JLC: Turning Japanese

Thursday 3 February, 9:00pm on Five

This hilarious three-part documentary series follows Justin Lee Collins as he heads east and attempts to get to grips with Japanese culture. In this week’s instalment, Justin finds out how the famously hard-working Japanese spend their leisure time. From Japan’s comedy capital, Justin tries to launch a stand-up career, sharpens his samurai skills and befriends a monkey waitress. After a week in Tokyo, Justin heads south to Osaka, Japan’s funky capital of comedy. Osaka is the home of manzai, a traditional form of stand-up comedy. Comedians pair up and perform dizzying routines that combine broad slapstick with rapid-fire delivery. Determined to master the art of manzai, Justin joins local actor and fellow novice Yujiro. Justin and Yujiro attend a comedy night in which several duos perform short sketches and the audience members vote for their favourite acts. After the show, Justin and Yujiro meet the winning pair, who reveal some champion manzai secrets. “You should shave,” one of them tells Justin. “Japanese audiences prefer clean people.” In dire need of mentorship, Justin and Yujiro turn to Zenjiro, master of manzai. Despite his reservations, the comedy veteran helps the new double act take shape. Justin learns some essential Osaka slang and the pair get a crash course in slapstick violence. They settle on Fish and Chips as a stage name for their international act and are soon ready to hit the streets. At a bustling shopping centre, Justin and Yujiro round up a small crowd to show off their new-found manzai prowess. One stranger criticises their timing, while another brands Justin ‘scary’. Undeterred, the pair head to a novelty costume shop to buy Justin a charming outfit involving a gold lam� thong… Taking a break from rehearsal, Justin visits the Edo Wonderland theme park. Translator Mai explains that the Edo period was noted for its tranquillity and peace, and Edo Wonderland recreates that experience. Unlike the noise and excitement of British theme parks, this small patch of 17thcentury Japan is a calm haven. But there is still plenty to see and do. After watching a ninja display, Justin dons a samurai costume and sharpens his skills as a swordsman and horse rider.

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