JAPAN

Human Tetris: simple... but funny

Japanese game show contestants have been trying to avoid a pit of water by fitting themselves into a cut-out shape for years. Now, Americans are taking their turn. An expat in Japan tries to explain why the country's simple humour seems to be so successful abroad.

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Japanese game show contestants have been trying to avoid a pit of water by fitting themselves into a cut-out shape for years. Now, Americans are taking their turn. An expat in Japan tries to explain why the country's simple humour seems to be so successful abroad.

Originally launched in Japan in 2006, the game show's simple concept has since been exported to 16 countries including Australia, Russia and Denmark. Until now there has been no cash incentive, but the American participants will have even more reason to fit their bodies into the ever-unusual shapes coming towards them, as Fox, who is running the show, is offering a financial reward. Known as Human Tetris to its YouTube fans, it has been rebranded as Hole in the Wall for the US market. Fox is already organizing castings, and is insisting that people of "all shapes and sizes" are welcome.

Les Tetris humains partout dans le monde

Hole in the Wall appeals for participants for the upcoming US version.

 

The show came to France last November and aired on TMC. Sadly it has since disappeared off the screens.

 

The Italians came up with the inventive idea of putting scantily clad women on the show.

"Generations behind with humour"

Lee Chapman is a British expat who’s been living in Japan for the past ten years.

A lot of these TV programmes are just bizarre and not really funny. But this human Tetris, people can relate to it, which is why it got so popular outside of Japan. It’s also quite a clever idea but I don’t think it will work in the States. It’s a gimmick, a one-off. The Americans will get bored of it. A lot of Japanese humour is almost like going back in time a few generations with all the silliness and the slapstick. The majority of it is not very intelligent, which is not the like the humour I’m used to coming from Britain.

Perhaps agreeing with the proverb that two heads are better than one, the vast majority of Japanese TV shows seems reluctant to have a solitary figure fronting them, although that said, they generally don’t stop at two either, with most boasting a whole gaggle of guests and panellists. Unfortunately, these numbers are generally made up from Japan’s seemingly endless supply of ‘talents,' the vast majority of whom, despite their job description, must have some seriously embellished CVs. So, pretty faces and the odd quirky trait aside, producers are presumably forced to come up with increasingly imaginative games and challenges to keep them in gainful employment. And at the same time make appealing, if somewhat puerile, programmes. There’s a strong work ethic here in Japan, it’s a very rigid system, so maybe this mindless entertainment is a way to escape."

The original Japanese version.

Other ingenious game shows coming out of Japan

In this show, if a contestant gets the answer wrong, their partner is launched into the air with rockets attached to their feet, hanging only from a rope attached to a crane.

 

Contestants must run through a series of doors. Some of the doors are made of paper, while others are made of wood.