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He can't make it here

I was walking around Union Square yesterday when I spotted a kimono-clad Japanese man with a guitar:

It turns out he was none other than the Guitar Samurai himself, Yoku Hata, who I previously discussed here.

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.


Anonymous said...

Fabulous post! If I happen to see here in Japan the footage that was apparently made while you were (not) enjoying his performance, I'll let you know. My guess is it won't air until after you return here, so you can (not) enjoy him, twice! 

Posted by Comrade_Tovarich

Sharon said...

"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."

Damn I love New York! Although, I have to admit, the guy looks kind of hot.

Posted by Langtry

Anonymous said...

Umm... Union Square is in San Francisco, not in New York. 

Posted by Steven Den Beste

Anonymous said...

...of course, I could be wrong... 

Posted by Steven Den Beste

Anonymous said...

I think Hata and a handful of others became popular because they did a novel thing, for Japanese comedians: actually make fun of, or satirize, other Japanese celebrities by name. As far as I know this was almost unheard of, or at the least very uncommon, until Hata, Aoki Sayaka and that guy in the suit, can't remember his name, came along.

But really, Hata doesn't seem talented, his act is growing stale, and I'm surprised he hasn't disappeared already. 

Posted by Chompsky

Anonymous said...

...of course, I could be wrong...  
Or maybe GB took the wrong turn at Albeuerque, and ended up in San Francisco, still thinking he was in New York. (I hate when that happens.)
There's even the possiblity that maybe "Union Square " is a common enough name that it exists in several different cities ;-)

I can't help but think that the producers got exactly what they wanted from the New Yorker saying "You suck!" I'm guessing that they were counting on him bombing embarrassingly for comedic value. 

Posted by Big Ben

Anonymous said...

Damn, missed him! I bought a Guitar Samurai tee-shirt in March when I was visiting my in-laws. I wonder if he's going to be around for a few days. The Union Square comment above made me chuckle.  

Posted by Joe Grant

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your report about Hata in USA.
I am Japanese. and I heard that Hata try to get famous in USA. (lots of Japanese celebrity people's common dream).
But no media tell what happen to him in USA. but now I can know by your blog.
Yes, his comedy is just saying bad thing. No rhetoric, no wit. Just hostility. Lots of Japanese people know the result of Hata's USA trip.
I dont know why Hata's performance is called comedy. but when he is yelled Suck, it become comedy. 

Posted by masamania

Anonymous said...

Thanks for commenting, Masamania! I love your blog .

If only I took as many pictures as you do, I would have had one of the guy yelling at Hata. But I put my camera away too soon. Lesson learned. 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

Fun post!

Enjoy NY, mate. 

Posted by a guy in pajamas



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