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Boke and Tsukkomi Routine

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Now just do that with 50 different jokes and you got a Manzai act!note 

Aori (Callie): The contestants are: the one who throws out words like curveballs — the "Boke"! And—
Hotaru (Marie): The one who calmly hits them right back! The "Tsukkomi"~
Splatoon (Japanese localization)

Called manzai in Japanese, this is the local variation on the ever-popular Straight Man and Wise Guy duo, but with the interactions of the duo making a significant part of the routine. The tsukkomi is the Straight Man of the pair, roughly, while the boke is more or less the Wise Guy — but it's not an exact match. The act usually involves the duo having a conversation on some subject, with the tsukkomi trying to correct the boke's misconceptions; the tsukkomi will sometimes try to have his partner act out a scene with him in order to help make his point. The boke, meanwhile, sets up the gags by getting everything completely wrong, either because he's a moron or because he's being a smartass to the tsukkomi. Every line of conversation repeatedly leads up to the boke saying or doing something unbelievably stupid, at which point the tsukkomi will finally lose his patience and Dope Slap him (usually with a harisen paper fan). A good manzai act needs both halves of the duo to be funny, both for the boke's idiocy and the tsukkomi's short temper.

It is common in Osaka so both members of the comedy duo frequently speak in Kansai-ben (which is why the boke has popularized The Idiot from Osaka). Manzai teams commonly dress in one of two ways: 1) similarly tailored outfits with complementary color schemes; 2) one (usually the boke) wears casual clothes, and the other (usually the tsukkomi) a respectable business suit. Ironically, the most famous manzai duo of all time, Downtown, reversed this — Hitoshi Matsumoto, the boke, always wears a suit and tie (albeit with the tie tucked neatly into his trousers beffiting the boke buffoonishness), and Masatoshi Hamada, the tsukkomi, always wears something casual. (They're also pretty much single-handedly responsible for the equation of Kansai-ben with funny characters.)

When the characters do this purposely to impress, it's not supposed to be very funny and no one will laugh, despite good intentions. When someone is the tsukkomi for an entire cast, they're probably also the Only Sane Man. When someone is a boke for the whole cast, they're probably also a Cloudcuckoolander. Of course, it's frequent in a show with a large cast to have a character that is both the boke to one person and tsukkomi to another.

A very similar routine, the 'White Clown/Red Clown' skit, is pretty popular in Russian live comedy shows, with the Red being the boke and White being the tsukkomi.

Can be Those Two Guys. Compare Right Way/Wrong Way Pair, Smart Jerk and Nice Moron, and Enraged by Idiocy.


