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Yutaka Yoshida, Aki join Japan comedy royalty as new heads of Yoshimoto Shinkigeki theater

Comedians Yutaka Yoshida, left, and Aki are pictured in Osaka's Chuo Ward on March 21, 2023. (Mainichi/Go Taniguchi)

OSAKA -- Comedians Yutaka Yoshida and Aki have been appointed new co-heads of the famed Yoshimoto Shinkigeki comedic theater company.

    The announcement was made during a March 21 evening event at Yoshimoto Shinkigeki's Namba Grand Kagetsu theater in the city of Osaka to celebrate the company's anniversary. Yoshimoto Shinkigeki was founded in March 1959 as Yoshimoto Variety and has since produced generations of some of Japan's most famous comedians.

    Yoshida, 43, and 53-year-old Aki join Ai Sakai and Suchi as the company's headliners, and are the first to make the jump in six years, following Sakai. Meanwhile, incumbent Yasushi Kawabata bowed out on March 20 after some 16 years in the post, leaving four in the top group.

    Yoshida joined Yoshimoto Shinkigeki in 2005, and became known for a physical comedy routine with Suchi called "Drill sunnokai." Aki joined the company in 2014 and earned stage fame for his "iiyo" tag line. He won the Yoshimoto Shinkigeki election -- a popularity vote -- in 2022.

    "It's like, 'I can't believe it,'" Yoshida told a news conference about his promotion. "I want to keep building Yoshimoto Shinkigeki with the comedians coming after me, those who've been around for longer, and those who joined at the same time."

    Aki told reporters, "I've managed to come this far thanks to the senior comedians. I want to take firm hold of my responsibilities and enliven Yoshimoto Shinkigeki."

    (Japanese original by Go Taniguchi, Osaka Cultural News Department)

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