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He’s lived in Japan for four years but has only been an entertainer for two months. Even so, this guy already has Japanese celebrities roaring with laughter.

Meet Atsugiri Jason (厚切りジェイソン), whose stage name translates to something like “Thickly-sliced Jason.” This up-and-coming comedic genius was recently featured on a Japanese TV New Year’s special, where he performed a short sketch entirely in Japanese which proved to be so popular that the internet is already buzzing about him making his big break this year.

Anyone who has ever struggled with learning kanji is sure to appreciate this video. Check out his comedy sketch after the jump!

The energetic, high-tension (as they say in Japanese) 28-year-old from America is a newcomer to the world of Japanese comedy with only two months of experience, but he’s already making a big splash. He’s currently being managed by Watanabe Entertainment, an entertainment conglomerate based in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.

▼Atsugiri Jason: Also known as Jason Danielson


Atsugiri Jason made an appearance on TV Asahi’s December 29 broadcast of Sokuhou! Ariyoshi no o-warai daitouryousenkyo 2014 [News flash! Ariyoshi’s comedic presidential election 2014], which was MCed by popular comedian Hiroiki Ariyoshi and all-round TV tarento Becky.

The TV special pitted a total of 28 comedic groups, 18 already established and 10 still up-and-coming, against each other to battle it out for the ultimate title of Comedic President.

So how did Atsugiri Jason fare during his performance? Let’s hear the general consensus from a few Japanese Twitter users:

“I’m dying with laughter after seeing Atsugiri Jason!!”

▼”I wanna see more of Atsugiri Jason! LOL”

“I laughed so hard after watching Atsugiri Jason that for the first time in a while, the muscles in my face hurt!”

The premise of Jason’s comedy sketch revolves around the constant battle he has with learning kanji, the Chinese characters adapted for use into Japanese writing. It’s a topic which most foreigners (and even native Japanese) can definitely sympathize with. Jason, however, changes this frustration into humorous explanations, and quickly has his audience dying from laughter with his incredulous faces and sudden bursts of high energy.

▼Jason makes his entrance!


Jason begins by explaining that although he has been living in Japan for four years, he is still actively studying the Japanese language. Kanji in particular present a constant challenge to him, especially when he tries to analyze the origins of them or break them down into smaller components for ease of memorization. But sometimes, doing so doesn’t always make things easier for him…

For his first example, he writes the kanji for “big” (大), a relatively simple character, on the board. He then adds a single mark to change the meaning to “fat/gain weight” (太), suggesting that this character is easy to remember because people who carry those few extra kilos/pounds around are often big.

▼In the middle of a calm explanation


In addition, he illustrates that if you move that one little mark to a different location, you get “dog” (犬)…



…and then suddenly shouts, “WHY, JAPANESE PEOPLE [in English]!!?? The dogs that are popular in Japan are this small! They’re not big at all!” The audience bursts into laughter at his sudden outburst of incredulity that the two kanji look so similar but don’t seem to be related at all.

We’ve never thought about it that way before, but hmm, he does have a point…

▼Probably true: The rough size of most dogs kept as pets by people in Japan


But the storm is over just as quickly as it came. He calmly goes on to draw the numbers one, two, and three in Japanese (一, 二, 三), stating, “Ahh, I see a pattern–I can do this! But as soon as I think that, all of a sudden [drawing “four” in kanji (四)]…there’s THIS! WHY, JAPANESE PEOPLE, WHY!!??”

▼Whoever designed the character for “four” thousands of years ago probably never expected to be at the butt of Atsugiri Jason’s jokes.


His following two examples involve cases of him breaking down common kanji into smaller components. First up, he demonstrates how the character for “touch” (触) is composed of two radicals which mean “horn” (角) and “bug” (虫) respectively. “If I see a horned insect,” he says, “I don’t try to touch it. It might be poisonous. [Pretends to see a horned insect on the ground] ‘Ahh, there’s a horned insect! I think I want to touch it!’ NOBODY DOES THAT!! Okashii darou [It’s strange]!” 

“I think I want to touch it!”


Second, “If a woman’s on a stand, what’s going to ‘begin’!?” he asks. This time, he’s referencing the fact that the kanji for “begin” (始) is composed of two radicals which mean “woman” (女) and “stand/table” (台) individually. Hmm, a two-hour stand-up karaoke session with hairbrush in hand, perhaps?

Finally, in a fit of apparent frustration/exasperation/irritation, he violently scribbles the incredibly complex kanji 憂鬱, which means “depression.” “It takes too many strokes to write!” he yells. “Just learning it will send anyone into a depression!!” 

▼The screams of anguish while he’s writing add a nice touch.


Finally, he throws his hands up in defeat and abruptly ends the routine:

“I’m giving up on kanji!!”


So what did the judges and audience members think about his skit? Well, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words:

▼Try not to bust a lung laughing there, ladies.


You can watch the full clip of Atsugiri Jason’s comedy sketch below:

In addition, here are two other videos of him (no English subtitles, sorry):

▼Ara-1 Grand Prix 2014 Finalist: Atsugiri Jason Introductory VTR

▼A similar skit revolving around kanji

Jason’s sketch on the Japanese TV show was such a hit that the number of subscribers to his personal Twitter account increased exponentially right after it aired. Furthering his theme of incredulity at different illogical things in Japan, he often posts messages using the hashtag #WHYJAPANESEPEOPLE, and even answers questions from fans, such as the ones below:

Japanese Twitter user: “Good evening, nice to meet you! What made you decide to use kanji as the basis of your skit? (´ω`)”

Atsugiri Jason: “Basically, when I was studying kanji, I noticed that there were too many inconsistencies and got frustrated. Certain ones shouldn’t have come into existence as written characters! #WHYJAPANESEPEOPLE”

Japanese Twitter user: “Atsugiri Jason-san, do you like PBJ [peanut butter and jelly sandwiches]?”

Atsugiri Jason: “I love them! They’re like the American version of onigiri. I don’t get why peanut butter’s not used more in Japan! #WHYJAPANESEPEOPLE Peanut cream is different, people!

“東 → ‘higashi’

東北 → ‘touhoku’

東北沢 → ‘higashi-kita-zawa’


Why isn’t it read ‘touhoku-zawa’? Okashii darou [It’s strange]! I can’t read place names!

“The Year of the Horse (午年) is about to end. I didn’t feel at all ‘horse (馬)-like’ this past year and the time flew by. The Year of the Sheep (未年) is up next, huh. I guess I’ll look forward to feeling like a sheep (羊). Hey wait, why do the Chinese zodiac year names use different kanji from the usual words for animals? #WHYJAPANESEPEOPLE Is noon the time to ride a horse? Is there a ‘correct horse’? Is there also an ‘incorrect horse’? Hey!”

(Here, he’s referencing how the Chinese astrological sign for horse is 午, which is the same character used to write “noon”[正午] in normal Japanese; the horse is also associated with the period from 11am-1pm in Chinese astrology. The first character in the compound for “noon” is 正, which has a separate meaning of “correct/true.”) 

We wish you the best of luck in the new year, Jason!! We’ll be rooting for you. And you’re always welcome to try out your comedy sketches on our intrepid group of RocketNews24 writers.

“That guy Atsugiri Jason is definitely gonna make it in 2015.”

Source: Naver Matome
Images: O-warai NatalieYouTube (7 xet), YouTube (Kakatv)