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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- November 20, 1989
- Vol. 32
- No. 21
Comic Tamayo Otsuki Is One Japanese Import Who Comes from the Far-Out East
Either because Americans will buy anything Japanese or because of Tamayo's snappy delivery, her chopshtik is working: She is a regular at L.A.'s Comedy Store, has played New York's Catch a Rising Star and has taped a segment for Joan Rivers's new syndicated show. "I still feel deeply Japanese," says Otsuki, "and the premise of the jokes still comes to me in Japanese. But the punch lines, they are always in English. In Japanese, it's very difficult to use a punch line."
The daughter of a factory owner and a nurse in Osaka, Tamayo dropped out of Kansei Gakuin University and in 1981 landed in L.A. with $100 and one Barbra Streisand tape. "I listened to the tape 200 times," she says. "I wanted to be Barbra Streisand." Along the way she supported herself by the aforementioned topless dancing and drumming. Meanwhile she studied voice, mime and comedy, and in 1984 she signed up for amateur night at the Comedy Store. The audience loved her. "I felt like I had met the man I was going to marry," she says.
Her countrymen may soon get a chance to savor Otsuki's international humor firsthand during her projected first visit to Japan in five years. "My father didn't want me to come because he didn't want other Japanese to know about me," she admits. "He was concerned others might come over and try to do the same thing I'm doing." Now, that would be expansionism.
September 24, 2016
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