Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

Second City in Japan Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Osaka

Posted in Current Events by bourdaghs on the February 16th, 2012

The Chicago Tribune is reporting this morning that Second City, Chicago’s legendary comedy improv theater (originally founded by University of Chicago students back in the day), has signed an agreement with Yoshimoto Kogyo, one of Japan’s oldest and largest entertainment management firms (whose origins, incidentally, are in Osaka), to open an improv school and theater in Tokyo.

According to Aki Yorihiro, the CEO of Yoshimoto Kogyo’s U.S. operations, the time is ripe for such a move. “We have very strong comedy schools in Tokyo and Osaka,” Yorihiro said, “but the style of comedy is our own style. There is no improv-based training in Japan.”

The new partnership is being worked out in phases, beginning with the school this summer. Yorihiro said that the whole notion of Second City will be introduced to the Japanese public by a TV documentary, to be filmed in Chicago this spring. By the fall, he said, the goal is to have the professional company in place, followed by a permanent resident show in Tokyo.

Will manzai survive the challenge of the improv Black Ships? Next thing you know, there’ll be a McDonald’s and a Starbucks on every corner in Japan.

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