After his show Japanese Locky found success last year, Hiroshi Shimuzu is back with another instalment of his unique take on comedy – full of laughs, quirks, strange cultural observations, and of course a highly self-deprecating version of life from a Japanese point of view. This is actually a revival of a show from 2012, but there are a lot of similarities to Locky, with its disappointed ghosts, multi-cultural zombie parade and punctual post-apocalyptic robot. This time he’s also thrown in some current affairs in Japan, and more general cultural craziness.
The self-proclaimed “sweatiest man at the festival” is performing in probably one of the hottest rooms available, and it’s no mean feat under these sweltering conditions to get the audience on your side – especially in your second language. But Shimuzu handles it well, at one point having everyone singing along to Japanese hip hop. This despite the way he turns to the audience every now and again and tells everyone to “f*** off”, which is frankly just hilarious.
As we’ve come to expect, there’s a real mix of brilliantly-skewed ideas bordering on bonkers, but in this show it’s punctuated by Hiroshi’s disdain for his own country’s “peace-keeping constitution” and overly polite attitude to everything. We get to see a host of impressions centred on the idea that Japan ruled the world, from Japanese Martin Luther King Jr to Japanese Columbus. The fantastic film trailers are back, from the new Godzilla film (in a “more realistic” Japanese style) to Japanese Super Mario and Superman (“Let’s have a meeting”).
Towards the end Shimuzu is virtually melting live on stage, and the high energy he maintains from the start is an accomplishment in itself. The pace never dips and he never loses the audience, perhaps because they’re mostly sitting wondering whether this is all for real. It’s crazy, surreal stuff, though if you did see his show last year you’ll find you already know a lot of the material.
Deep down, you’re probably expecting a comedy show by a Japanese man in an orange tracksuit to be a bit bonkers, and it’s every bit as eccentric as it is billed. Shimuzu is a man worth seeing – in his own words in the style of the Japanese Terminatol – “maybe, if you don’t mind.”