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  • Lampshaded in the Japanese version of the Mac & PC commercials. By maintaining the outfits from the US version, Mac has inadvertently become a casual-clad Tsukkomi while PC is the formal-wearing Boke. Given that these two actors form the comedy group Rahmens, this may have been deliberate. A few of them can be seen here.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The wannabe comedy duo in Akahori Gedou Hour Lovege, Love Pheromone, are a straightforward example of this. Mostly.
  • In an episode of Angelic Layer, Kaede entertains guests at a victory party by performing both parts of the routine with herself as the tsukkomi and Blanche as the boke.
  • Attack on Titan references this in the second guidebook, referring to Beleaguered Assistant Moblit as the "tsukkomi" to his Mad Scientist squad leader, Hanji.
  • Shows up in Azumanga Daioh quite often.
    • Tomo occasionally demands to be the "boke" to an utterly unsuited Osaka's tsukkomi, and Yomi (who is eminently suited) has played that part at least once. During Tomo's first New Year's dream, the roles end up being reversed between her and Yomi, something that Tomo gladly takes pleasure in (implying that she's secretly insecure about constantly being the "boke" in her peer groups).
    • Osaka was once asked to do this with Miss Yukari and was asked which person should take which part. She asked Yukari to be the boke, prompting Yukari to bop her. As Yomi stated, "So it begins..."
    • Chiyo unintentionally acts as the tsukkomi to Tomo once and gets berated by her and Osaka for doing so.
  • B Gata H Kei is essentially one big manzai routine between Yamada and her best friend Takeshita. Whenever Yamada bugs her best friend about something sex-related, Takeshita is there to smack her (verbally and/or physically).
  • Black Lagoon features this in an omake, which has Yukio and her classmate rehearsing a manzai for school, though the classmate is clueless. Yukio's bodyguard Ginji has two members of the Washimine group perform an example, but when it's time for the tsukkomi to smack his partner, he actually clocks him hard enough to knock him down. Unfortunately, the boke is of a much higher rank in the clan and doesn't really understand the concept of slapstick, so he punishes his subordinate off-screen with knuckle dusters. Disturbingly, Yukio is quite amused, and Ginji thinks that's how Manzai is supposed to go. Later the police arrest the whole lot, and it's revealed Yukio's partner attacked her with a crowbar in the middle of practice because she feared that the act would get violent again.
  • Bleach:
    • Ishida and Pesche did this when they were forced to team up. Pesche is acting stupid on purpose, though.
    • Less explicitly, there's also Hitsugaya to Matsumoto, Sui-Feng to Omaeda, Ichigo to Kon (with Rukia), to his Dad (with Karin), to Keigo, to Urahara, and to Nel, Hiyori to Shinji & vice versa, Nanao to Kyouraku, Maki-Maki to Yachiru, etc., etc. With so many characters, it's no surprise there's a lot manzai duos in Bleach.
    • In Souls, the Bleach character book (for the manga), a short omake chapter has Mayuri Kurotschi discussing this with Nemu, while both wear stand-up comedian suits — however, Kurotschi is taking "tsukkomi" in its alternate Japanese meaning of the verb "to stab" and is apparently looking forward to the part where he gets to stab Nemu. Then again, this is Mayuri Kurotsuchi we're talking about; he doesn't seem content to produce anything less than half of the horrors in the entire series.
    • Around the time Ichigo first used his Bankai, one Omake held a manzai routine with Ichigo as the straight man and Ganju, Orihime and possibly someone else as the comic counterpart. The entire think was based on similar sounding words to Bankai and manzai (such as banzai and sempai), in sentences that are worded so as to be self-referential humor and correct. Surprisingly, this skit of Japanese wordplay was brought over in the dub. The important words were explained in a series of rapid-fire notes but left untranslated.
    • This series loves it enough to use it in a 100-year flashback. Both Shinji and Urahara with Hiyori, Kensei with Mashiro (which continues in the present), and Shinji with Aizen.
  • Megumi and Miki in Cheeky Angel frequently refer to Souga as "boke", and there are several joking references to Megumi being his tsukkomi, including an actual Hyperspace Malleting with the Paper Fan of Doom.
  • Digimon Fusion of all places have this. And it was done during the Defrosting Ice Queen episode for Nene...with Akari.
  • Discussed as part of Chapter 10 of Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro. Nagatoro wants to act this out with Senpai. Notably she puts herself in the Boke role, subtly showing that she mostly means her teasing and bullying of him as a joke, and wants him to stand up for himself and give retorts back. It goes horribly wrong at first, though Nagatoro manages to salvage it. And then Senpai ends up slapping her boob.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku and Krillin unintentionally do manzai for a crowd in Dragon Ball, much to the latter's embarrassment.
    • About three decades later, Vegeta would later become Goku's tsukkomi in Dragon Ball Super.
  • Eyeshield 21 has this as a lot of its humor. Hiruma tends to play a sneaky boke to his team, though almost everyone on the team has their boke moments. Kakei and Mizumachi are this pretty much all the time.
  • Occasionally happens in Fairy Tail. Natsu take the boke role while Gray, Erza or Lucy are the tsukkomi.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Hot-Blooded Tasuki and his best friend Kouji go into these sometimes.
  • Saki's willingness to be the Genshiken tsukkomi is treated as a Running Gag throughout the series. In the manga, the Genshiken members even make her a Paper Fan of Doom.
  • In Get Backers, Emishi and Amon pull off a number of these. (The first involves Emishi trying to describe the appearance, by comparing her to various celebrities, of a woman he's never met; in the second he insists on the existence of "stomach trilobites" to the point of drawing one on his abs in marker...)
  • Gintama is basically a series of boke and tsukkomi routines. The characters even describe their own interactions as such.
  • In a typical bit of self-reference, Haré in Haré+Guu said that, since he is the show's Tsukkomi, he is not good at telling funny stories.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Haruhi's and Kyon's actions toward one another appear to be a version of this comedy routine, at least in the first volume of the light novels and the first season of the anime. Haruhi makes some outlandish remark, and Kyon comments on how it doesn't makes sense, often to himself or someone else.
    • Playing on the Anachronic Order in which the anime's episodes were first broadcast, the next-episode announcements at the end of each show of the first season are a compressed boke-tsukkomi exchange between Haruhi (giving the number of the episode in chronological order) and Kyon ("correcting" the number according to the broadcast order and stating the episode title).
    • Emphasized even more in the gag spinoff Haruhi-chan, since in this particular series, every character undergoes intentional Flanderization. Haruhi-chan gives us a second duo in Yuki and Achakura, with Yuki's Comically Serious actions making her the boke.
  • Sakuya Aizawa from Hayate the Combat Butler more or less views life as a non-stop series of gags and comedy routines, frequently treating the unwitting Hayate as the boke and viciously assaulting him for any number of completely nonsensical reasons (mainly for being really bad at being a boke) whenever she makes an appearance. Her antics, in turn, often set her up for the boke role whenever Nagi is nearby, who answers attacks on Hayate in the name of comedy in kind.
  • The author of Hetalia: Axis Powers calls England and Japan's relationship as such, though he adds that he's not sure who is the boke and who is the tsukkomi.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: The fight between comedian Fumihiko Takaba and Kenjaku culminates in them performing a manzai routine to a studio audience, courtesy of the former's Cursed Technique. Hilariously, despite Takaba usually being the one pulling off-the-wall jokes, their performance has him playing the tsukkomi to Kenjaku's boke.
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: In middle school, Raimu "Rairi" Kouno took advantage of her apelike face by filling the "Boke" role opposite her classmate Yuu Okada, who filled the "Tsukkomi" role. We don't hear any specific joke they made at this time, but a panel showing Okada giving a sheepishly grinning Rairi a Dope Slap makes it obvious what they were generally doing.
  • When she returns from Japan in Kaleido Star, Sora gives Anna a set of manzai props (a Paper Fan of Doom and an idiot mask) as a souvenir. Anna then immediately tries to get Ken to play boke to her tsukkomi. Ken is not thrilled by the idea.
  • In one episode of K-On!, Yui and Azusa enter a show on their own, and start their performance with actual manzai, with Yui as the boke, mostly utilizing malapropisms but also by "forgetting" what they were going to play, and Azusa as the fan-wielding tsukkomi, correcting her.
  • In a strange example from The Law of Ueki+, this trope is actually part of a character's Dark and Troubled Past, where he was badly injured while practicing one of these routines and his partner left the city without him, so he stopped believing in friendship. This character is otherwise completely serious, and upon the other characters being told about this, they decide to proceed to use Brain Bleach.
  • The premise of Lovely★Complex is the budding romance between Huge Schoolgirl Risa and The Napoleon Ootani, who has trouble seeing Risa as anything more than his partner in their boke and tsukkomi routine. Everyone calls them "All Hanshin-Kyojin," after a famous tall & short manzai comedy duo, and the show even takes place in Sakai, Osaka with everyone speaking in a Kansai dialect, just to drive it home.
  • In Love Roma, Hoshino's relationship with his girlfriend Negishi mainly consists of him saying or doing something stupid and her slapping him for it. In one scene he mentions their romance is like a boke and tsukkomi routine. She's about to agree when he mentions he's the tsukkomi and she's the boke.
    Negishi: *thinking* I'm the boke?!
