It is not unusual for non-British talent to compete on Britain’s Got Talent. Many well-talented, international performances have been discovered here in the past, such as the French Human beatboxer MB-14, who completed the 16th series that ended this June, and the Italian escape artist Andrew Basso in the 15th series. And Japanese comedian Tonikaku, a wild card finalist in the aforementioned 16th season as MB-14, is one such international talent.
Wearing only a swimsuit, he made various naked poses and pointed to his swim trunks, saying “Don’t worry, I’m wearing,” to which he had the audience involved to respond “Pants!” His style of comedy could perhaps be seen as not so smart or elegant but is indeed unique. We have to admit that it is not for everyone, but it has certainly garnered a large following.
Originally a Japanese comedian
Since most Japanese comedians perform in Japanese, they are rarely known outside of Japan. And as such, his success was reported at every turn. He attracted a great deal of attention among the Japanese, perhaps with the help that he was available for betting on several Japanese bookmakers. He eventually became the first Japanese finalist in the BGT.
Tonikaku, or Tonikaku Akarui Yasumura in his Japanese stage name, was born in northern Japan, Hokkaido, like many other Japanese comedians, studied comedy at a famous comedy school, NSC Tokyo. When his comedy duo “Armstrong”, which had been together for about 15 years, broke up in 2014, Yasumura thought about returning to his hometown in Hokkaido. However, with his wife having convinced him to continue, he decided to go solo, which is when TONIKAKU was born.
Big breakthrough at R-1 Grand-Prix
His breakthrough came in 2015. At the time, Yasumura was working to get more exposure by performing live in regional areas and appearing on TV. He then entered the 2015 R-1 Grand-Prix, a national comedy contest. This contest is a fierce competition among many comedians seeking to advance their careers. Though not able to win, Yasumura made it to the finals here, where he charmed the judges and the audience with his unique lightness and humor.
His performance’s signature line, “Don’t worry, I’m wearing it,” in that year’s “New Word and Trendy Word Awards” catapulted him into the ranks of mainstream comedians. That allowed him to start performing on major TV shows and at live events.
Tonikaku entered Britain’s Got Talent competition in June because his management agency, Yoshimoto Kogyo, entered on his behalf, whereas he himself said he went to England thinking of it only as a vacation trip. He did not expect to make it to the finals.
His “don’t Worry I’m Wearing” was the golden ticket that pushed him up to fame in Japan, and there is no doubt that this is his signature one-liner at the moment. But he does not live by this alone. In Japan, he has also done physical comedy, shaving his hair and eyebrows and covering himself with buckets of water. And then there are performances where he plays a character in a role-playing situation. It is still a cultural question whether or not a certain type of comedy would be accepted outside of Japan. But he sure has drawn a great deal of attention at BGT after reaching the finals, not only in the UK but internationally. Now the stage for his future has expanded from Japan to the world, we look forward to seeing more of him soon.