Watanabe Ken’s Comeback: Overcoming Expiry Dates and Restroom Curses in Terrestrial TV | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Watanabe Ken’s Comeback: Overcoming Expiry Dates and Restroom Curses in Terrestrial TV

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It took four years since the scandal for “UN-JASH” Watanabe Ken to make a live appearance on terrestrial television.

On June 21st, Watanabe Ken of the comedy duo “UN-JASH” appeared on the live broadcast of Tokyo MX’s program “Goji ni Muchuu!” It’s been buzzed about as his first live appearance on terrestrial TV since the adultery scandal.


Regarding his return to terrestrial TV, he had already done so in February 2022 on Chiba TV’s “Shirokuro UN-JASH” as an independent UHF station. However, on his YouTube channel “UN-JASH Watanabe Dreams of Appearing on a Gourmet Show on Terrestrial TV Someday,” he expressed his desire.

“I want to appear on terrestrial TV.”

This suggests that his true wish may be a return to a major network.

Four years have passed since the scandal. After suspending his entertainment activities, he returned to television on “Shirokuro” 1 year and 4 months later as mentioned earlier. However, the public’s response was not favorable, and subsequent TV appearances did not follow. While he hasn’t sought refuge as a disgraced comedian, he has shifted his activities to the internet. During this time, he did make a national terrestrial TV appearance on December 29, 2023, on “Zenryoku! Datsuryoku Times” (Fuji TV), albeit with mixed reactions rather than a strong response from the public.

Will Watanabe achieve a complete return to a major network?

“It will be difficult.”

Says a director responsible for variety shows at a major network.

“Shortly after returning to Chiba TV, every major network was watching to see if he would appear somewhere first. And if he did, even if it caused a stir, and even if it was only temporary, they would consider, ‘Next, he’ll come to us.’ But in the end, no one took the risk.

Because, well, it’s risky. It’s not just complaints to the station, but now sponsors would also face criticism. And now, time has passed, and whether good or bad, viewer interest in Watanabe has faded. From the program production side, if we can’t expect good ratings and there’s a possibility of complaints, ‘Let’s not do it.’ So, frankly, in meetings, Watanabe’s name isn’t brought up.” (same director)

Another major network producer adds,

“Sure, online you often hear, ‘Maybe we should forgive him.’ But that doesn’t translate to wanting to see him on TV. This appearance has also drawn criticism.

It’s been four years since the scandal, and more people probably feel ‘I don’t care anymore’ rather than ‘I forgive him.’ If people who have lost interest see Watanabe on TV now, they might just feel tired of hearing more about the scandal.”

It’s as if his expiration date has passed, explaining why public interest is so thin.

Many television insiders who were pushing for Watanabe’s early return hoped he would talk about the affair himself, and perhaps use jokes about toilets to get laughs and ratings. But too much time has passed; viewers have lost interest and it’s clear that even joking about toilets won’t bring the laughs.

“Watanabe himself must understand this, but he can’t avoid it. He’s joked about it, but he can’t smile through it, and he always seems apologetic, which makes it hard to watch. Even this time, talking about toilets wasn’t particularly interesting, and of course, it didn’t bring any laughter.” (sports journalist)

The comedy world continues to produce talented comedians one after another. It’s not a strong suit for “UN-JASH,” but Watanabe’s hopes and reality seem to be constantly at odds.

  • PHOTO Sota Shima

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