  • A Running Gag in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's omake comics has Hayate being portrayed as a master of the Boke and Tsukkomi routine due to having a Kansai dialect.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT, an alternate Lighter and Softer continuity, the Big Bad of the first season, Precia Testarossa, is the boke, and the Big Good of the first two seasons, Lindy Harlaown, is the tsukkomi. The reason why it works so well is that Precia is both a Doting Parent and Amazingly Embarrassing Parent, unlike her incredibly monstrous Evil Matriarch portrayal in the original series. While Lindy is a very friendly and nice person who never gets particularly angry in the original series, Precia's various antics and sudden disappearances in their workplace just to see her (cute) daughters pisses Lindy off in this continuity. Hayate can also be counted as the boke to Dearche's tsukkomi.
  • Maria Watches Over Us does this in the Post-Episode Trailer a couple of times.
  • Rina and Ranfa do an impromptu boke and tsukkomi routine when they run into each other in a Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch episode.
  • Chapter 7 of Mononoke Sharing has Kuro try to form a comedy duo with Yata, noting that she's the only tsukkomi in the house.
  • Dr. Manelger and Itsy-Bits from Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On, before their character profiles were replaced by those of the Season 2 antagonists, were expressly described as having this kind of relationship on the anime's official Japanese page. Lilia even asks if they are such a duo upon first meeting them and seeing the way they interact.
  • Naruto: Sakura, occasionally Sasuke, tends to play the tsukkomi to Naruto's boke.
  • Very common in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, mostly due to lead girl Asuna's weaponized Paper Fan of Doom.
    • Setsuna also seems to be able to convert her tanto weapon to a fan at will whenever she wants to Dope Slap someone (specifically Chao whenever she makes a Sarcastic Confession about her many affiliations).
    • And then there's Chisame, who wishes she could give everything the tsukkomi treatment so very, very badly. Chisame takes on this role physically when dealing with Jack Rakan although most of the time it's usually a knee to the face instead of an actual fan (He could take a Nuke and probably not feel it). They make (made) a very good team.
    • In Akamatsu's earlier work Love Hina, Mutsumi's...different way of thinking is based on the idiot half, with Naru or Keitaro providing the straight man's reaction.
  • Nodame Cantabile has a notable gender-flip of male-on-female variant played for laughs the same way it would if female-on-male. Tsundere Chiaki often resorts to violence Cloudcuckoolander Nodame does something that annoys him. Nodame herself even admits to playing up the role since Chiaki is the perfect Straight Man.
  • Odd Taxi has the comedian duo Homo Sapiens. Shibagaki plays the boke while Baba plays the tsukkomi, but unfortunately their act is really bad. This is largely due to the fact that their personalities are the opposite of their designated role, with Shibagaki being loud and boorish while Baba is meek and slightly dim. When they go off script and let their actual personalities show, they end up being quite funny.
  • In Motto! Ojamajo Doremi, former SOS Trio member Sugiyama forms this act with straight-A student Ogura as rivals to the new Trio. Helped along by Aiko (who's from Osaka), Momoko finds them as stupidly hilarious as Hazuki does for the other team
  • This is a good part of One Piece's humor. A character will say or do something completely absurd and act like it's no big deal, while someone else will flip out. About half the crew tends toward one side and the other half to the other, so even when the crew splits up, each subgroup will almost invariably contain characters with a tendency toward boke reactions and at least one tsukkomi.
    • A fan once counted every single instance of this trope by Straw Hats and sent the results to an SBS. Usopp is well ahead of everybody else, having taken the role of Tsukkomi, as of Zou Arc, a whole 458 times. In the years since the number has only swollen.
    • A more literal example would be the interaction between One Piece Film: Strong World's God Created Canon Foreigner villains Shiki and Dr. Indigo, who, apparently, have been doing it for over 20 years.
  • Break and Sharon have elements of this in PandoraHearts.
  • In the "Tower of Terror" episode of Pokémon: The Series, the Ghost Pokemon trio (Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar) are first seen watching such a routine on TV.
    • When Team Rocket accidentally capture Brock's Lombre (they were aiming for a Mawile), Wobbuffet appears to Lombre and they do a bunch of random slapstick skits in the process, all in Pokémon Speak. Funnily enough, it was Wobbuffet, the biggest idiot in Team Rocket, who was playing the tsukkomi. What does Meowth have to say? "A really bad comedy routine".
    • In the Diamond and Pearl saga of the Pokémon Adventures manga, the goal of the two main characters is not to be great Pokémon trainers, but to be great manzai performers. They take a chance to practice their act in every chapter.
  • Pretty Cure:
  • The Prince of Tennis:
    • Doubles partners Hikaru "Dabide" Amane and Harukaze "Bane-san" Kurobane from Rokkaku frequently pull these off. More often than not, boke Dabide makes some rather bad word puns, and tsukkomi Bane kicks him on the head as a punishment. That even happens during matches, where Bane slaps Dabide across the face if he's slacking.
    • In the Senbatsu arc of the anime, Amane is paired up with Oshitari (who is an Osaka native) in doubles. He attempts to pull the other into a similar dynamics...only to make the always calm Oshitari lose his temper. It's theorised, however, that Oshitari may not be that upset, just playing the tsukkomi role relying on verbal insults rather than physical violence.
  • In Ranma ˝, Kasumi occasionally tries to pull off a sequence of these jokes playing both parts herself.
  • In The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World, Tougo is the Boke to everyone else's Straight Man as they react to his Stock Shōnen Hero antics and strange weapons from another world while explaining concepts to him. Idola is the most frequent foil to Tougo, and she's shocked when Misty barely shows any reaction to Tougo's Transformation Sequence.
    Tougo: [after getting a lengthy explanation about mana-metal] In other words, you're trying to protect the bond between magic and people!
    Idola: Um, yeah. I think that's somewhat close to what I meant.
  • In episode 7 of Sailor Moon, two female classmates of Usagi's develop this act for a talent show, which turns out to be set up by the Dark Kingdom to harvest the Life Energy of aspiring stars.
  • Maria in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei once spent far too long time watching Boke and Tsukkomi and started slapping people who were looking dazy...on the first day after New Year's Eve!!
    • Not to mention she tended to make people A Twinkle in the Sky...And then, because it's that kind of show, she joined a secret Boke and Tsukommi underground political organization note .
  • A brother-sister variation occurs in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman with Jun (serious big sis) and Jinpei (smartass kid).
  • This is the major dynamic with the cast of Seitokai Yakuindomo.
    • Usually it's Takatoshi to play the tsukkomi of Shino's perverted remarks. Ranko even notes that without Takatoshi there to tsukkomi, Shino has no one to play off.
    • When Takatoshi takes a leave, Shino or (primarily) Suzu will take center stage, depending on who's boke.
    • Even Suzu makes note of Takatoshi's absence when she's the only one left to take up the role. In an OVA episode, Suzu actually suffers physical and mental fatigue being the designated Tsukkomi when Takatoshi was absent from school for one day from an illness.
    • And, after Kotomi enters Ousai, Toki, the only member of the cast without the slightest hint of perversion.
    • Kaede goes Oh, Crap! when she realizes that because Takatoshi and Suzu are both on their second year trip. She has to Tsukkomi for the student council which includes Kotominote .
  • Senyuu. is more or less centered around this type of comedy, with Alba acting as the "tsukomi" and pretty much everyone else being the "boke". Lym also fills the "tsukomi" role in volume 3.
  • On Sgt. Frog, Natsumi frequently refers to Keroro as boke-gaeru (usually translated as "stupid frog"). Episode 18 of the series involves Natsumi being turned into an adult and given a Kansai dialect by Kururu's latest inventions, so she can perform manzai in a beauty pageant/comedy contest.
  • Sket Dance is one giant Shonen-style boke-and-tsukkomi routine. Although all of the Sket Trio can be any of the two roles depending on the situation, Bossun and Himeko are able to pull off this act masterfully, even in their everyday interactions with each other.
    • Chiaki Takahasi pointed this out when Bossun met Himeko for the first time.
    • In one chapter, Bossun and Himeko partnered up on the spot during the closing round of a live Manzai contest. Their flawless performance eventually gave them the win against their cheating opponent.
    • Himeko once participated in a TV show pitting two pro or amateur comedians against each other in an "all-out tsukkomi clash", delivering line after line of loud comedic reactions to see who was the superior tsukkomi.
  • In Strawberry Marshmallow, Miu is the boke, while her usual tsukkomi is Chika. In one episode, Chika's trying to concentrate on homework, but Miu wants to know who'll be the straight man for her antics. She tries to get Matsuri to play the role instead, but she's too "boring" for it. Her other common tsukkomi is Nobue, Chika's older sister.
  • In an early episode of Twin Princess of Wonder Planet Gyu!, Fine and Rein meet a girl named Lemon who comes from a planet where everyone is into comedy, and wants to team up with them for a manzai act. She tries to be the boke, even though she's more suited to be the tsukkomi, and eventually she tells them that she quit being a tsukkomi after she hit her brother (her old partner) so hard that he fell unconscious and quit comedy for good. Later, her brother confesses that he didn't actually faint, he just realized that he couldn't be a good enough boke for her, so he stayed down.
  • The Voices in the Dark story "Ghosts of Prime Time" features a profoundly unfunny duo who force the audience to laugh via possession, some of them dying from the strain.
  • Koganei (a newscaster) and Amasawa (a weatherman) from The Weatherman Is My Lover have a strong manzai dynamic together which creates much of the appeal of their program, as the audience is waiting for the moment Koganei will crack.
  • Kunogi Himawari of ×××HOLiC misinterprets Doumeki and Watanuki's constant arguments as an attempt to be a humorous Boke and Tsukkomi team.
  • Yowamushi Pedal: Ashikiba Takuto and Kuroda Yukinari are a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine duo. Izumida refers to the two as this, asking if they're "done with their manzai act" during a race.
  • In Yuyushiki, Yuzuko and Yukari act as a dual boke, with Yui as the tsukkomi.

