Local improv comedians keep things fast, furious and funny
By David Labi
TV changed Kenichi Tada’s life. Well, more like one particular show. The life insurance salesman was on a trip to the States when he caught an episode of improvisational comedy program “Whose Line is it Anyway?” When he returned to Tokyo, he ditched the suit and set about liberating his inner performer.
“In Japanese culture, people are so afraid of making mistakes that the idea of performing without a script terrifies them,” he explains. A “very accepting and supportive” workshop helped him overcome his own fears, and he now regularly performs with the Xpot improv group. Along the way, he quit the day job for a full-time career under the lights.
Was his family worried about such a radical move? “They’re still worried,” he sighs.
Tada is one of a small but growing community of improvisers in the capital, both Japanese and foreign. At the upcoming Tokyo Impro Festival, which he helped organize, 80 local performers will be doing their thing in both English and Japanese, alongside visitors from Los Angeles, Boston and Seoul. The main aim of the event, he says, is to reach out to a Japanese audience unaccustomed to on-the-fly hilarity, showing them that not everything in life must be scripted and prescribed. Simply put, it’s to “encourage people to experience improvisation for the first time.”Read More