This paper attempts to apply the concept of stardom to analyse rakugo performer Shunpūtei Shōta's relationship with his audience. It will examine mdes of communication between the performer, the media and his audience to analyse how his persona and the image of him as a "rakugo star" is constructed.
The methods by which a famous rakugo performer, such as Shunpūtei Shōta, can communicate with his audience extend far beyond the short period of interaction during an actual performance. As a long-time regular and the recently selected host of the weekly entertainment show Shōten, Shōta has become well known to Japanese audiences beyond fans of rakugo comedy alone. His regular television appearances have shaped a very specific on-screen persona of the performer—a persona that is omnipresent when Shōta emerges onto the stage as a rakugo artist and in all of his interactions with his audiences.
This research was inspired by the work of Richard Dyer, who analysed the star phenomenon as a construction of a range of materials. Using his theory as a framework, this paper attempts to apply the concept of stardom to analyse Shunpūtei Shōta's relationship with his audience. The research will assess modes of communication and interaction between Shōta, the media and his audience as a means of developing meaningful insights into how his on-screen persona and, thereby, the image of him as a "rakugo star" is constructed. The relationship between this on-screen persona and his actual performances, including the ways in which he interacts with the audience during live performances, will also be explored. As a result, the paper aims to generate a better understanding of the role of a popular rakugo performer within the modern media and entertainment world.