Comedy audiences, gender stereotypes, Harisenbon, Japanese comedy, Japanese television, manga, women magazines
This study examines the Japanese female comedy duo Harisenbon. By examining their approach to comedy and their reception by Japanese media and society, it discusses how they use their “ugly”, “fat” and “skinny” personas to expose Japanese social pressures upon women. It considers how both comedians present a self-image that apparently matches their stage characters, and how their interactions with mainstream media endorses the very social norms they ridicule, without directly challenging or satirising them, even if this leaves space for destabilising the assumptions on which they are based. It observes that one half of the duo, who is more successful than the other, might be due to her willingness to mock her own appearance more savagely.