TOKYO (TR) – Stand-up comedy and film events were held in Tokyo’s Ueno district on Sunday in preparation for the upcoming First Old Town Taito International Comedy Film Festival.
At a stage near Ueno Park, fourteen comedy acts attempted to coax laughs with three-minute skits, including a vignette inspired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono from the duo Two Rice, before a panel of media industry representatives and tourist association members. Six of the acts will be selected to perform at the film festival, which runs between November 21 and 24 at theaters and halls in Taito Ward’s Ueno and Asakusa areas.
That evening, the theater hosted the live dubbing of Buster Keaton’s 1924 film “Sherlock Jr.” and “A Dog’s Life,” directed by Charlie Chaplin six years before. An electric organ accompanied the film images and voices.
At a press conference just prior to the screenings, television personality Koichi Yamadera, who lent his voice to “A Dog’s Life,” used the phrase “the God of comedy” to describe Chaplin, and emphasized his pleasure for being given such a unique opportunity. “This is not an average event,” said Yamadera. “It will be a challenge but we will do our best.”
Also announced was the festival lineup, which includes the opener, “Kanna-san Daiseiko Desu!,” based on the comic by Yumiko Suzuki and starring Yu Yamada, and the Japan premieres of Mike Myers’ “The Love Guru” and “The Heartbreak Kid,” featuring Ben Stiller as a newlywed pursuing another woman.
Organizers hope this inaugural event will re-establish interest in the roots of the downtown areas of Ueno and Asakusa, which was a bustling area of cinemas and halls in the immediate postwar era that produced such legendary actors as Kiyoshi Atsumi, best known for his role of the peddler Tora-san in the series “It’s Tough Being a Man.”