Downtown no Gottsu Ee Kanji (ダウンタウンのごっつええ感じ) was a Japanese television show that ran in the 1990s; hosted by and starring the comedy duo Downtown, Masatoshi Hamada (浜田 雅功) and Hitoshi Matsumoto (松本 人志). It was a variety show that featured interviews, games, and comedy sketches. It is those sketches that are still remembered long after the show went off the air and I’ve found a few to share.
When Gottsu ee Kanji went off the air it was an end of sorts for Downtown’s sketch comedy. They still do some sketch-like things on their long running show Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!, but their proper sketch comedy work ended with Gottsu ee Kanji.
A little over a year ago a special was aired in Japan on Matsumoto in which cameras followed him around for a few weeks to get an inside look at his life. The show leads up to Matsumoto performing a comedy sketch, something he hadn’t done in a long time, and remarking that it’s something he misses performing. It’s a nice and interesting watch and if you’re so inclined a subtitled copy of the special can be had over at Gaki Files.
One reoccurring character on Gottsu ee Kanji was a sea monster played by Matsumoto. The sea monster constantly interrupts a young couple by laying her (his?) eggs. It’s a comedy piece that is disgusting, surreal, and touches on so many different levels that the end result is uncontrolled laughter. It’s a joy to watch, but my perceptions are not always shared with the more “normal” people out there. Last week I introduced this comedy sketch to my friends via a compilation video that stitched together seven sea monster sketches. It’s about thirty minutes long, but definitely worth the time.
The reaction from my friends (well, at least some of them) seemed to share in my enthusiasm and joy.
Another sketch series from Gottsu ee Kanji is something I’ve only seen referred to as “the friendly ghost”. The sketch is Hamada playing an older business man (the Japanese call them “salary men”) arriving at his hotel for the evening. The innkeeper shows him to his room and, as he leaves, warns Hamada that the room is haunted. A ghost, played by Matsumoto, then appears and encourages Hamada to play games with him. If Hamada is unable to complete the challenge then the ghost collapses in front of the camera with a face full of deep disappointment while the room’s lights do dark and dramatic music stings from the background.
An alternative is to download them from here.
There are a few more “friendly ghost” sketches out there, but I’ll leave tracking them down as an exercise for you the reader.
What thrills me about Downtown’s sketch comedy is the (apparent) loose nature of the filming process. You’ll hear the crew laughing in the background and you’ll even see Hamada and Matsumoto react with smiles and laughter at the ridiculousness of their own sketches. It makes the sketches feel more real; more human. They’re actors, but they’re also real people and even they recognize and enjoy the silliness of the proceedings. It adds a certain dimension that western comedy tends to suffocate and relegate to gag reels on DVDs or during the closing credits. Pulling back the curtain is something I find quite compelling and one of the main reasons why I will willingly return to the Oz that is Japanese television.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.