Last Sunday I had the chance to check out the Blue Man Show in Tokyo, Japan. I remember seeing these guys on the Intel commercials in the U.S. back in the late nineties/early 2000s. They were so strange looking, that you couldn’t help but pay attention to them. Much like the Cirque du Soleil, it’s one of the shows I’ve always wanted to see, but never really got a chance to do until being here in Japan.
Just before the show, I made my way to my seat, where there were plastic ponchos for everyone in the first couple of rows. I thought “Uh oh…what are those for?” The show started off with the these electronic marquises displaying messages to the audience. It was all written in Japanese, so I wasn’t able to catch everything. I guess those electronic kanji & hiragana were moving just a bit too fast for me (I’ll learn them eventually, though). One of the things I did catch was that the audience was prompted to cheer for everyone who had a birthday that day. After the signs stopped there was an announcement saying that the show was about to start.
Spotlights lit up the large, light-colored screen at the front of the stage revealing the shadows of each of the Blue Men. They were dancing, head-bobbing, and playing their instruments. The shadows made them seem almost larger than life. When the screen lifted, a band of musicians dressed in these strange outfits added an invigorating, rock-and-roll kick-start to the show. NICE!
When the rock and roll music ended…all lights beamed to center stage where the Blue Man Group who they were wearing black welding masks, with the eye-windows lit. They lifted the masks to reveal those brilliantly blue faces that have been the group’s hallmark. One of trio began by playing these lit drums. The other two Blue Man would pour this bright-colored liquid on the drums as the center one was playing. The result was when they would play, colors would splash into the air. One blue man got pink-colored stuff all over his face, and the other two Blue Men just gave him a wide-eyed stare. I think they did this for about 3-5 minutes. I was impressed with how they could engage an audience with something so simple without saying a word. Their facial expressions made this little skit, and all of the skits the did really engaging and funny. Like they did a cereal eating segment, where this mic-enhanced crunching sound would help them to make a “cereal rhythm” in unison. WEIRD!
My Favorite Things About the Tokyo Blue Man Show, 2011
Without telling you everything about the show (if you haven’t seen it), the highlights for me were 1) audience participation, 2) super-creative instruments 3) comedy and 4) banana paste.
Whether it was having an audience member come on stage to eat with them, giving out a weird souvenirs, throwing marshmallows into the crowd, having audience members hold props (I had to hold two flashlights), etc., the audience was a big part of the show.
The instruments were probably my favorite part. The Blue Man Group had some odd, but cool-looking instruments. They used PVC pipe for the instruments I liked most. There was this big xylophone made from a network of different-pipes. Almost like cross between a xylophone and a pipe organ. There was paint inside of the tubes and when a black light was shone on them, it brought out these flourescent pinks, greens and yellows, it was a cool effect. There was also another strange-looking instrument that required all three Blue Men to use it. One person would tap a pipe with drumsticks, and the other two would have to manipulate the pipes in order to change the pitch. It looked something like this:
Let’s face it, comedy really reaches people, always has, and probably always will. Comedy was a big part of the show, and there were too many instances of it to really cover it all. One example though was, when a couple walked in late, one Blue Man too a spotlight and shined it on them for almost two minutes. The couple was displayed on the big screen, while this operatic voice sang the word “OSOI,” (おそい which means late in Japanese) over and over again.
I know this one is a bit strange, but there was this paste that the Blue Men shot out of their chests near the beginning of the show. The paste had a light banana smell to it. It smelled like a banana smoothie for rest of the show. It was really quite pleasant. I was craving bananas for the rest of the day
The Downsides of the Tokyo Blue Man Show, 2011
Hmm…there’s not a whole lot to say here because the show was a lot of fun. But if I had to say anything, one downside would be that I couldn’t read some of their signs because they had some kanji that I’m unfamiliar with. Being in Japan, though, I can’t really fault them for that. The other downside of the show (for me anyway) was that it started to drag in the later parts.
The Blue Man Group would also make mistakes during the show. However, because of weird nature of the show it was extremely easy to overlook the mistakes…except for one. I watched the Blue Man Group on Jay Leno (or one of those late night talk shows a long time ago) and they did one demonstration with marshmallows which looked so cool on TV. One Blue Man would throw marshmallows at another, and I do mean A LOT of marshmallows. Another Blue Man would catch them in his mouth and proceed to make sculpture with the marshmallows…USING HIS MOUTH!
At this show, after throwing marshmallows to the audience, they did the same marshmallow catching routine. But much to my disappointment, the marshmallow sculpture fell over . Drat…
My Final Take on the 2011 Blue Man Group Show
All in all, I’d say the Blue Man Group show was good, not great, but good. It was an entertaining show based on the utterly nonsensical, light improv, a heavy humor. I am glad that I can finally say I went. HOORAY!! Would I recommend it? Yes.
BLUE MAN GROUP PICTURES, TOKYO, JAPAN 2011
Have you ever seen the Blue Man Show? What’s your favorite thing about the show?
p.s.-I always wondered how the Blue Man Group Members were able to stay so blue during the show. I think it’s combination of reapplying paint when they’re off stage and the rubber they’re wearing on their heads.
p.p.s.-If you’re in Tokyo, I’d say the show is worth checking out. Don’t expect it to be the best show of your life, but DO expect to be entertained. Here’s the Japan website: