industry, as well as his life as a comedian in the largest talent agency in Japan: Yoshimoto Kōgyō.

About Stephen Tetsu

Stephen Tetsu is an owarai geinin (comedian) who is part of Yoshimoto Kōgyō, the largest talent agency in Japan. Aside from performing manzai as part of his group Iruka Punch, Stephen has also worked on numerous projects for Yoshimoto, including translation and producing shows. Stephen produces and co-hosts the podcasts Small in Japan and Japanese History Junk Food.

Topics Discussed

  • The Netflix documentary What’s Manzai?!!! and how Stephen got involved with it
  • How it was that Stephen got into the comedy industry in Japan
  • Stephen’s life in comedy school in Japan
  • The difficult life of a “young” comedian in Japan
  • The challenge of finding the right comedy partner
  • The good and bad of being a foreigner in the Japanese comedy industry
  • The 2019 Yoshimoto scandal which involved comedians receiving under-the-table payments for performances they did for organized crime groups
  • What manzai is
  • The evolving nature of manzai
  • How many Japanese comedians have been pushed to start producing content for YouTube due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic
  • Takeshi Kitano’s transition from comedian to movie director
  • Comparing Japanese comedians to Western comedians
  • What Stephen has enjoyed about being a comedian in Japan
  • The frustration that comes with playing the stereotypical dumb foreigner character
  • And much more!

Listen to Japan Station on

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Support on Patreon

If you enjoy Japan Station and want to ensure that we’re able to produce more episodes, then please consider becoming a patron on Patreon.com. For a minimum pledge of $1 a month you’ll get early access to all JapanKyo podcasts, bonus content, and more. And for $3 a month, you’ll get access to Japanese Plus Alpha, a podcast produced by me (Tony Vega) that focuses on the Japanese language and all of its fascinating quirks. Also, all pledges get a shout-out on the show and my undying gratitude. Thank you in advance!

Links, Videos, Etc.

To listen to the Small in Japan podcast use the links below or look it up on your podcast app of choice.

To listen to the Japanese History Junk Food podcast use the links below or look it up on your podcast app of choice.

Check out Stephen’s blog via the link below.

Follow Stephen Tetsu on Twitter.

To read Stephen’s article about manzai, check out the link below.

This is a video of a routine by Kaminari, the very aggressive manzai duo that was mentioned in this episode.

The comedian Tonikaku Akarui Yasumura was brought up in this episode when we were discussing ippatsuya (one hit wonder) comedians. If you’re not familiar with him, check out the video below in which he performs his signature “gag” in English.

To learn more about the massive yamieigyō scandal that rocked Yoshimoto in 2019, you may want to check out the article below.

To listen to episode two of Japan Station, use the link below.

To listen to the latest episode of Ichimon Japan, use the link below.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi)
To listen to more of Yunomi’s music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Stephen Tetsu

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Full Show Notes


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