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Kyōgen

  • By: Marguerite Wells
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Of the extant comedy genres on the Japanese stage, Kyōgen, which is written with characters meaning “mad words,” is generally considered the oldest, although Manzai may be older. Kyōgen is the humorous twin genre of the stately and is performed on the same stage, providing the comic relief between plays. A full program consists of three plays interspersed with two Kyōgen plays, forming a full day's performance. Such full-day performances are no longer common. This entry discusses the elements of Kyōgen, its history, and types of professional Kyōgen performance.

The word kyōgen was used by the monk Dōgen in a pejorative sense in the 9th century and also by Fujiwara Teika in his diary (1188 CE). It is believed the term was ...

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