Though English-language comedy is not a new concept in Japan, with regular events in both Tokyo and Osaka, Fukuoka has lacked any notable stand-up scene or regular comedy events, until now. Friday night (Jan 30) saw the first iteration of Fukuoka’s Friday Night Comedy, a new event that will take place on the last Friday of every month. It is the brainchild of Ollie Horn, a former Oxford Revue comedian who subsequently cut his teeth on the comedy circuits of Paris and Hong Kong and who plans to create Fukuoka’s own comedy circuit and roster of up and coming comedians.
The location for Fukuoka’s first soiree into comedy was the C.C. Cafe, an English Language school by day and international bar by night. Spot lighting, gaudy red trimmings and a handmade stage turned the bar into the perfect arena, boldly combining the finer aspects of both Amsterdam’s red-light district and London’s Comedy store. The event’s sold-out audience was packed in within arms length of both bar and comedian, creating an atmosphere that was perfectly intimate with both performer and drink.
Housekeeping notes aside, ‘if there’s a fire, we’re fucked’, the night began by showcasing the talents of five first time comedians, recruited from Fukuoka’s burgeoning foreign contingent. The diversity of nationalities (UK, USA, New Zealand, Ukraine) was reflected in the diversity of their sets, which ranged from Chinese potty humour (literally) to the economic potential of turning deceased relatives into compressed diamonds. Though hidden nerves surfaced at points, the slickness of these five comedians speaks to their own abundance of talent as well as the hard work of Ollie Horn who helped shape their early efforts into the finished product that was a pleasure to see.
The second half saw the Japanese debut of Nick Milnes, a Hong Kong resident and veteran of the city’s stand-up circuit flown in to headline the night. Self described as the top international comedian (they could afford), the show was in safe hands as he guided us through a half an hour set worthy of Comedy Central. Yet afterwards he sang the praises of the night’s less experienced comedians, echoing the crowd’s earlier whoops and cheers with his own sentiment of appreciation.
Another mention must of course go to Ollie Horn who acted as the compère for the night, leading the show with a level of flair and professionalism that tied the whole evening together, and resulted in a show that went well beyond all expectations, leaving the audience in stitches and hungry for next month’s event.
Friday Night Comedy featuring: Nick Milnes, Ollie Horn, Rosanna Jackson, Tom Emmott, Jeff Sullivan, Olena Selyanchyn & Taylor Ruddle.
Report by: Oscar Boyd
Oscar is a student from London, UK. He is a keen hiker and aims to summit every mountain in Fukuoka visible from his bedroom window. If you have any suggestions contact him on Twitter @omhboyd