I was walking around Union Square yesterday when I spotted a kimono-clad Japanese man with a guitar:
Hata is a somewhat popular Japanese comedian known for his trademark short songs, each of which rehashes a common insult about a well-known celebrity or public figure. Actually, since Hata's songs universally lack any sense of rhythm, meter, or melody, perhaps it would probably be more accurate to call them "blank-verse poems accompanied by random guitar-strumming".
I listened long enough to hear him run through little ditties about Michael Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, although Hata's loudly-screamed and heavily-accented English was not quite good enough for me to fully understand much of what he was saying. I believe he mentioned Michael Jackson's nose at some point. And though Hata did not perform the particular anti-Bush song I discussed in my previous post, he did sing another one that, if I heard correctly, mocked Bush for going to bed too early in the evening. Apparently, this was a reference to a line in Laura Bush's comedy routine at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner back in April.
There was a group of about four Japanese people with Hata, one of whom was filming him, presumably for use on Japanese television. I asked a woman in the group why Hata was performing in New York, and she said, in Japanese, "To make Americans laugh."
It is my sad duty to report that he failed miserably at this task.
While Hata belted out his tuneless lyrics, scattered onlookers watched with a mixture of scorn, contempt, and pity. One particularly blunt fellow came within about five feet of him and yelled "YOU SUCK!" at the top of his lungs, then walked away. You would be hard-pressed to find a more liberal audience than the folks hanging around Union Square on a hot summer's day, but not even Hata's anti-Bush song could save him. He was toast. Unable to bear witness any longer, I wandered off.
It's often said that tragedy is easy, but comedy is hard. Hata's comedic performance was tragic.