Cheap laughs from bumbling comedians and the YouTube zoo; CM of the week: Toto

The simple premise of the sports variety show “Hono no Taikukai” (“Blazing Athletics Club”; TBS, Mon., 7 p.m.) is to have groups of male comedians compete against solo female athletes in the latter’s sport of expertise. The idea is that it takes several bumbling comedians to defeat one trained woman, though, of course, they never do.

This week, however, only one funnyman, Masumi Yagi of the comedy group Savannah, will take on Amanda Lucas, the daughter of “Star Wars” impresario George, in a martial arts bout. Amanda is an expert in a certain style of Brazilian fighting, but Yagi has 20 years of experience in various martial arts, including judo. Amanda’s dad is promised as a “special guest.”

Also, several comedians will race a 14-year-old “fin swimming” prodigy and several others will try to outrun another junior high school girl in the hurdles.

When TV stations have nothing to show and no money to show it, they increasingly turn to YouTube for material, in particular videos showing animals doing funny things. “Shijo Saidai no TV Dobutsuen” (“The Biggest TV Zoo in History”; Fuji, Wed., 7 p.m.) shows the same animal videos you’ve seen a million times already but also offers a few original ones, all involving animals from zoos throughout Japan.

In one video, a comedian records himself trying to get as close as possible to various zoo animals by offering them food. In another segment, comedians in the studio place bets on “animal competitions” involving red pandas, sea lions and other furry creatures.

CM of the week

Toto: The full-bodied female comedy trio Mori Sanchu was a hit last year in a series of commercials for Big, an offshoot game of the Toto soccer lottery. They did a takeoff on the manga series “Cat’s Eye” about three cat burglars.

In the latest series they parody various pop groups, including Morning Musume with a version of their hit “Love Machine.” Dressed in matching floor-length, fur-lined, silver lamé coats, the three comediennes are multiplied by a factor of eight with computer graphics and then set loose in public places throughout Japan. The lyrics of the song have been tweaked to advertise the fact that the current jackpot for the game is as high as ¥600 million, and that “Big isn’t small,” in case the visuals didn’t make that clear enough.