  • The Smothers Brothers made a career out of this.
  • The late Porkchop Duo of the Philippines zigzagged this trope: after every joke, the roles of boke and tsukkomi get swapped.

    Fan Works 
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kanae and Kunikida think that Yanagimoto and Taniguchi are trying to invoke this while dating.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Lyra and Bon Bon often have this kind of relationship with Lyra being the eccentric jokester boke who often draws the ire of Bon Bon's grumpy tsukkomi.
    Bon Bon: (Sighs) What color are—
    Lyra: Blue!
    Bon Bon: Well— first of all that's not true! And—
    Lyra: Are you saying I'm... ... ... a lyre?
    Bon Bon: (Sighs)
  • One of the welcome surprises resulting from Shinji And Warhammer 40 K is the Rei-Asuka comedy duo. Rei is the boke, while Asuka, perhaps understandably, thinks "tsukkomi" is some sort of bizarre Japanese perversion and refuses to listen whenever someone attempts to explain it.
  • Mentioned at one point in Tales of the Undiscovered Swords where Shokudaikiri loudly complains about having to play tsukkomi to the rest of his team when they try to disrupt their own mission. Doubles as Only Sane Man.
  • Touhou Project:
    • The Touhou M-1 Grand Prix is a long-running manzai competition between the girls of Gensokyo. This is a play on the real-life Autobacs M-1 Grand Prix. The prize for the 3rd iteration was to have the winning pair overwrite Reimu and Marisa as the main characters; Reimu and Marisa won.
    • YouTube has some Fan Vids of Touhou characters acting out some of these skits. Most memetically pleasing is the one where Hong Meiling (playing the Boke) tricks Patchouli (unwitting Tsukkomi) into a very embarrassing Chop Chop Master Onion sequence.
    • The Scarlet Tsukkomi Routine has Flandre and Cirno pull a fast one on Remilia by trying to cast Cirno (the ultimate Boke) in the role of a Tsukkomi.
    • Another notable mention goes to Utsuho and Rin's routines, which can be summed up as Utsuho being Utsuho, Rin being unable to keep up with Utsuho's stupidity using intelligence alone and eventually ending up outright corpsing during a discussion about a corpse and opium.
    • Yuyuko and Youmu are known to do this in Canon, most infamously in Imperishable Night where Big Eater Yuyuko implies that after defeating Mystia she ate her. She didn't. While Yuyuko is just acting, Youmu isn't. Poor Youmu.
  • Vulpine has Naruto point out how, unlike the other Akatsuki teams, Kisame and Itachi don't seem to have a theme. Itachi reveals his sense of humor by declaring that it's a "Bokkenote  and Tsukuyomi routine".
  • Invoked in A Young Woman's Political Record. Tanya acts as the Tsukkomi and Visha as the Boke during a presentation for the World Cup.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The French live-action movie Bluebeard has a scene where the two little girls narrating the story come to the part where the heroine marries Bluebeard... and then they start arguing over what "marriage" means. The younger girl plays the boke in this bit, while the older girl plays the tsukkomi.
  • Laurel and Hardy: Stan is the Boke and Ollie is the Tsukkomi consistently throughout their films, especially after they started making talkies and could do more verbal comedy without needing title cards. Since Stan is a Ditzy Manchild, he frequently says incorrect and stupid things which heavily exasperate Ollie, who always proceeds to demonstrate that he also has very little of a grasp at what they're trying to do. In fact, it's a Running Gag in their films for Ollie to make a frustrated Aside Glance while Milking the Giant Cow after Stan does something stupid or sarcastically repeating whatever lunacy Stan just uttered and punctuating it with his trademark "HMPH!" Take this exchange from Sons of the Desert:
    Ollie: What does the thermometer say?
    Stan: ..."wet and windy".
    Ollie: THAT'S A BAROMETER![knocks it out of Stan's hand]
  • The Three Stooges is the strongest example of this comedy routine in the United States. With the boke being Larry, Curley and Shemp always making some kind of crazy claim and getting smacked around or beat up by Moe who is the tsukkomi of the group.

