I watched a Rakugo performance by Tatekawa Shinoharu (立川志の春) this evening at the school and boy, I was laughing till tears came out of my eyes for an hour. It is quite astounding that the art of story-telling with over 400 years of Japanese history could be so entertaining. When asked about how his apprenticeship was like, Tatekawa san likened it to the Jedi in Star Wars, only that his master, Tatekawa Shinosuke, resembled more of Darth Vader.
Apparently, this is not the first time Rakugo is performed in English. In Japan and the US, there are a number of Rakugo masters who successfully tickled English-speaking audiences. One of them is the late Katsura Shijaku who broke the language barrier in 1983 for non-Japanese speaking audiences in the US to enjoy this art form. There is also Katsura Kaishi who travelled the whole of US with his family in a caravan, splitting sides of every audience he performed for. Do not watch with a full stomach. You’ve been warned.