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Friday, Sept. 19, 2008

Tokyo Comedy Store ups the laugh factor


By ERIKA WISEBERG

Live comedy about the absurdities of living in Japan and off-the-wall improvisation are showcased every month by the English- language performance troupe Tokyo Comedy Store.

News photo
Say something funny: Cloudy Bongwater, a familiar face at the Tokyo Comedy Store, takes the stage at the music club Crocodile. CHRIS WELLS PHOTO

With years of professional experience among them, the standup comedians and improvisation members of TCS are adept at providing the biting social and political commentary and sarcasm that are so prevalent in Western comedy but largely absent here.

Some people may have doubts about the English comedy scene in Japan, but as Chris Wells, head of their improvisation group, Spontaneous Confusion, reassures: "We're funnier than you think we'll be."

The packed crowds at their monthly show certainly attest to their popularity. The first act typically features comedy from some of the best standups in Tokyo, while the second act features a performance by Spontaneous Confusion, Tokyo's foremost improvisation group.

Audience participation is actively sought as the group skillfully creates unprompted and side-splitting scenes, songs and musicals based on suggestions from the audience. They will often invite an adventurous audience member onto the stage to join in the fun.

Next week, the group will host a special Wednesday night performance, while an even bigger show is being planned for November to celebrate their 14th anniversary.

Tokyo Comedy Store's monthly show is normally held on the fourth Friday of every month at the music club Crocodile in Jingumae, Shibuya Ward. This month, however, the Crocodile show is being moved up to Sept. 24. The show starts at 8 p.m. and runs until 10:30 p.m. Admission is ¥2,000, plus a compulsory one-drink purchase.

Tokyo Comedy Store's comedians also put on shows at The Baron in Nishi-Azabu under the name Tokyo Cynics. These shows normally do not involve an admission fee, but provide a laughter-filled hour of straight-up standup comedy. The next Tokyo Cynics' show is on Oct. 10. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m.

For more information, visit the TCS Web site at www.tokyocomedy.com



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