  • Bakemonogatari's often odd dialogue centers around the main character Araragi as the tsukkomi and the other person in the conversation as the boke. Whether or not the boke is acting as such intentionally is a matter of debate.
  • Codex Alera has this dynamic going between High Lords Antillus and Phrygius. Antillus makes remarks that are hilariously self-evident or embarrassingly wrong, Phrygius sighs, rolls his eyes, and gives him the ol' Dope Slap. Made even more hilarious by the fact that both men are in their fifties, insanely powerful furycrafters, and belong to the top echelon of Alera's political elite.
  • This is a regular occurance between Sousuke and Kaname in Full Metal Panic!, with one of Sousuke's school nicknames even being "War Boke". Later on, Sousuke finds himself as the tsukkomi to Al's boke, an irony not lost on Sousuke's coworkers.
  • Inaho of Girls Kingdom set this up with her Seraph, Haruka so that they're always doing a Manzai with Inaho as the Boke and Haruka as the Tsukkomi, complete with hammerspace paper fan. Now if only they were funny, even in universe...
  • It varies depending on the chapter, but most conversations in Hands Held in the Snow involve Emi being extremely silly and Beatrice having to set her straight. Sometimes Tia gets to be the Wise Guy to Emi's Straight Man, but it's usually Emi's Adorkable awkwardness turning her conversations into dumb comedy routines up until things get cute and romantic.
  • Rei of I'm In Love With the Villainess explicitly says this is the bulk of her and her love interest Claire's interactions, Rei being the Boke, constantly, openly declaring her love for Claire, and Claire the Tsukkomi, rebuking her advances, punishing and verbally abusing her, and being disturbed by how much Rei sincerely enjoys it. Claire eventually returns Rei's feelings, but the dynamic still stays.
  • The Pet Girl of Sakurasou has Mashiro and Sorata, an Idiot Savant and her Cloudcuckoolander's Minder, doing the boke and tsukkomi respectively. Many of Sorata and Mashiro's conversations end with Sorata freaking over Mashiro's latest outrageous line/act.
  • Referenced in the Calibur arc of Sword Art Online; as the group runs down a long set of stairs to Jotunheim, Kirito points out that they should be grateful for it since it's the quickest way there. Sinon snarks that he's talking as though he's the one who built the stairway himself, and Kirito quips, "Thanks for the tsukkomi" before pulling her tail.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Downtown, possibly the most famous manzai duo, could be considered a subversion nowadays, having shifted from the rigid manzai to a more fluid conversational style of humor.
  • The Autobacs M-1 Grand Prix is an annual manzai tournament, sponsored by Yoshimoto Kogyo (the largest jimusho (artist management company) in Japan) and broadcast on Asahi TV. Many of the most prominent Japanese comedians of the last ten years came into the public's eye through their appearances in the competition.
  • Takeshi and his advisor Ishikura from Takeshi's Castle would often partake in a boke and tsukkomi routine. Elements of this were retained when the show was turned into the gag dub Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Yuto and Deneb do this in Kamen Rider Den-O, though Deneb is more naive than stupid, and Yuto, as a Jerkass, tends to overreact badly.
    • More explicitly, the Kamen Rider Decade stage musical (yes, it exists) has several imprisoned Riders doing it to kill time. The Hoppers (complete with gigantic bowties) try it out, but then, lampshading the Kansai part, Den-O changes to Ax Form and does a bit alongside Ohja.
    • In the Kamen Rider Kiva net movies, Kengo and Wataru practice one of these, and it goes over as well as you'd expect.
    • Sento and Ryuga in Kamen Rider Build. Sento makes some seemingly funny remarks about the two together, but Ryuga constantly proves Sento wrong.
    • Aruto and Is from Kamen Rider Zero-One have this dynamic, which takes an ironic twist as Aruto’s preferred style of comedy is screaming a Pun with No Indoor Voice, yet no one in-universe sans Fuwa finds his Pungeon Master routine funny. Aruto’s most legitimately funny moments are when he’s playing the straight man to Is, who defies Don't Explain the Joke consistently to describe his wordplay, much to his frustration. The YouTube special makes this a plot point, as Comedian-type HumaGear Fukkinhoukai Taro—who was the Victim of the Week/Monster of the Week in the first episode that replaced Aruto after he lost his comedian job—initially refuses to entrust his Soul Jar to Aruto when Aruto loses the joke competition between them, but relents after seeing that Aruto’s true comedic strength lies in being the tsukkomi.
  • Super Sentai
    • In Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Ryuunosuke and Genta's interaction borders on this. Lampshaded when they actually do a manzai routine to amuse the others at New Year.
    • In one episode of Tensou Sentai Goseiger Hyde and Gosei Knight used such an act to cause the Monster of the Week to laugh, which causes his powers to turn against him. Their biggest problem is that both of these characters lack a sense of humor.

  • Jinnai Tomonori performs a variant of this called Netajin. He takes the role of the Tsukkomi, and the Boke is a malfunctioning or bizarre game, device, or recording. Since this adds a visual side to the comedy, his routines are much easier to translate than many Manzai.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the WWF, This was the schtick of legendary announcer duo of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon, beginning when they were first paired up in 1986 and lasting until Heenan left the promotion in 1993 (appropriately thrown out of the building in his last appearance by Monsoon). Together, they were the very first heel/face announcing tandem to do comedy, as opposed to Monsoon's work with the more serious Jesse Ventura, interacting as much with each other as the action in the ring. Often, the Brain would say something obviously biased or obviously untrue in support of a heel wrestler, with Monsoon reacting with an exasperated "Will you stop?". This formula has been copied by the WWE for their announcing teams ever since, now, more than 35 years since they debuted as a duo (and tried by various other promotions to varying degrees of success). This trope could well be called the Monsoon-Heenan routine.
  • The tag team of extreme Cloudcuckoolander Al Snow and badass martial artist Steve Blackman. Snow insisted on calling the team Head Cheese, based on the fact that Snow carried a mannequin head around with him and he had Blackman wear a block of cheese on his head.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Many of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's routines use this dynamic, with Right Hand Sock as the tsukkomi and Left Hand Sock (the one with the dopey tongue) as the boke. For instance, the classic "Halloween" sketch:
    Right Hand Sock: It is the spookiest night of the year... October the 31st... Halloween!
    Left Hand Sock: Hello! name's not Ian.
  • The Japanese version of Sesame Street has two Muppets like this. Bert and Ernie are also known to play this, possibly the best-known Western example.


  • In the Tsukiuta stage plays:
    • Kai and You do these routines often. You is also known as being the tsukkomi character to the whole cast - Often, he'll give a tsukkomi response to something, and another character will step even further away from the topic at hand to lampshade You's tsukkomi with amazement.
    • ... and then there's Mutsuki-kun. In every play, there's a scene where Kakeru runs into the mysterious boke character Mutsuki-kun who is totally not Hajime (he's played by Hajime's actor, but with glasses. It's funny because Hajime is just about the opposite personality.) They do an improv scene where Mutsuki-kun is given a random prop and presents it to Kakeru as the solution to his problem. Often, "special guests" from the rest of the cast will join them. This has been in every entry in the series, except for Rabbits Kingdom, which was going for a more serious tone.

