This page describes words and terms (generally of Japanese
origin) relating to
Many of these terms may be used in areas of Japanese culture
outside comedy, including
, or some may even be
used in normal Japanese speech.
- 番組 (bangumi). The Japanese word for show.
- ボケ (boke [boh-keh or boh-kay]).
From the verb bokeru 惚ける or 呆ける,
which carries the meaning of "senility" or "air
headed-ness," and is reflected in this performer's tendency for
misinterpretation and forgetfulness. The
boke is the member of an owarai kombi
boke", or vice versa) that receives most of
the verbal and physical abuse from the tsukkomi because of the boke's misunderstandings
and slip-ups. The tsukkomi (突っ込み)
refers to the role the second comedian plays in "butting
in" and correcting the boke's errors. It is common for
tsukkomi to berate boke and hit them on the head with a swift
- * OUTSIDE OF OWARAI: In common speech "boke" is
sometimes used as an insult, similar to "idiot" in English, or
baka in Japanese, though less insulting;
however, the roles of tsukkomi and boke are often adopted
temporarily among friends in daily life for enjoyment.
It is, of course, insulting not to
acknowledge that your friend has adopted the boke role by adopting
the tsukkomi role–thereby implying your friend is not playing the
boke, but actually stupid.
- * OTHER JAPANESE MEANINGS OF THE ANGLICIZED SPELLING "BOKE": Boke or bokeh—blur in photography,
AND, Boke—flowering Japanese
- * FOR NON-JAPANESE "BOKE," see Boke.
- コント (konto). From the French word conte, konto
refers to the style of manzai or owarai performance focusing on telling interesting
tales, many of which, one must assume, are made up for the sake of
humour. Also often called manzai
konto (漫才コント). Short conte (ショートコント) are skits often less than
30 seconds long where the comedians act out some sort of odd
encounter or conversation.
- コーナー (kōnā). Rarely taking the literal English meaning
of the word "corner" as in "street corner" or "corner of a shape",
this word is usually used in Japanese to mean "segment", as in
- ダジャレ (dajare). A type of Japanese pun or word play in which the
similarities in sound of two different words or phrases are used in
- ドッキリ (dokkiri). Recently popularized in the west by
shows such as Punk'd, these hidden-camera
surprise pranks are very common on Japanese television. Traps such
as pitfalls, falling objects, and seductive idols are often
- ギャグ (gyagu). The same as the English word
gag, gyagu are generally cheap jokes (though the
word often describes any joke) employed by a geinin in their act. Gyagu tend to be
short, physical, and often predictable. American English speakers
might say "a corny joke".
- 芸人 (geinin). Gei means "performance" or
"accomplishment", and the word geinin is often translated
as "artisan". The un-abbreviated form of the word is 芸能人
(geinōjin), which means "performer" or "entertainer", but
it is usually used in a context similar to the English "celebrity".
Japanese comedians are usually called お笑い芸人 (owarai
geinin, comedy performers) or お笑いタレント (owarai
tarento, comedy talents) and talents that appear on television
variety shows are usually called
芸能人タレント (geinōjin tarento, performing talents) or
sometimes 若手芸人 (wakate geinin, young/newcomer talents) for
newer additions to the talent pool. A ピン芸人 (pin geinin) is
a solo stand-up performer.
- キレ or 切れ (kire). A casual word for "anger" (similar to
"pissed" or "ticked"), the キレ役 (kireyaku) is a role
sometimes taken by owarai geinin who have very short tempers, or pretend to.
Cunning's Takeyama is well known for his short
temper; his kire is his defining feature. Also, 逆ギレ
(gyaku gire) is the act of getting angry at
someone/something in reverse. For example: A girl cheats on her
boyfriend, but then gets angry at her boyfriend when he finds out
insisting that it was his fault; a man trips on a rock while
walking and swears at the rock, throwing it into the woods. This is
a very common role in owarai and manzai performances.
