The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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An up-and-coming student comedian and member of POP3.
Winner of the Summer National University Comedy Championship!

Yu Onitsuka

Do you know the term “student comedian?” While attending university or technical school, the people called so are also committed to performing comedy; they lead a life in the spotlight, drawing serious attention even from entertainment agencies. Yu Onitsuka, one of these student comedians, is beginning his life as a professional comedian this spring. Although at first glance it seems like he’s off to a good start, you wouldn’t guess at the unimaginable dark times Onitsuka went through to look at his innocent-looking exterior.

The story starts during Onitsuka’s high school days. At a loss as to what to do after graduating, he came to believe he would find something to do with his life if he went to university and set his sights on the university entrance exams. “I started with a deviation from the student average of 29. I spent my days studying at home without going to a prep school, but in my first year as a ronin (a person who was not able to enter university and chooses to spend a year studying in an attempt to enter university again the following year), I totally failed the exam. In my second year, cancelled my cell phone contract and absolutely refused to go out even with my friends so I could further concentrate on my studies. Eventually, as my abilities grew, I decided to aim for Waseda.” During these dark times, Onitsuka’s only respite was the comedy programs shown on TV while he ate his meals. “Those shows cheered me up many times while I was leading that extreme lifestyle and the power of comedy really impressed me.”

Entering Waseda University after two years of hard study, Onitsuka decided that he now wanted to help someone else laugh and joined the then newly formed comedy group and official student club POP3. Even as Onitsuka began regularly participating in live comedy events, it never occurred to him that he might become a professional comedian in the future. What set Onitsuka’s heart on becoming a professional comedian was his experience coming into contact with the lifestyle of the senior entertainers and the passion of his classmates at an entertainer training school he had begun attending after a casual invitation.

At the Summer National University Comedy Championship, where the next generation of comedy superstars gather under one roof, POP-K3 fought hard and well to achieve victory.

“I met my comedic partner with whom I formed POP-K3 at the training school, but looking around, it was a world filled with talented people working themselves to the bone and I wasn’t sure whether I’d survive. However, the feeling that I would regret it if I didn’t try was stronger. As such, I decided for the second time in my life, since the university entrance exams, to give it my all. From that experience I learned if you pursue something to your very limits, a path will open up before you.”

Onitsuka stoically polished his material from morning to night. “I know that we would go farther and faster if we established our own original style of comedy than if we used a style similar to that of our rivals.” Setting out on their path, gradually their efforts came to fruition, eventually leading to last year’s victory in the Summer National University Comedy Championship. Achieving first place in a live performance at the entertainer training school from among approximately 100 groups, they were rewarded with an official contract with a major agency.

Onitsuka’s immediate goal is to increase his fame as a comedian. However, he is also thinking about working even harder on the activities of his student club in this, his last year as a university student. This is because he wants to repay the club that helped raise him as a comedian. To start, he’s organizing the Warasai comedy event at the Waseda Student Culture and Art s Festival held in June. In addition to POP3 where he serves as secretary-general, official Waseda comedy student clubs Waseda Yose Engei Kenkyu-kai and Owarai Koubou LUDO participate in the event. “This will be the first event in Waseda’s history where all three official comedy student clubs participate together. Come enjoy Waseda’s comedy!”

POP-K3 on stage. Their high-speed comedy, born of Onitsuka’s high-tempo and will-timed quips, is part of the duo’s appeal.

Live performances at the entertainer training school; performers are evaluated on individual ability regardless of who is senior or junior.

Onitsuka also actively participates in Waseda events to help increase the quality of comedy in the University.


Yu Onitsuka
4th Year, School of Social Sciences

Originally from Chiba, Yu Onitsuka graduated from Showa Gakuin Senior High School. Besides serving as secretary-general of the POP3 comedy group (an official student club), Onitsuka is also a member of Watanabe Entertainment through the POP-K3 comedy duo. He can also be found on Twitter (@oni_uuu)!