    Video Games 
  • In an optional minigame when Koh visits the Monsbaiya Theater in Azure Dreams, he can be roped into playing the tsukkomi to one of the regular performers' boke.
  • Bungo to Alchemist:
    • Most special Combination Attack dialogues, but especially those between Decadent writers, among whom is Oda Sakunosuke who is a Kansai accent speaker.
    • Shūsei and Kyōka's dining room recollection, with Kyōka acting overly germophobic while unamused Shūsei dryly comments.
  • Solt and Peppor from Chrono Cross display this kind of interplay during their boss fights. In fact, when we meet their Home World versions, they are doing this routine as a comedy duo on Fargo's ship.
  • Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly: When Lucas rebrands his show into a talent showcase, he asks Riona to be his co-host because her reserved yet talkative personality contrasts his chaotic nature.
  • Devil Survivor 2, another Mega Ten game, gives you the option of doing one of these in all Hinako's Fate route conversations. The protagonist is the boke, and Hinako (who is from Osaka) cheerfully plays along as the tsukkomi.
  • In Ensemble Stars!, this is the specialty of Subaru and Makoto, the self-proclaimed 'idiot duo'. Usually, Subaru takes the boke and Makoto the tsukkomi, but Subaru often likes to mess with him by giving him ridiculous set-ups that Makoto struggles to find a come-back to. And in the Main Story, 2wink train Hokuto into loosening up by making him perform manzai acts; usually, he's more likely to just call Subaru an idiot when he tries to drag him into his bits.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Keaton and Kaden are this, respectively. What's interesting is that Keaton is sharply dressed (like a tsukkomi) in contrast to Kaden's more casual appearance.
  • Jak and Daxter do this routine in certain situations. Upon setting out for a mission, Daxter will often make a complaint or dry remark about how dangerous it, whereas Jak focuses on the task at hand.
  • At the prologue of the third The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Kevin Graham and Dorothy's first meeting has this routine, the topic being Dorothy keep mistaking Kevin's first name for "Onion" and "Jasmine" to which he plays along at first before correcting her. The kicker is, Kevin has Kansai dialect in the Japanese version.
  • In Legend of Legaia, Gala ends up acting as a stand-in in one of these routines. He's quite naive and his religion forbids laughter, so he makes a perfectly clueless boke.
  • Mother 3 features a pair of would-be comedians who practice boke and tsukkomi routines (Their names? Bud and Lou), as well as a paper fan that lets you cure party members of confusion by whacking them on the head.
  • Mutant Football League features Brickhead Mulligan and the Garrulous Growth on his shoulder, Brickhead Jr. Jr. often acts as the Tsukkomi, not afraid to point out Brickhead's stupidity.
    Grim Blitzrow: Hi, Grim Blitzrow here, along with my partners Bricks and Bricks Jr. How're you guys doing?
    Brickhead Mulligan: I'm doing that little hottie who does the deep fry at the concessions!
    Brickhead Jr.: He said "how", not "who", you idiot. Even if you did get the answer right!
  • Nikkō Bosatsu from Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA- is very into manzai and as such speaks in thick Osaka accent and often pesters others into forming a duo with him.
  • In the Japanese PS3 version of Ni no Kuni, fairy comedians Smiley and Surly are this kind of comedy duo. (In fact, all fairies seem to be Kansai-accented comedians to the point where their souls are literally made of comedy.) In the dub, although there's still shades of their manzai roots (they still have an obvious Straight Man and Wise Guy dynamic, and they decide to act out a scene), it's been localized as a dry British comedy-style sketch in the vein of Monty Python.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, if you have Maya and Yuki contact a demon together, they'll do one of these, with Maya as the boke. Notable example: "Did you know that when a tsunami hits it can send you and your family on a trip?" "That's not what they mean by 'it sends you packing.'" One example, however, is based on misinterpreting Japanese characters:
      Maya: Oh, yeah! I was just reminded that I found this interesting dish at a ramen shop!
      Yukino: What's so special about it?
      Maya: It was "Tonkatsu ramen"! I've never heard of it before. I wonder if anyone would really eat soup with deep-fried pork in it.
      Yukino: Er, Maya... I think it was "tonkotsu" ramen.
    • In an extra segment for Persona 3: FES, the main character and one of his classmates, Kenji, act out an impromptu comedy routine. The response the player chooses for Kenji's setups determines whether you are a master of Japanese humor or not.
    • Also, Jack Frost and Pyro Jack have a fusion spell where they do a Boke and Tsukkomi routine with the effect of knocking down all enemy shadows.
  • In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, one of the scenes unlocked by linking with the original Black or White version is Skyla reminiscing about a conversation with Elesa in which the latter was considering changing her image. The examples Elesa gave of how she could become more approachable clearly cast herself in the role of the Boke, although Skyla didn't really get it, and so did not make a very good Tsukkomi.
  • The WiiWare Sega title Pole no Daibouken is an unusual example of this: the entire game is the boke, what with all the weird and zany gags, and the narrator is the tsukkomi trying to be the foil to all the insanity.
  • Two birds, a crow and a vulture, perform this as one of the endless minigames in Rhythm Heaven Fever, which is appropriately just called Manzai (often nicknamed by fans as Manzai Birds)... But only in the Japanese version. The translators found the minigame too pun-riddled and culturally specific to find a way to translate it so they were forced to give up. As a replacement, they included an update of "Mr. Upbeat", a game from the original Rhythm Heaven, in all other versions of Fever.
    • The translation of the first game has a reading material where two of the Toss Boys do this as well.
  • In Rune Factory 3, Pia and Sakuya have one to attract customers.
  • Splatoon: The comments that the Squid Sisters make during newscasts often resemble this routine, with Callie acting as the Boke and Marie as the Tsukkomi. In particular, many stage announcements follow the formula of Callie stating something ridiculous and Marie snarking at her for it. Boke vs. Tsukkomi was actually used as a theme for the Splatfest event in Japan. As an added bonus, their appearances in Splatoon 2 onward even reflect the traditional boke-tsukkomi dynamic: the goofy Callie dresses more casual or flamboyant, while the stern and serious Marie opts for formal wear (be it modern or traditional).
  • Tales of Berseria has Magilou do her best to invoke this with her Magilou's Menagerie skits. Unfortunately for her, she's the resident Butt-Monkey, and with her anti-heroic teammates, it doesn't work out. The closest to success is when Eizen of all people decides to be the boke; unfortunately, he's too scary for the audience to laugh.
  • Per Word of God, the main protagonists of World of Final Fantasy, Reynn and Lann, are specifically intended as this, with Lann as Boke and Reynn as Tsukkomi.
  • Yakuza:
    • Yakuza 2 has a substory where you meet a guy who's fallen out of a boke and tsukkomi duo, where his jokes don't land and his friend gave up on comedy. When the two meet again, they realize they're a lot better off with the roles switched and reunite as a comedy duo.
    • In Yakuza 5, Haruka gets roped into playing the tsukkomi to an acquaintance's boke during his audition for a comedy show. It's not a very fondly remembered substory due not only to the player having a very limited time to select the proper response to the boke, but also having to interject at precisely the right moment, which is quite hard to do.

