This article examines a particular form of highly collaborative conversational humor that is commonly encountered in Japan. It consists of ritualized humor sequences co-constructed by the participants in interaction who adopt complementary stereotypical character roles, closely resembling the boke (‘the fool’) and the tsukkomi (‘the straight man’), the two characters in contemporary Japanese duo stand-up comedy manzai. Using recordings of naturally occurring conversational interactions between two close friends who habitually make use of this form of humor, the study illustrates the patterns that the participants follow when engaging in the construction of humor sequences, indicates the regularities in their timing and sequential positions, and considers the functions that they seem to fulfill. It also draws attention to the importance of intertextuality and repetition in the successful achievement of this form of humor and discusses the relational implications and consequences of its use.
The Gakushuin Journal of International Studies 7 41-69, 2021-03