Recently a friend of a friend contacted me with questions regarding my experiences in the Japanese entertainment industry. Below is my reply.
How hard has it been for you to break in?
The biggest advantage with my comedy has been simply being a foreigner. This obviously really helps in getting me noticed. People remember me, and I stand out at auditions. I've never met another foreigner doing comedy in Japanese, and I'm always the only non-Japanese at comedy auditions or live shows. There are a few I've seen on TV, but almost never consistently. The biggest one I can think of is "Bobby"--an African guy that speaks fluently.
But there have been major challenges with breaking in. I certainly don't fit "the pattern" often seen on mainstream Japanese media. I sing funny songs in Japanese, and sometimes they're about taboo topics. Japanese comedians rarely reference politics, but I dabble in political satire as it provides a well of comedic sources (How could you NOT make fun of the drunk Japanese finance minister!?). The one time I got on a major Japanese variety show, I had to read a script and could not do my own material.