    Visual Novels 
  • Pretty much the core comedy dynamic in the Ace Attorney line of games. Your sensible but put-upon attorney plays the tsukkomi for their usually Cloudcuckoolander boke sidekick. Additionally, the same dynamic carries into the courtroom with the judge and loony witnesses, and the roles trade off fluidly between the prosecution and the defense in each game.
    • Tomoya Okazaki and Youhei Sunohara are basically a manzai duo, lampshaded by Yukine Miyazawa. Most of the time, Tomoya is the tsukkomi and Sunohara is the boke, but they often switch roles, depending on the situation. However, Tomoya is the one who is in control of the gag scenes.
    • Both the Visual Novel and the anime, Tomoya and Kyou try to teach Kotomi how to perform a proper tsukkomi. Sadly, the poor girl has boke written all over her face, and she regularly ends up on the receiving end of a tsukkomi immediately after attempting her own. At one point, she expresses the desire to become a great manzai performer. Both Nagisa and Ryou motivate her to work for her goal, but Kyou and Tomoya are quick to point out that all three of them are boke to the core.
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Monokuma makes Monomi join him in one of these routines, forcing her to play the unwitting tsukkomi to his sneaky boke. This isn't just about Trolling her or putting on a performance; he's luring her and their audience off guard so that he can reveal she tampered with their memories without her realizing what he's doing until it's too late.
  • Fate/stay night's Tiger Dojo, which you go through every time you screw up and die and get a Bad End, is set up much like this. Taiga Fujimura, the leader of the Dojo, is the resident tsukkomi, with Illyasviel von Einsbern being the resident boke who often has to be whapped upside the head with Taiga's shinai when she says something insensitive, unproductive, or stupid (such as calling the nightmarish first bad end of the game a "cute and pop genocide of love").
  • Happens quite often in The Fruit of Grisaia. Usually, being the serious guy he is, Yuuji plays the tsukkomi, especially when talking to Makina or Michiru, though between his habit of interpreting situations as what they might have implied if he were at work, and his tendency to be a total smartass, he often plays boke as well.
  • There's an extended reference in Kanon during Mai's route. As the local Emotionless Girl, she has trouble expressing herself. Eventually, she gets embarrassed by Sayuri's teasing and bonks her on the head, leaving Yuichi and Sayuri to stop in utter shock. 'She...she played the tsukkomi!' She continues this throughout when feeling nervous. Sayuri and Yuichi get hit a lot because they find it hilarious to see Mai do that.
  • Little Busters! has a couple of examples:
    • At one point in the main route, the characters are trying to entertain Kyousuke. Haruka suggests that she tell a joke and that Mio provides a tsukkomi. The joke itself is rather weak... and then Mio provides an absolutely devastating response, pointing out how terrible the joke is and giving her performance 5/100, while thunder cracks ominously in the background. Then Mio pauses and half-heartedly gives the line Haruka asked her to give in the first place, complete with light tap. Kyousuke is unmoved.
    • At another point, one of Rin's instructions given by the mysterious person is to perform a tsukkomi on Masato. As a Tsundere who normally performs the tsukkomi role you'd think it'd be simple, but Rin is impatient and more willing to just kick Masato rather than give a funny response or actually wait for him to say something boke-worthy. This leads to a minigame where the player has to quickly choose a tsukkomi-worthy response for Riki to suggest to Rin before she just kicks him and yells something generic.

    Web Comics 
  • In Bits Fair, Ananda always plays boke and turns somebody around her into the tsukkomi, be it her mother, miss Hira, or Irya. Occasionally, Irya joins Ananda in being a boke and then Hira plays tsukkomi to both the kids.

    Web Animation 
  • The bulk of the humor in The Misadventures of R2 and Miku comes from Miku's impulsive, unwise actions and R2's irritated reactions to them.
  • The basis for how Super Planet Dolan functions. The format goes that a question about an anomaly in the world is asked by a viewer, and two answers are given. The first answer comes from Dolan, who gives a completely nonsensical answer based on the wording of the question, which devolves further and further into mayhem. The second answer is given by his cohost (usually Shima Luan or Melissa Morgan), who calmly and formally explain the actual answer to the question with evidence to back it up. Sometimes, at the end of questions, Dolan will end up getting into further debates with his cohost.

    Web Original 
  • The various talents of hololive can work either role as it suits them when they collaborate with each other, but they and their fans recognize Oozora Subaru as the group's premier tsukkomi.
  • Jake and Amir, with CollegeHumor employees Amir Blumenfeld and Jake Hurwitz playing the roles of boke and tsukkomi respectively.
  • Mike BurnFire: Anytime guns are involved, Mike plays the boku to Zach's tsukkomi.
    Mike: Did the Germans or the Russians invented [Mossberg 590]?
    Zach:'s an American shotgun.
    Mike: Oh, so it was made by Heckler and Weston?
    Zach: No, it was made by Mossberg! Where are you even getting this from?
  • MST is technically a form of this, with the work being riffed being the boke and the riffer being the tsukkomi.
  • Title Pending: Cameron is usually the rational one and takes things seriously, while Bayden is proactive and comes up with crazy ideas Cameron lampshades. During the signing of the contract the two's roles swap.

    Western Animation 

Waldorf: Personally, I never could get behind Japanese comedy.
Statler: Why not? Better than being in front of it!
Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Manzai, Dumb Guy Smart Guy Comedy Act, Boke, Boke And Tsukkomi Routine


Haru and Haru

One of the many substories in Yakuza 5 has Haruka get embroiled in the world of Osaka comedy. She plays the Tsukkomi to Haruo's Boke, and the player has to pick the right options to keep the conversation going. Many Dope Slaps ensue. And if the player does especially well, Haruka will whip out a Paper Fan of Doom from Hammerspace, a classic Tsukkomi weapon.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / BokeAndTsukkomiRoutine

Media sources: