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Everything’s Happening at SDGs Kagetsu! at Yoshimoto Gion Kagetsu

2018/10/12 Event

The Kyoto International Film and Art Festival continued its mission of promoting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, with a two-part program on Friday October 12th at the Yoshimoto Gion Kagetsu theater in Kyoto’s historic Gion district.

The title of the program reflects the festival’s efforts to make learning about the 17 SDGs entertaining. The full, lengthy title is “From Movies to Stand-up Comedy and Yoshimoto New Comedy Troupe—Everything’s Happening at SDGs Kagetsu!”

The program kicked off with a screening of a documentary, which also happens to have quite a long title: "Wareware wa Waretai (we just wanna laugh). It’ll make us happy if it catches on. That’s all we ask."

Comedian Yuichi Kimura directed the film, which was inspired by the Sustainable Development Goal number 17, which is about building global partnerships. Kimura thought that one way to explore the nature of partnerships would be through a staple of Japanese comedy—two-member standup known as manzai. Kimura interviewed a total of 180 comedians about working so closely with another person. The one-hour documentary is made up of two long interviews held in cafes. The first is with All Hanshin Kyojin, a Yoshimoto comedy duo that got started way back in 1975. The second interview is with Daisuke and Hanako Miyagawa, who have been performing together since 1979 and have been married to each other for just as long.

After the screening, the director took to the stage with All Hanshin Kyojin and manga artist Tenten Hosokawa, who created the popular series “My SO Has Got Depression.” She based the story about a relationship put to the test by illness on her own marriage and her husband Akira Mochizuki joined her for the talk session.

Kimura asked what is important to maintain a partnership, be it a marriage or a comedy duo. Mochizuki answered that if one person knows that they are wrong, they have to say “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” His wife said that if one member gets angry, it is best not to voice that anger to the other person right away, but to hold it in for six seconds. All Hanshin said that with a comedy duo, as with a marriage, you cannot lie. His partner, known as All Kyojin, agreed, saying “if you lie the other person will know for sure."

The second half of the program was the “SDGs Grand Prix.” In this comedy show-down, popular performers chose one or two of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and built 5-minute skits around them. The duo Trendy Angel chose the Goal 1 “No poverty” and Goal 6 “Clean water and sanitation” and created a rapid-fire scene about needing to go the restroom when there isn’t one anywhere nearby. Natsuko Yokosawa chose Goal 9 “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure” and Goal 10 “Reducing inequalities.” Working solo, she performed both roles in a skit about a mother and daughter discussing inequality, getting big laughs from the audience.

Members of the audience were invited to submit their own humorous suggestions for contributing to one of the 17 SDGs. The comedy professionals then selected the winning entry.

That was followed by “Yoshimoto Shingeki SDGs,” a special performance on the theme of the Sustainable Development Goals starring Yasushi Kawabata, Sutchi and many other Yoshimoto comedians.

To wrap up the evening, all of the performers joined together in a song about SDGs. The audience laughed heartily throughout, proving the point that learning about SDGs can be fun.

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