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SDGs Grand Prix combines Comedy with United Nations Development Goals

2019/10/18 Event

On Friday October 18 Yoshimoto’s Gion Kagetsu theater in eastern Kyoto found every seat taken as a packed audience gathered for a night of humour designed to help convey the complex Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

The event, now a favourite at Kyoto International Film & Arts Festival, is dubbed the SDGs Grand Prix and sees five comedian groups compete with performances based on the 17 SDGs, with one comedian or group selected as the best comedy show.

The event opened with a song “Be Together” invoking the shared responsibility of society to help achieve the goals. But being a comedy event, the comedians playfully joked that SDGs means “Super Damaged Jeans” - until one pointed out that jeans begins with a j, not a g!

It was in September 2015, that the United Nations General Assembly in New York adopted the SDGs, which include goals for all nations globally to improve the environment, create a better life for all citizens and develop “a world full of smiles.”

With MC Kendo Kobayashi leading proceedings, the five comedians took to the stage wearing bright colored t-shirts emblazoned each with a “SDG”s logo. Each group had to choose 2 of the 17 goals to include in to their routine.

First up was EXIT, a duo dressed in young street gear based their routine on “Zero Hunger” and “Quality Education” (SDGs 2 and 4), while another dio, Akina appeared second, in sports gear, tackling SDGs 1 and 10, “No Poverty” and “Reducing Inequality”.

Wearing traditional dress, solo performer Kakusho Shofukutei used puppets placed on each leg while led on his back to introduce the concepts of Climate Action (SDG 13) and Life on Land (SDG 15).

Yuriyan Retriever, who once performed on Simon Cowell’s “America’s Got Talent”, came out next, playing Paper, Scissors Stone while tackling Quality Education (SDG 4) and Clean Water & Sanitation (SDG 6). Final duo Kamaitachi selected SDG 14 and 15, “Life Below Water” and “Life on Land”

Each routine is improvised as much as possible, with the winner chosen according to which conveyed the message of their selected SDG the best to the audience, with the winner announced as EXIT.

The ensemble groups then asked the audience what they have been doing to try to help with SDGs, and suggestions including reducing using straws coming from the crowd.

After the Grand Prix, a second section titled “SDGs New Comedy” launched, in which new members of Yoshimoto tell stories that introduce specific examples of SDGs, to make them easy to be understood by the audience as a familiar issue.

Performers in Part 2 included Yasushi Kawabata, Sutchi, and Ai Sakai.

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