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SHOW RECAP: July 30th, Tokyo


SHOW RECAP: July 30th, Tokyo

July in Tokyo is all about festivals, rock concerts, sweaty salarymen, watermelon and summer fun and this month's Pirates of Tokyo Bay show had a little bit of all of those (and more)! Squaring off were two teams of Pirates, the Red team and the White team, both "fighting" for the audience laughs and votes casted in our app.  

On the Red team was: Mike, Bob, Annika, Tomoko and Trey.  
On the White team: Masa, Elliot, Roza, Rodger and Carlos.

The show opened with a bilingual music number inspired by summer in Japan. Taking suggestions from the audience ranging from sweat to cockroaches, the Pirates crafted a bilingual song backed by Ben Anderson on the piano. Points were given to the Red team for Tomoko's amazing singing. 

Score: Red 7, White 1.

Next up was a mixed team game done in Japanese called "Ding" and then on to the Red v. White team games.

Red team started off with "1 Thing" which is a gibberish game. An every day activity was gotten from the audience and then common items associated with that activity were replaced with crazy alternatives. Mike was the guesser for the Red team and successfully guessed that he was "Making Breakfast".  But the eggs were Pasmos, the pan was a car, the in-house chef was a starfish and the sponge to clean the pan was actually Cookie Monster. Crazy!

The White team followed up with their game, "Late for Work" where Roza had to guess why she was late to her job at a sushi restaurant. The suggestions she correctly guessed were that 1) she was late because her purse didn't match her dress, 2) she rode an elephant to get to work, 3) but on the way to work on the elephant, it went in to labor. 

After that round of games, the audience voted.

Score: Red 9, White 7

Next up were the Japanese game, "Whose Line" where the scene dialogue was dictated by lines of dialogue given by the audience and written down on strips of paper for the Pirates to use. As seems to be a trend recently, the phrase "Make America Great Again" made an appearance.

Right before intermission, the Pirates played "Action Replay" and then "Speed Dating". Both were bilingual games and "Speed Dating" involved longtime Pirate Fan, Alan as the guest on stage to guess a series of celebrities* he was on a speed date with. 

Score at intermission: Red 13, White 12

After the intermission and traditional selling of raffle tickets, the Pirates opened with a rarely played song-game, "In the Neighborhood". The highlight was Bob's debut as a singer! He won points for his Red team as the only singer in the game.

Score: Red 15, White 12

After a Japanese game of "Blind Dubbing", the Red and White teams squared off again for audience votes.

Red team went with "Marionettes" and invited a special fan, from Aoba International School in Japan where the Pirates workshopped with the kids earlier in the month. 

White team went with Sound FX where two audience participants provided all the sounds effects for the scene. Almost to an impressive realism!

Score: Red 17, White 12

The final game was audience favorite, "Rap Tinder" where the Pirates, backed by a custom-made rap beat, create verses based on audience submitted selfies that are projected above the stage. Masa won the battle and got "swiped right" to win.

FINAL Score: Red 18, White 32

Need tickets to our August 27th show? Get them here.

* Celebrities were played by Pirates. ;)


The Pirates of Tokyo Bay Celebrate 5 Years of Improv Comedy


The Pirates of Tokyo Bay Celebrate 5 Years of Improv Comedy

While there is a small improv comedy scene in Japan, it is not as popular as it is in the West. “If I asked 100 people, I wouldn’t even be surprised if it was zero who knew what it is,” says Mike Staffa, founder and leader of The Pirates of Tokyo Bay.

“I haven’t seen any group that does a game style similar to ours, even in a Japanese improv comedy festival,” adds Lisa Sumiyoshi, who has been with the group all of those five years. “Normally the Japanese improv comedy style is more theatrical, they don’t do many games, so in that way it’s really unique even in Japan.”

Photo by Benjamin Park

Photo by Benjamin Park

“Our style is short and sweet, you’ll get a laugh,” explains Bob Werley, a member of the group for four years. “They aren’t those long narrative story based scenes, our games are like 2 to 3 minute each. So if you thought a game is not that funny, and you didn’t laugh much, it’s only three minutes. And then the next game is gonna start, and you’ll think; now that is really funny!”

What makes The Pirates of Tokyo Bay even more unique amongst in the Tokyo improv scene is their bilingual presentation. “There’s a lot of couples where one person is Japanese, one person is foreign, and a lot of times you have the choice of going to an all Japanese show or going to an all English show,” says Bob. “So usually one person is not having as much fun. The Pirates allows both people to at least have fun half of the time!”

“We have Japanese games, and English games and mixed language games. And then non-language, gibberish games!” Lisa says. “Our mission statement is: ‘we want everyone to laugh regardless of your language’, and I think we accomplish that,” Mike adds. “There’s no-one in town that we shouldn’t be able to entertain!”

Photo by Michael Holmes

Photo by Michael Holmes

For this special 5th anniversary show, the group will be playing at the avant-garde SuperDeluxe venue near Roppongi Hills. The group played at SuperDeluxe for their 4th anniversary show last year, and are returning to put on an even bigger show. “We had such a fun time, and were able to do a lot more technical stuff at that show, so that’s why we’re doing it again there for the 5th anniversary.

“Plus the Osaka Pirates are coming back, so we need a bigger stage,” adds Mike, referring to the Osaka-based improv group Pirates of the Dotombori. “It’s fun for me to perform with the Osaka Pirates, because I started them 10 years ago. It’s really special, and it helps the audience realise that we are a Japan-wide brand. They always bring a different style of comedy, especially with their Kansai-ben.”

So what can you expect from the 5th anniversary show? “We will have a lot more singing games and a lot more rapping games that we’re gonna be doing this year,” Mike tells us. “We also have a couple of surprise games. YouTuber EpicLLOYD will make an appearance digitally and challenge the Pirates to a game, and none of the Pirates know what that game is!”

Another popular Japanese YouTuber, Bilingual Chika, will also be challenging the Pirates to a surprise game, and a world-famous voice actor will also be making a surprise appearance as an announcer at the show.

The Pirate of Tokyo Bay 5th Anniversary Show will be held on 29 November from 18:30–21:30 at SuperDeluxe in Roppongi. Tickets are ¥2,500 and include one drink. Buy tickets at the door or in advance at Peatix: