Prepare to be Shocked: Off-Broadway's Tokyo Shock Boys closed at the Minetta Lane Theatre on Sunday, April 13 after 9 previews and 68 regular performances. Though the show attracted good crowds on weekends, spokesperson James L.L. Morrison told Playbill On-Line the weeknight traffic was slow.
Prior to their Feb. 19 Off-Broadway opening, the Shock Boys played to crowds in Osaka, Sydney, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Montreal and Denmark. Those "zen masters of the utterly absurd" offered weird and death-defying acts in the name of comedy.
The four Boys, Danna, Gyuzo, Nambu and Sango, met backstage at a Paul McCartney concert in 1990 (they were all working as roadies). After appearing on a bawdy, irreverent, Japanese TV program, they became the show's highest-rated guests.
Danna, once a dancer, now "chews dry ice and follows it with a chaser of boiling water." No one-trick pony, he can inhale milk and cry white tears.
Former architect Gyuzo now works with a live scorpion. "He is well known for his uncanny ability to consume detergents, motor oils and other baroque digestives." A karate black belt and former insurance salesman, Nambu has apparently perfected his "firecrackers down the nappy" routine.
Last but not least was Sango, who swallows Marlboro Lights and is the acknowledged "Master of Krazy Glue" because he superglues a hammer to his jaw.
With music by Satoshi Nishikatta, Tokyo Shock Boys' American stage debut was produced by Murray Pope and Shuji Shibata and executive producer Arthur Cantor.
Of the Shock Boy's performing style, Shango says, "So far nobody's been killed or maimed. If you do something up to a certain point and you get laughs and no one gets hurt, that's great, that's what our comedy is. In our case, we broke the ice in our country, which is conservative, and while we're all scratches and scars from work, we are successful everywhere. We're apart from other comedians in our country."
Among the unafraid are model and talk show host Lauren Hutton, who visited the show three times and was even "vacuum packed" in plastic on her most recent visit.
To see just how apart they are, check their website, which is still online at http://www.shockboys.com. Warning: the site also describes several of the R-rated things the Boys perform in their act.
As for Gyuzo and his scorpions, if he's bitten onstage, as he was recently during a Royal Command Performance in Denmark, Gyuzo always finishes the show, sometimes his face swelling like a balloon and even turning green. Afterwards, he takes a dose of aspirin tablets, goes to bed for a couple of hours, gets up, plays Mah Jong with the other Shock Boys and feels 100 per cent. "The scorpion is maybe not so dangerous for me. I am thinking about swallowing it completely and then regurgitating it... but its not very tasty."
--By David Lefkowitz