Kings of Kansai Comedy, Downtown!
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 2:54:26 PM
These guys have been around for a long time! The duo was first formed in 1982 when they joined 吉本興業 Yoshimoto Kougyou, debuting the next year.They make use of the Kansai dialect in their sketches, and paved the way for the Kansai dialect to be largely associated with comedy in general.
Being a manzai duo, Hamada plays the part of the つっこみ tsukkomi, or the level headed person, and Matsumoto plays the ぼけ boke, or the goof.
Their style of the manzai duo differed from the norm. Where usually manzai was quick paced and focused on the audience, Downtown slowed it down and instead approached manzai as something of a conversation between the performers.
Hamada, or Hamachan, had a rough life. His family was poor due to problems with yakuza debt, and he found studying to be stressful. Hamada's persona is a snide, bossy type who finds humor in the suffering of others. He is known for hitting his partner, Matsumoto, and any other junior comedians over the head when they say stupid things.
He has been known to snap at people, and have a somewhat short fuse, making him a little fearsome to meet for some upstart comedians. He has the nickname ドSの浜田 Do-S no Hamada, Hamada the Extreme Sadist. He has been put on a mock trial for his many 'crimes,' and at times has pretended to explode at people for the sake of humor.
That said, he is said to be a well-mannered person off screen, and a devoted father who speaks to his children in standard Japanese, and not the Kansai dialect.
Regarding Hamada's personal attributes, he is a terrible artist, and it continues as a kind of running joke. He also gets a lot of shit about the size of his lips. His is also said to have childish taste in food.
He did the voice of Slowking in the movie Pokemon 2000, and also drew a slowking that was released as a limited edition card to promote the movie named ハマちゃんのヤドキング Hamachan's Slowking. He has also promoted coffee and alcohol companies where he has stated that he doesn't much like either, however he is still a heavy smoker.
At the time of writing, Hamada hosts three shows by himself and appears in one as the Downtown duo.
Matsumoto, or Macchan, is the other half of the comedy duo, playing the boke. His life was also not easy, growing up in Amagasaki's poorer area. Matsumoto differs from Hamada in a few ways, one being that he is quite a talented artist, and at one point dreamed of becoming a manga artist.
Matsumoto maintained a single life longer than his partner Hamada, going as far as to say that he found falling in love unnecessary and bothersome. He did get married, however, in 2009 to a (much younger) Japanese talent. Rumor has it that it was something of a できちゃった結婚 dekichatta kekkon, or shotgun wedding.
Matsumoto enjoys video games, and in particular is proud of his Tetris skills, calling himself the テトリスト tetorisuto. He is also an accomplished, if not a little strange, movie director. His more popular movies to date being しんぼる shinboru and 大日本人 Dai Nipponjin.
He is also quite healthy, at times besting his partner and other comedians in physical competition, though has suffered a range of injuries over the years, most recently being a problem with his knee.
Matsumoto is a very observant person, often pointing out points of humor that others wouldn't even notice.
The Best of Downtown
Downtown have a long history. And over that long history they have been through a lot of different series short and long. Most probably know them from their arguably most famous ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで Dauntaun no Gaki no Tsukai Ya Arahende, which airs the ２４時間笑ってはいけない 24 Jikan Waratte wa Ikenai, no laughing special every New Year's eve along with many oher 罰ゲーム Batsu Geemu.
Their earlier works, for example the (very) old ごっつええ感じ Gottsu Ee Kanji has its good parts. I can recommend the 'Best of' DVDs. It is made up of many short skits, sometimes as a part of a series, sometimes one-offs.
More recently, Matsumoto's すべらない話 Suberanai Hanashi is quite interesting. About 8 players gather and they must tell funny, true stories. The player is decided by dice.
Another recent Downtown duo variety show is 大日本アカン警察 Dai Nippon Akan Keisatsu, which is ongoing. Downtown host the show as police. Other comedian detectives present a case that they think is アカン akan, or no good. Then other celebrities, and Matsumoto pass a verdict.
To understand these, you will need some grasp not only on Japanese, not only on the Kansai dialect, but of Japanese culture and humor in general!
Some places to find these shows are torrent sites, YouTube, and also the great resource: Gaki No Tsukai Fan Page