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Monday, May 18, 2015

Fringe 2015 review: "Japanese Samurai Don Quixote Challenging Giant English Windmills!"

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 1:50 PM

  • photo via
Hiroshi Shimizu wants you in his comedy boat.

Settle down, it's not a kidnap threat – it's a metaphor for life, and an endearing one, once you get to it. Japanese Samurai Don Quixote Challenging Giant English Windmills! is a remarkably inspiring, and also often incomprehensible, lecture on the meaning of life that masquerades as a standup routine.

Shimizu bounds from the back of the room in a bright-orange tracksuit and bounces onto the stage, where he tells stories about his family, details the challenges of being a comedian in Japan, explains why he hates! HATES! the English language (but also loves it) and ties it all together in the tale of his first Fringe performance, at the grandaddy of them all, Edinburgh.

To get his meaning across in the dreadfully logical and straightforward English language – which feels totally exposing to a Japanese person (not nearly so many ways to hide emotion or awkwardness in ambiguity or obfuscation) – he relies on making faces and utterances that aren't words. Growls, howls, wordless exclamations, panting, gobbling noises and several versions of nervous laughter supplement his vocabulary (which is in fact pretty good, as is his pronunciation, particularly if it's true that he learned not in a classroom but by accosting every English speaker he met in Japan and forcing a conversation).

So the windmills this Japanese Don Quixote tilts at aren't the English language, nor the struggle to get the audience on his side (you're pretty much there within five minutes, leaning forward in your seat willing him to get the words out). No, his struggles at Orlando Fringe are the heat (much mopping of sweat) and the Purple venue, which is invaded from every side by conversation just outside its doors and flushing noises from the adjacent restrooms. If you go, sit in the front row. You won't want to miss a word.

Japanese Samurai Don Quixote Challenging Giant English Windmills!
Hiroshi Shimizu - Tokyo, Japan
Venue: Purple
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: 13 and up
Price: $11

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