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Series / Banzai

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Play at home fun! From the land where anything is truly possible comes new gambling opportunity. Place your bets now, it's time to play... Banzai.

Banzai was a Channel 4 program spoofing Japanese game shows with its unorthodox methods of entertainment, from how long it takes to masturbate a turkey to how many balloons are needed to make a chicken fly. It spoofed Japanese culture in general with its three main presenters:

  • Mr. Banzai: Played by opera singer Masashi Fujimoto, he would appear as the MC, when one is needed, or just shout 'BANZAI' at random moments between betting games.
  • Mr. Cheeky Chappie: Appears randomly through the program, sometimes announcing the current game.
  • Mr. Shakehandsman: As the name implies, this man goes up to celebrities and shakes hands with them for as long as possible, with bets being placed on how long he can maintain it. His record so far is over four minutes. Gets replaced midway through the second series because celebrities recognised him.
  • Miss Onequestion: Another literal example, she would go up to celebrities, ask one question, and then stare at them without saying another word. Bets were placed on how long it would take the celebrity to walk away.

With random silliness, and featuring celebrity cameos during the bets, Banzai ran for four series from 2001 to 2004. In the United States, it had a brief run on FOX in 2003 (these were Americanized and removed references to British culture and celebrities) that was canceled due to protest from Asian American groups after six episodes, and was then picked up by Comedy Central, who ran the rest of the series with no controversy.


Plenty of clips on their YouTube channel.


  • Aliens Made Them Do It / Mate or Die: One bet consisted in asking Peter Davison if he had to have anal sex with one of the other living actors who played the Doctor on Doctor Who in order to save the Earth from the Daleks, which one would he pick. (His answer was Sylvester McCoy much to the bewilderment of the announcer).
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Tara Palmer Tomkinson toast topper test.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Subverted. The Japanese text shown throughout the program means nothing.
  • The Cameo: Celebrities appearing as themselves.
  • Catchphrase: "Place your bets now", "Betting ends", and "What else we got?!"
  • Cool Old Lady: If you allow yourself to take part in a game of chicken with your motorized wheelchair and a fellow granny, riding the same vehicle, you earn this trope.
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  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Title fun, as one Japanese symbol goes up to another, and starts making sexual noises. A moment later, three smaller symbols pop out of the bottom of the 'female' symbol.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Mr. Shakehandsman.
  • Funny Foreigner: All the presenters, specifically invoked.
  • For Science!: Whenever animals are involved, it is a 'scientific experiment' and the animal is 'thanked for its sacrifice for the good of science'. Even when it doesn't float into the air and we don't see what happens to it.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Which of five lingerie-clad Lovely Ladies has the pickled onion in her mouth after 60 seconds of kissing and cuddling. Compered by Valerie Singleton, no less. Outstanding!
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Sometimes a title is shown before a game, then that title will be hit by a ninja star, with ninja music and stock scream effect, before dying to become the real title.
  • Once an Episode: Mr. Shakehandsman shakes the hand of a new celebrity each episode. Subverted in one episode, however, as one attempt at shaking hands resulted in a time of 0.05 second. They gave him a chance to redeem himself in the same episode.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: A lovely cute little chicken attached to balloons and floated into the sky.
  • Russian Roulette: Two variants were used for the Wheel of Misfortune segments where players spun a wheel with six spaces.
    • One had spring-loaded umbrellas on each space. Five were deactivated and one wasn't. Players took turns picking an umbrella after spinning and pushing the umbrella's button against their faces. If a deactivated umbrella was picked, the game continued with the remaining spaces in play. The contestant who picked the working umbrella lost and came out with a bruised chin.
    • In the other, two players picked between spaces which had hair mousse cans. After picking, each contestant had to aim the nozzle in their noses and then press. A broken can continued the game, and the loser was the one who had a nostril filled with mousse.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Subverted. There is nothing really cool about throwing cigarettes at your mouth and missing.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Squirrel fishing involves two squirrels, two scientists, two pieces of string and two nuts as bait.
  • Too Soon: Production was halted for one episode after it was leaked that the show was going to use a speed gun to measure the speed of the funeral procession for the Queen mother. The process was interrupted before they could record it.
  • Typecasting: Word of God- from when one of the show's gods appeared on one of Channel 4's Top 100 shows- states that the first Mr. Shakehandsman left the show because he didn't want to be typecast as a man that shakes hands. Really.
    • The reason given in the show, though, was that he was being recognized by celebrities who refused to shake his hand and ruined the whole thing, meaning a new person had to be entered.


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