Osaka-based Yoshimoto Kogyo talent agency and a Japanese media company celebrating its 110th anniversary this year have announced the launch of Yoshimoto Comedy Squad, a YouTube channel featuring non-verbal comedy videos and comedy “challenges” across a group. of topics. The goal is to expand the international fan base of Yoshimoto’s roster of comedians, the largest in the Japanese entertainment industry.
Among the talents featured on the channel is Uekusa Kazuhisa, better known by his stage name Wes-P or Mr. Uekusa, whose videos have gone viral on Twitter and TikTok, and has appeared in TV shows, commercials and events in 14 countries, including the United States, while accumulating 14 million followers on social media. He creates content for the channel exclusively.
Also on board are Haranishi Takayuki from comedy duo Fujiwara, who will be making videos in the globally infamous “punishment game” genre, popular mega-talented Naomi Watanabe, who has moved her base of operations to New York, and female comedian Yuriyan Retriever, who has appeared on America’s Got Talent.
“We hope that Yoshimoto Comedy Squad will serve as a catalyst for the world to learn more about the power of great Japanese comedians and variety shows,” says project manager Tsuchiya Tatsuhiko. “Throughout its 110-year history, Yoshimoto has built a rich culture of comedians who sincerely dedicate themselves to comedy. We believe that the techniques, spirit, and performances that Japanese comedians have refined and passed on to the next generation will be accepted worldwide.”
Yoshimoto will not occupy an exhibition space at this week’s TIFFCOM Market in Tokyo. But earlier this month it had a booth at the MIPCOM TV rights market in Cannes for the first time. With Japanese comedy shows enjoying renewed international interest—”Last One Laughing” has been sold as a franchise series in countries as diverse as Mexico, Italy and Australia—the company sees a bright future for format rights sales.