Sunshine is a very experienced performer in the traditional Japanese art form of comic storytelling, Rakugo. Originally from Canada, he is in the unique position of being the only non-Japanese professional Rakugo storyteller in the world and comes to Edinburgh as part of a ten month world tour. As common in Japan as stand-up is here, Rakugo is performed in pubs, universities, temples, on television and just about anywhere else.
There is no doubt that Sunshine is the best or only opportunity to see Rakugo performed in this country, if not outside of Japan.
In a custom-made tartan kimono, Sunshine kneels before us and, with only a Japanese fan and hand towel, recounts comical and quirky anecdotes, or "stories with punch lines". Each joke and mannerism is polite and pristine, and accompanied with a bow to the audience.
Sunshine is superbly knowledgeable and his material is slick and very well prepared. He is a very welcoming host and we are immediately comfortable in his presence. There is a sense of joy in everything Sunshine does and he is very generous with his audience, asking questions but not demanding answers, and praising our terrible attempts at the Japanese he teaches us. It feels like he's created a show with dual missions of entertainment and education; I learn much about Japanese language and culture, which is what most of his material covers, but it's done without mocking or belittling anything or anyone. With stories about miso beans and tigers, he is charming and engaging. Although Sunshine has chosen a life of Rakugo, he is charismatic and entertaining enough that I feel he would have been a performer even if he had never gone to Japan.
There is no doubt that Sunshine is the best or only opportunity to see Rakugo performed in this country, if not outside of Japan. It is not in the conventional style of stand up that we are accustomed to on the Fringe but this is a fun and funny show that anyone with an interest in Japanese culture or widening their comedy horizons should go and see.