Laughter from a different perspective
Rakugo distinguishes itself from other comedy traditions by focusing on our imperfections as human beings. Through these stories, we learn to accept our flaws to live more light-heartedly, therefore more fully with less baggage.
In my opinion, Talking About Rakugo 1: The Japanese Art of Storytelling is the most comprehensive and accessible book on the subject of rakugo that has ever been written in the English language. If you want to have an overview of this storytelling tradition, including its history, themes, and techniques, this book is a one-stop shop as an addition to your library. Click here for my detailed review. The book includes 16 rakugo scripts in English.
Once you are ready to perform rakugo yourself or simply to be entertained in the fantastic world of rakugo, Eiraku’s 100 English Rakugo Scripts Volume 1 is the next step. This book curates 35 of the 100 rakugo stories from diverse genres including comedy, fantasy, surrealistic, human interest, and even historical stories. The author, Kanariya Eiraku, is the founder of the English Rakugo Association.
This is the sequel to Talking About Rakugo 1. This volume digs deeper into the world of rakugo, introducing some rakugo superstars and “nisei” (the second generation) performers. Those who are interested in the basics of rakugo, I recommend the first book. Just like Volume 1, it includes interviews with some performers who perform rakugo in English (and French!) and 8 rakugo scripts by Kanariya Eiraku in English.
Fallen Words: A Collection of New and Original Rakugo Stories is a compilation of 5 new and original rakugo scripts on a variety of themes. This work is truly revolutionary because the author, Ohkubo, is the first non-Japanese professional writer to publish rakugo scripts in English in the 400-year history of rakugo. This collection will be counted as one of the “English Rakugo” classics in the future. For more detailed review, please click here.