Learning Japanese is fun, but one of the toughest forms of Japanese to master is comedy. But that hasn’t stopped America’s longest-running variety show, Saturday Night Live, from giving it a try. For decades, SNL has tried out Japanese-language comedy, with various results.
SNL started big with the brilliant John Belushi, whose total lack of Japanese can be overlooked in light of his insane, larger-than-life version of a movie-samurai
In the 1990’s, SNL ran a Japanese-style game show parody w/ Mike Myers and Chris Farley (and a young Alec Baldwin).
Mike Myers’ and Alec Baldwin’s Japanese accents are better than many I’ve heard from beginner American students!
In the 2000’s, SNL’s Japanese-language version of “The Office” is astoundingly spot-on, probably because Steve Carrell was on hand to help out.
While not exactly fluent, the actors demonstrate some entirely recognizable Japanese pronunciation. Enjoy!
On the other hand, there is some deliberately terrible Japanese available on this parody of a college J-Pop talk show, which ran in the 2010’s - here, the Americans are the target of the jokes.
But if American versions of Japan are too silly to handle, why not try some truly Japanese SNL?
SNL Japan only ran for one season in Japan, but it had some famous hosts and ran almost identically to the American format.
That’s because it was produced by Lorne Michaels himself, whose production company launched the show back in 2011.
However, it was only 45 minutes long, only ran once a month, and aired at 11 pm.
The opening credits were spot-on, thanks in part to Don Pardo’s participation.
They even had their own version of weekend update.