Tokyo Comedy Store

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The Tokyo Comedy Store (TCS) is an English-language comedy show held in central Tokyo, Japan, which features stand-up comedians and improvised comedy.

The Tokyo Comedy Store was founded in 1994 as the "Tokyo Comedy Club" by Kevin Burns. Burns gathered together stand-up comics and a hypnotist by placing many ads in the Tokyo Classifieds (now called The Metropolis), calling for performers. The first show was held at the Tokyo American Club, and the second at the British Club in Ebisu, Tokyo. Roughly around the same time a separate group called the Tokyo Cynics started an all stand-up comedy show in the Takadanobaba area at a bar called The Fiddler.

By about 1998, Burns was no longer involved, and from that time up until the mid-2000s the group was run first by Nick Abrahams, then Michael Naishtut, who had been independently performing improv comedy in Tokyo, and Chris Wells, one of the founding members of TCS. Naishtut was also hosting the "Tokyo Cynics" shows, and the two groups were effectively merged. Around the same time, the name was changed to the "Tokyo Comedy Store".

Since then, the Tokyo Comedy Store has held multiple shows every month at various venues. Venues come and go, and so over the year shows have come and gone, or moved locations, but there are usually between three and six shows running at any one time. Some shows involve stand-up, some involve improv, and some involve both. The cornerstone show is held on the last Friday of every month and features stand-up comedians in the first half. The second half of the show consists of entirely improvised comedy by "Spontaneous Confabulation" (known as "Spontaneous Confusion" until 2010), the resident improv troupe. The show usually ends with music-based improvisation.

Currently the titular head of the Tokyo Comedy Store is Chris Wells, who also runs the cornerstone show at the Crocodile live-house in Shibuya, attracting audiences of around 100, the vast majority of whom are non-Japanese. Other shows around Tokyo are organized by Dave Gutteridge, who since the early 2000s has been a show runner, performer, and administrator of the website.

At about the same time the Tokyo Comedy Store was first founded, Jun Imai started to teach improvisation classes for Japanese performers and stage improv performances as "in the moment". In 2004, he brought the In The Moment improv troupe to TCS and produced the first ITM + TCS shows, which were based entirely on improvised comedy. These became known as TCSj (Tokyo Comedy Store Japanese), and the group performed twice a month in the same venue as the English version through 2011. TCSj cut down on their shows in 2012, and now perform several times a year at the Crocodile and other venues. Although it features the same type of improvised scenes as the English show does, it has several different show formats with different casts. Currently TCSj has a cast of over 40 improvisors.

Tokyo Comedy Store film[edit]

A documentary film about the Tokyo Comedy Store was made and released on DOC: The Documentary Channel in 2008. The film is a narrative account of director Brian C. Anderson's experience performing with the stand-up comedians of the Tokyo Comedy Store. Anderson's film explores the differences between Eastern and Western styles of comedy, and showcases various acts he encounters as he progresses as a stand-up comedian in Tokyo.[1] Anderson made the film while stationed overseas in the United States Air Force.

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