Not such a good week so far for Yoshimoto Kogyo (profile). The major comic talent agency has canceled its biggest event of the year and has been threatened with a lawsuit by one of its veteran performers. The decision to cancel the “Live Stand 09 Osaka” event, scheduled for November 21-23, was made in an effort to avoid contributing to the anticipated spread of influenza this winter. A similar 3-day event held at the Makuhari Messe convention center in July drew 60,000 comedy fans.
Meanwhile veteran manzai-shi Maeda Goro (67) has threatened to sue Yoshimoto for slander. Maeda was suspected of involvement in threats and violence against fellow comedian Nakata Kausu (60), largely due to similarity between his handwriting and that in threatening letters sent earlier this year. He has not worked since May and was questioned by police in July, but he has not been charged with any crime. His lawyer says that Maeda’s handwriting has been expertly analyzed and was not a match for that in the letters. He said that he had written to Yoshimoto president Osaki Hiroshi (56) twice asking for a meeting but received no reply, “They won’t meet with us, so we decided to take the matter to court.” If the case goes ahead it would be in civil court, and Maeda is said to be seeking in the order of ¥100 million in damages as his career is effectively over. Sakata Toshio (67), his comic sidekick in the duo Comedy No.1 for more than 40 years, announced last week that he would be going solo.
End of the Road for Comedy No.1 (Sep. 3, 2009)
Maeda Case No Laughing Matter (May 26, 2009)