Showko Showfukutei is a Japanese ventriloquist comedian and Rakugo* performer based in Melbourne, Australia. She has lived and worked in London, Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore performing at countless comedy clubs, arts & culture festivals, corporate and government events.
Showko was born and grew up in the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Kobe in Japan, where she graduated from Kobe Yamate University with a degree in psychology.
First Ventriloquist career
Sparked by a childhood interest in puppets and ventriloquists, Showko found an unlikely career opportunity at a local police station where she taught traffic safety using a ventriloquist puppet (yes, really).
After three years at the police station she decided to move to Canada to study English, where she immersed herself as much as she could (to the point of avoiding meeting other Japanese people!) so she could improve her English as quickly as possible. When lonely, Showko would listen to the radio (in English, of course), which ultimately influenced her decision to train as a professional radio announcer when she returned to Japan.
Professional radio announcer
Showko went to “Fame” announcing school in Osaka to train as a radio announcer, and just one year after graduating she was able to go professional, with regular programs at Radio Osaka, FM Uji, Yes FM and Beach Station FM.
Showko was offered an international work opportunity and relocated to Singapore where she worked as a radio producer and presenter for Media Corp’s FM96.3.
After a successful five years on radio, fate stepped in: Showko attended an event where she met Rakugo Master “Kakushow Showfukutei” and invited him to be a guest on her radio show. Her interest was triggered. Kakushow had adapted traditional Rakugo into his own style using handmade puppets, making it more visual and incorporating slapstick comedy. As soon as she saw how his performance could make anyone laugh regardless of age or language, Showko instinctively knew that this was what she wanted to pursue. She would quit her job and become a Rakugo performer!
Becoming a Rakugo performer
Is it as easy as that? No. Rakugo is a very male dominated traditional art form, and only a person who can complete training for three years under a Rakugo Master will be accepted as a professional Rakugo performer (many people give up during this hard training period). To be a professional Rakugo performer you have to ask a Rakugo master to become his protégé. Usually the master will say “No” ten times to see if the person has the passion, desire and guts to be a Rakugo performer. In Showko’s case she went through the same ordeal, but her time to convince him was limited as Master Kakushow was moving to London to be a cultural ambassador for the Japanese government. Not one to give up, Showko left her life in Singapore and flew to London one day prior to Master Kakushow so she could be there to welcome him at Heathrow Airport. Needless to say, with this level of passion, desire and guts on display, Master Kakushow was convinced and finally accepted her as his protégé.
Although Showko trained as a Rakugo performer in London for four years under Master Kakushow, it was during this time that Showko also developed her professional career as a ventriloquist comedian and performed at Covent Garden, at numerous comedy clubs, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Upon completion of the training, Master Kakushow bestowed upon her the 400 year old traditional name ‘Showko Showfuketei’ – Showko meaning ‘laughing child’ in Japanese, and Showfukutei being the name of her Rakugo ‘family’.
Professional Rakugo performer
Showko is one of only 1500 Rakugo performers working professionally, and is the only one to complete her protégé period outside Japan. Of these 1500, only a handful are women, and only one of these women lives overseas.
Like Master Kakushow before her, Showko has breathed new life into this traditional artform. Performed with a style that is uniquely her own, she combines it with a mix of modern stand-up comedy, puppetry and ventriloquism.
Professional Ventriloquist Comedian
After London Showko`s career as a Ventriloquist Comedian has flourished and she has been based in Osaka, Tokyo, Singapore and Melbourne while performing internationally on the comedy and festival circuit.
Showko was quickly spotted by talent scouts to be a regular performer for major cruise lines and she also wowed the judges as a finalist on Australia’s Got Talent.
Showko has gone on to become a popular performer on the festival circuit and live comedy scene. She is much in demand for corporate and government events as a ventriloquist comedian and also as a host who provides a unique and lively twist.
Due to her success overseas she has also been featured on dedicated programs for several major national and network TV stations in Japan.
*Rakugo is a traditional form of Japanese comedy storytelling with a history dating back 400 years.