More Rakugo!

As some of you – especially those who stalk whatsupinkyoto on facebook – may have guessed from my weekend post, I went to a rakugo performance on Sunday! An English one, just to be sure, but it didn’t make much difference in the performance, I think.

It was definitely not what I had expected! I thought it would be something like stand-up comedy, with the jokes and punch lines coming fast and furious. They weren’t. Although all of the stories were funny, some of them were pretty long, and for my taste, a bit drawn out too much. Especially when you got the idea the first time around, there is not much point in telling a variant 10 seconds later…

Anyway, I loved the rakugoka, some of them were really good with their posture changes and facial expressions, which are the main points to make rakugo entertaining. Altogether, I spent an enjoyable afternoon, even though my expectations were not met. Oh well, I just learned something new, that’s always worth it!

By the way, the group “Laugh-Laugh-Tei” that did the performance, consists of a number of people from Kyoto who use rakugo as a way of improving their English, which in itself I find funny. One of them, Kimochi, cites this as the only reason why he started to perform English rakugo. He appears to be quite ambitious, actually, and is actively trying to bring rakugo to a Western audience. And, if today you are at or nearby Michigan State University, you can watch Kimochi giving an English rakugo performance tonight, November 14, from 18:30 in the RCAH Auditorium.

And if you’re not, just watch him here:

2 thoughts on “More Rakugo!

  1. Rakugo is an old form of entertainment. I would compare it to older literature. Les Mis, Count of MC, etc. would never be published today the way they were back then. People didn’t have access to so much diversity for entertaining themselves, they wanted the ones they had to last – for a long, long time. Which is why I think, storytelling (be it books or rakugo or …) was much slower back in the day. And as far as I know rakugo still uses the same old stories, right? 🙂

    • That’s a good point, actually! I didn’t see it like that.
      Yes, the “canon” of rakugo stories is all very old and traditional, as I wrote on Sunday. There are new performers who write their own stories, but I think that’s the exception.

      In this English performance, they said that they translated some of those old stories. I also had the impression that I knew one or two of the very short ones, meaning that they were of Western origin – but then again, I am reading everything with letters on it, so even they may have been ancient Japanese ones.

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