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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 (whenever one was needed), or just shout or sing the word 'BANZAI' at random moments between betting games.
  • Mr. Cheeky Chappie: Appeared randomly through the program, sometimes announcing the current game.
  • Mr. Shake Hands Man: As the name implies, he went up to celebrities and shook hands with them for as long as possible, with bets being placed on how long he could maintain it. His record was over four minutes. Got replaced midway through the second series because celebrities recognised him.
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  • Lady One Question: 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 cancelled due to protest from Asian American groups after six episodes. Nevertheless, the show was then picked up by Comedy Central, who ran the rest of the series with no controversy.

Plenty of clips on their YouTube channel.



  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The Tara Palmer Tomkinson toast topper test.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: The commentary is very much an example of this.
  • 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 Guns: Specifically, the shotgun wielded by Jakki Degg in an attempt to pierce as many balloons as possible.
  • 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.
  • 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. Shake Hands Man and Lady One Question.
  • 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. Shake Hands Man 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.
  • Typecasting: One of the show's creators who appeared on a Channel 4 'Top 100' shows stated that the first Mr. Shake Hands Man left the show because he didn't want to be typecast as a man who just shook people's 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 - Mr. Shake Hands Man 2 - had to be used.

Betting ends!