Humor in Manzai Stand-up Comedy: A Historical and Comparative Analysis

Hanae Katayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the history and humor of manzai, or contemporary Japanese stand-up comedy. It will highlight a particular characteristic of manzai, which is the strong tradition of dialogue in performing comedy. The dialogue tradition in manzai will be contrasted with the tradition of the comic monologue in American comedy from a historical perspective. Cross-cultural distinctions will be discussed along with excerpts from actual comedy performances, through which some patterns of constructing humor are illuminated. The paper will also highlight particular elements of humor observed in manzai while drawing insights from the literature on Japanese comedy, American comedy, as well as humor studies. Examining manzai in its historical development and its characteristics, the present study attempts to provide insights into humor and comedy in Japan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-224
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Humor
  • Manzai
  • Stand-up Comedy
  • Japanese Comedy
  • American Comedy


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