2017/03/20 Japanese Comedians and Begging the Question

What is a comedian? What is Owarai-Geinin? Debates about these issues are hot these days.

There is a brain scientist called Mogi Kenichiro who criticized Japanese comedians for their ways of getting a laugh. He said they don't dare to make fun of those in authority, which comedians must engage in. He seems to believe that this way of getting a laugh is an essential part of being a comedian. That is, those who don't dare this cannot be regarded as one.

As can be expected, many Owarai-Geinins in Japan responded to him. I read some of the responses and they can be summerized as follow: it is not that Japanese comedians don't have the courage to make fun of authority, but that they know there are many other ways of being funny and that some of them are better than mocking a person in authority.

What is at stake is what makes a comedian. What is the essence of being a comedian?

The brain scientist states that being a comedian consists in making fun of authority and getting a laugh by doing so. On the other hand, the Japanese comedians seem to believe that it lies in getting a laugh. They think it doesn't matter how you do it. Therefore, they should be discussing which difinition is right. But they are just throwing their opinions at each other, based on their assumption. This fallacy is called "begging the question." You commit it when you found your argument on the very thing that is at stake and should be discussed.


I propose that comedians and Owarai-Geinins be discerned apart. The essence of the former may be looking down on those in authority, but it doesn't necessarily have to be applied to the latter. Japanese "Gei" has a different history and character from those of the occidental counterpart. Nobody has the right to convert Owarai-Geinins in Japan into comedians oveseas.