TOKYO SHOCK BOYS FEATURE
‘We never say to each other:
“That hurts.” But a lot of people have gotten hurt trying to copy us.’
there are people who can do our stunts better than us. but we like to get the audience involved, invite them up on stage and make them laugh.’
Enhanced by hokey humour, broken English and warm charisma. the Shock Boys'know when it comes to their stage show, personal injury is far from the only yardstick of success or failure. ‘We once had a trick in which we coated our bodies with wet cement.’ says Nanbu. ‘It was supposed to dry while we danced butoh, like [avant garde Japanese theatre group] Sankai Juku. But cement takes such a long time to dry. The audience got bored. That was a flop.’ In another parody of the celebrated dance group, the Shock Boys emerged, coated in white powder. from a large plastic bag in which they had set off a fire extinguisher. The stunt was dropped when they discovered fire extinguishers are not. in fact. good for you at all.
But then. few of the Shock Boys’ stunts are. They ﬁnd such things as health warnings on consumer goods irresistible. ‘Keep out of reach of children’ is a direct invitation to experiment. Warnings like this have inspired a stomach- churning series of gags — from drinking dishwashing liquid and eating solid air- freshcncr, to swallowing 60 cigarettes at once or drinking motor oil in order to fart fire. According to Sangojugo. ‘Fireworks cautions like “Point away from others” make us wonder, “What if we point them at ourselves?” Once, on tour. Gyuzo burnt his bum so badly he couldn’t shit for days. But at the time, hejust kept saying, [)aijobu [I’m okay]. I was a bit concerned, so I went to his room. He had his bum in a cold shower — he was leaning against the wall sobbing.
‘Sometimes we call the manufacturers to check out a trick. We say. “Excuse me, but my child just swallowed one of your products.” If they say. “Well, it should be alright, but if he doesn’t feel well, maybe he should go to hospital.” we think “This one’s not so danger- ous".’
Another challenge for the foursome is keeping ahead of their fans. According to Danna, ‘a drunk Australian demanded to know how I made milk come out of my eye. And he did really well on his first try. I‘ll have to do better. Maybe coffee and milk. Hey — cafe (m Iait.’
In keeping with the risks they confront on stage. the Shock Boys love to gamble. For Sangojugo and Nanbu it’s horses; Gyuzo likes roulette. and Danna wagers on everything from boat races and dice to bicycles and mahjong. Like their gags, their bets don’t always pay off, but this hasn’t stopped them pushing their homegrown comedy to the outer dimensions. ‘We like playing overseas,’ says Sangojugo. ‘The audiences are better. People seem to think. “We paid $20, so let’s have a good time.” At home it’s like “We paid $20 — what are you going to do?”’ ‘We’re definitely worth paying to see,’ adds Gyuzo confidently. But while the Shock Boys continue to disgust and delight fans abroad, an overseas move is unlikely. ‘l’d never live in America,’ says Gyuzo. ‘Too dangerous.’ Cl Tokyo Shock Boys (Fringe), Assembly Rooms (venue 3) Telephone 226 2428, 12 Aug - 3 Sept, 6pm, £7.50/£8.50 (£6.50/£7.50).
‘A drunk Aestrallan demanded to note how I oracle mllk come
out of my eye. And he and really well on his first try. I’ll have to do better. Maybe coffee and Inllk. Hey - cafe an lalt.’
tokyo Shook Boys:
tron lrlekleg dbhveoltleg Ilqele eel eetleg oolld alt-freshen", to mllovleg 80 cigarettes
at once or Irlekleg motor oll In order to tart tlre.
The List 12—18 August 199419