Manzai is the Japanese version of the classic double act, in which a straight man (“tsukkomi”) feeds punchlines to a funny man (“boke”).
The difference between manzai and Western double acts is the frenzied pace. The emphasis is less on material (which rarely strays far from the toilet or childish puns), and more on timing and delivery.
The biggest name in manzai is Yoshimoto Kogyo, the Osaka-based entertainment company which produces Japan’s most famous comedians. Thanks to its performers, especially the massively-popular Downtown, the Kansai (Osaka region) dialect has become the language of comedy.
Takeshi “Beat” Kitano used his success in manzai duo ‘The Two Beats’ to launch an international acting/directing career.