- コンビ (kombi). An abbreviation of the English word
"combination". Usually refers to the "combination" of two Japanese
owarai talents to form a comedy unit.
- コント (konto). See conte.
- ルミネ (rumine). Short for "Lumine the Yoshimoto"
(ルミネtheよしもと), ルミネ is a stage (劇場, gekijō) in Shinjuku's LUMINE2 building, exclusively for
owarai performances. It has considerable
prestige as only the best performers in Japan ever get a chance to
appear on this stage in front of a mere 500 live spectators.
- 万歳, 万才, or (currently) 漫才 (manzai). A more traditional
style of Japanese comedy.
- モノマネ or 物真似 (monomane). Usually impressions of other famous Japanese people,
monomane is very common in Japan and some talents have
even made a career out of their monomane skills. Some
geinin famous for their monomane
are Hori and Gu-ssan.
- お笑い (owarai). A general term for modern Japanese
- ネタ (neta). Reverse spelling of the word tane
(種), meaning "seed" or "pit". A neta is the background
pretense of a konto skit, though it is sometimes used to refer to
the contents of a segment of
an owarai act, a variety show, or a news broadcast. Warai Meshi
almost won the 2004 M-1 Gran Prix by doing several acts on a neta
about the somewhat poorly built human models in the Asuka Historical Museum in Nara. The
neta of variety shows hosted by London Boots Ichigo Nigo almost
always have to do with cheating girlfriends and boyfriends. See
- ピン芸人 (pin geinin). See geinin.
- 下ネタ (shimoneta). Shimoneta is the combination
of the characters shimo, meaning "low" or "down", and
neta. A shimoneta is a dirty joke,
usually focusing on sexual or revolting topics. Some geinin are famous for their shimoneta, such
as Beat Takeshi with his Comaneci gag, where the hands are thrust
diagonally like the bottoms of a gymnast's one-piece.
- シュール (shūru). From the French word surréalisme, sur (sometimes romanized shule) is comedy with no
apparent reason or logic to it. Sur itself is not very
common, or popular, though many Japanese comedians are known to try
out sur on occasion in their acts. Sur exploits
the natural, uncomfortable feeling that occurs when people are
confused and don't know how they are supposed to react to a
meaningless or unexpected joke or comment, and so they just laugh.
Sur may be compared to some of the
unusual humor of the late America comedian
Andy Kaufman. Strictly
sur kombi do exist, but it is
extremely hard for sur performers to become popular.
- 突っ込み (tsukkomi). From the verb tsukkomu
(突っ込む), meaning something like "butt in", this is often the role of
the partner to the boke in an owarai kombi. The
tsukkomi is generally the smarter and more reasonable of
the unit, and will criticize, verbally and physically abuse, and
generally rail at the boke for their mistakes and
exaggerations. A typical tsukkomi often slaps the
boke on the back of the head, an action always accompanied
by an intentionally cheesy slapping sound
effect. It is common for tsukkomi in manzai to end an act with the phrase, "Let's quit!"
- うんちく or 蘊蓄 (unchiku). Literally a person's "stock of
accumulated knowledge", unchiku usually refers to the act
of complaining about something while teaching a lesson to an often
uninterested audience. Cream Stew's
Ueda is known for unchiku and
his long-winded philosophical sermons are
part of his comedic arsenal.
- 売れてる (ureteru). From the verb uru (売る),
literally meaning "to sell", ureteru is often used in
conversation referring to a performer's ability to sell their act
(or themselves), and gives a little insight into the way many
Japanese comedians think. An ureteru performer gets many
more variety appearances, commercials, and pay from their agency
than an uretenai (unable to sell) performer, and many
performers determined to succeed will stop at almost nothing to
promote themselves, and get "selling".
- バラエティ番組 (baraeti bangumi). Though essentially
identical to the concept of variety
show in English, variety shows in Japan are much more popular
and come in many different styles, often venturing far from the
average Western idea of a variety show. Waratte wa Iitomo! and Gaki no Tsukai are
among the longest running variety shows still on air today.