Japan’s version of the American comedy sketch program Saturday Night Live (SNL) has kicked-off its season with a nationally televised premiere. Drawing from similar formulas of set design and famous entertainers as guest hosts, the first episode was led by hosts Koji Imada and Akashiya Sanma with special guest Takashi Okamura and vocal talent Ken Hirai. The show will air monthly and is sticking to the live feed performance style which is a relatively new angle in contrast to the heavily edited variety shows popular in Japan.
As for the first episode, the sets and feel are very much akin to that of its American counterpart. However, the heavy influence of Japanese Konto style slap-stick comedy has replaced the more character focused, sketches that any viewer of the original show might be used to. Although there were a few natural hiccups that added to the flavor of each skit, the show went on without a hitch and was a safe entry into the season. The director Isao Kagari, who also directs the more developed Mad-TV like sketch show Pikaru no Teiru, pulled most of his actors into the SNL Japan. But, as Japanese show-biz goes, most of the imported younger staff had to stand in the background while the seasoned veterans (with equally seasoned comedy) took center stage.