Understanding the Whitening Trend Among Comedians in the Post Super Black Era | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Understanding the Whitening Trend Among Comedians in the Post Super Black Era

What the staff saw! Behind the Scenes of Weekly TV

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In 2022, Harada (right) and Kin of the Biscuit Brothers won the King of Kontes competition. Immediately afterward, they were inundated with work, successfully fulfilling their dream of advancing to Tokyo.

In 2022, the “Biscuit Brothers,” winners of the “King of Kontes” competition, relocated their base of operations to Tokyo this spring, and the rent of their new residences has become a hot topic.


“Harada Taiga, the boke, is paying 300,000 yen in rent, while Kin, the tsukkomi, is paying 210,000 yen. In addition to them, over 10 other comedy duos from Osaka, such as ‘Sayaka,’ have also moved to Tokyo this spring. It seems they’re all living in similarly upscale apartments. Fans and viewers are surprised to learn about the unexpectedly high earnings they receive, as the comedians themselves have disclosed these amounts on TV and other media.” (broadcast writer)


The days when comedians joked about earning 500 yen per stage or getting only 10% of their pay with the company taking 90% are long gone. Since the ‘underground business’ scandal that FRIDAY scooped in 2019, it seems Yoshimoto Kogyo has significantly cleaned up its act,  says a production company director. 

“The pay for theater performances and internal projects hasn’t seen significant changes, but for external gigs like corporate events, the comedians are now offered a 50/50 split regardless of their rank, as explained in contract meetings.

In the past, for such gigs, only the agency knew the full amount paid, and comedians would receive less than half of the actual pay, with the rest going to the agency. Those days seem to be over, with a comedian-first approach becoming the norm, leading to fewer complaints.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also seems to have had a favorable impact on comedians.

“To adapt to no-audience performances, Yoshimoto’s main theaters have installed streaming systems. Previously, no matter how many tickets were sold via streaming, the pay remained the same, but since the pandemic, a system has been implemented where comedians are compensated based on the sales of streaming tickets.


In cases where tens of thousands of tickets are sold, comedians can earn hundreds of thousands of yen. Even comedians with low public recognition who primarily perform in theaters can make around 500,000 yen a month.”  (broadcast writer mentioned earlier)


Because they can now earn a living through streaming live performances and YouTube, more young comedians are not fixated on appearing on television. 

“It’s well-known that last year’s M-1 Grand Prix winners, Reiwa Roman, don’t prioritize television appearances. As terrestrial TV pay continues to decline, it’s not uncommon for young comedians to treat TV as a secondary priority. The era when breakthrough talents were overloaded with work by their agencies, leaving no time to sleep, has diminished.

If conditions are too harsh, they’ll be exposed on social media. There’s a strong rumor that Yoshimoto comedians, with their nationwide theaters, are the highest earners.”  (production company director mentioned earlier)

Yoshimoto is also rigorous about compliance.

“In March, a large-scale workshop was held at a theater in Tokyo, including warnings about female-related issues. Since the ‘dark business’ scandal, young comedians now sign contracts, but they are still treated as independent contractors, so nothing can be forcibly prohibited.

While there are occasional delays in sending invoices and consequently in paying salaries due to the large number of affiliated comedians, the system has become significantly cleaner.” ( Yoshimoto Kogyo insider)

The era when being a comedian was an extremely exploitative job is becoming a thing of the past.

From the May 31, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Yuri Adachi

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