Probably the biggest paradox of stand-up comedy is that while there are no schools of humor — no Bachelor of Laughs degree, not even a “funny” skill on Linkedin to endorse your friend for — stand-up comedians are out there in good numbers. Even in Tokyo, where speaking English can be a struggle, English-language stand-up is finding an audience.
The Tokyo expat comedy scene has grown from an occasional show here and there to a full-scale entity with workshops, open mic events for everyone who wants to try and regular showcases with international headliners. Many comics told their first jokes in Japan’s capital and advanced from being open-mic performers to traveling comedians. But, most importantly, they still make Tokyo laugh every day. Here’s a quick who’s who of some of the local scene’s key players.