By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
It’s not often that a comedian brings drawings of a Japanese toilet seat on stage. But Kaori Takamura has a fearless brand of comedy.
Kaori, as she is known on stage, has been entertaining comedy crowds for five years and is making inroads into the United States. Takamura was a recent participant at the 35th Annual Seattle International Comedy Competition in November. Described as the “Cool Japan” comedian, Kaori prides herself as the only Japanese female and bilingual stand-up comedian in Japan. She can perform on stage in either Japanese or English.
Her biggest break in the United States came this year when she performed in Washington D.C. at one of the biggest Japanese festivals in the United States, “Sakura Matsuri.”
Kaori first found comedy while performing in a comedy trio five years ago. She was fond of Japanese comedian Noritake Kinashi since childhood and decided to give it a try. As for American inspirations, she is fond of Sammy Davis, Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, and Will Smith.
“To be honest, I was terrible in the trio,” admitted Kaori. She was offered to open for the trio on her own prior to their performance. “I was extremely nervous, but made it,” recounted Kaori of her first solo performance. “The owner of the club liked me and the leader (of the trio) told me that I had an aura of a comedian.” Kaori decided to start her solo career then and there.
Kaori’s comedy is based on “Cool Japan,” hence the nickname. Most of what she talks about on stage relates to trendy Japanese culture and lifestyle. Aside from the quirkiness of Japanese toilets, she also pokes fun at anime and Japanese television.
While she talks about “Cool Japan” on stage, her parents were not so thrilled with her career choice. “My parents hate comedy. It’s true,” she added, “I went to nice schools in Japan and my parents still don’t admit that I do comedy.” However, her friends are big fans. “My friends have known that I admired Noritake Kinashi since a very long time, so they cwheered me on so much and like my comedy.”
Despite her parents’ objections, Kaori likes her job. “I was born to be a comedian.” Kaori stated that she has struggled being a comedian, but remains positive about what she does. “The stage is an invaluable place where I can connect people with happy feelings.”
Kaori has aspirations of moving to the United States to extend her comedy career. She travels several times a year and books shows through her agent. Like most comedians, she also goes on auditions, participates in comedy competitions, and participates in festivals.
As for U.S. hecklers, Kaori jokes that she doesn’t understand English, so she asks them to write down what they are shouting on her memo pad.
In addition to her comedy, she also is an emcee at expos and parties. She is on a television show on Malaysian and Japanese TV, entitled “Welcome to the Rail World.” ■
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.