A nearly-blind man won a national competition for stand-up comedy in Japan.
Yutaro Hamada, 28, took home 5 million yen ($47,000) after winning the final round of the 16th R-1 Grand Prix in Tokyo on Tuesday.
According to The Mainichi, a record 3,795 people participated in the latest tournament, all vying to be recognized as the country’s funniest solo comedian. Both amateur and professional acts are welcome.
— ゆうか (@y_4696) March 6, 2018
Hamada, who hails from Kobe and is a professional comedian belonging to Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., was born blind on his left eye, while he only registers light on the right.
He was inspired to pursue a career in comedy after hearing a manzai performance on TV of a duo called Bikkizu and cried from laughing.
— あのさんまさんが泣いた動画 (@SANMASANGANAITA) March 7, 2018
After graduating from a special needs school, he worked part-time and saved enough money to attend New Star Creation (NSC), a training school established by Yoshimoto Kogyo.
Hamada has won laughs by pulling fun from his daily life as a visually-impaired person, among other matters.
While he is not too concerned about his visual impairment, Hamada thinks his audience cannot concentrate if they are conscious about it.
The World Blind Union – Asia Pacific quoted him as saying:
“I want to overcome this barrier. It’s my dream, on a big stage, to make the audience burst into laughter, with having them forget that I’m visually impaired. That would feel awesome.”
He cracked an audience in another competition last year:
“If you can’t make up your mind whether to laugh, please just laugh!”
Watch the highlights of the final round: