Tokyo Comedy Store

by Kevin R Burns
(Tokyo, Japan)

The Tokyo Comedy Store was founded in 1994 as the "Tokyo Comedy Club" by myself. I gathered together stand up comics and even a hypnotist named Tony Padget, by placing many ads in the "Tokyo Classifieds," calling for performers. This was detailed in an article in the Mainichi Daily News.

I produced and performed in the first two shows.The first show was held at the Tokyo American Club and, the second at the British Club in Ebisu, Tokyo. I gave up control of the club to one of the performers named Nic Abrahms. He subsequently changed the name to the "Tokyo Comedy Store."

There were some problems with the changing of the guard but I won`t go into them here.

Chris Wells, Nic Abrahms, a Canadian from Vancouver, and a few others performed an improv act called, "The Stunning Mullets."

Michael Naishtutt too taught us improv comedy at workshops at various locations in Tokyo. One night we put on a small improv show in a venue in Tokyo. Improv was always tough for me.

Over the years, the Tokyo Comedy Store has grown to become a regular show in central Tokyo. They perform in Roppongi, Harajuku and Shibuya. It is currently run by Chris Wells and performances are held at the Crocodile live-house in Shibuya on the fourth Friday of every month, attracting audiences of around 100 people, the vast majority being non-Japanese.

Some Tokyo Comedy Store History

One of the great things about being an expatriate in Japan is that there are so many unique opportunities for us here. If you are willing to take the time to go to the audition or job interview, you have a shot at many interesting jobs. As well, if there is something you want to do, but this organization or club doesn`t yet exist, if you start it, they will come.So often there are others like you, waiting for someone to start a club or group they are interested in.

I have lived here a long time, I`m a good organizer, so I have started many groups over the years. One of them was the Tokyo Comedy Club, which is now known as The "Tokyo Comedy Store." I still have a little pride in knowing that I started the whole thing! Maybe someone would have done it eventually, but I did it!

Many years ago now, I decided that I wanted to perform stand-up comedy again (foolish lad). I had performed on CBC radio, and at UBC (where I majored in Theatre), Punchlines and Yuk Yuks in Vancouver. I had even performed Improv comedy at the University du Quebec in French! That was an interesting experience.

So I sat in my apartment pondering the possibility of starting some kind of amateur club that performed comedy in Tokyo. The Tokyo Comedy Club was born when I decided to stop thinking about it and put out some ads in the forerunner of Metropolis, The Tokyo Classifieds. I eventually attracted a group of about 15 performers, most of them stand-up comics, a few improv performers and even a hypnotist named Tony Padget. Many people Emailed me to tell me they wanted to come to the show.

I was interviewed by the Mainichi Daily News about what kind of crazy person would want to stand up all by himself, in front of a large crowd, and try to get them to laugh. I think you have to be a touch crazy to do it.

Our first show was to a full house at the Tokyo American Club. The next show was to an even more raucouscrowd at the Tokyo British Club. We also put on an improv comedy show one night.

I haven`t performed for the Comedy Store in years but still have fond memories of stand up comedy. I also have nightmares too!

The Comedy Shows Today

The Tokyo Comedy Store performs in central Tokyo, and features stand-up comedians and improv comedy. Check out the Tokyo Comedy Store Schedule. Were it up to me, All Japanese textbooks would have to have the truthful version of history in it.

Things like:

"We were politely invited by the Chinese to have Oolong Tea in Nanking," will be taken out and changed. As well versions of what happened at the River Kwai will be changed from:

"We gave jobs to unemployed Britons and built a fantastic overland railway in Thailand," to a version that gives a clearer picture of what Japan did in Asia (or should I say - to Asia?)

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