This evening, the Japanese Association of Greater Philadelphia is putting on what they believe to be the first Rakugo event in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Ethical Society (1906 Rittenhouse Sq.) starting at 7PM.
Rakugo is a Japanese storytelling format that is believed to have begun in the 18th century. The lone storyteller (Rakugoka, 落語家) sits on stage and with only a paper fan (扇子, "sensu") and a cloth (手拭, "tenugui") as props telling a comedic story from multiple points of view. The story usually ends with a final punchline called an ochi (落ち, lit. "fall") or sage (下げ, lit. "lowering") that is the culmination of the entire tale. Because everything leads up to this final laugh, its a significant amount of commitment on the storyteller's part to "setup" the punchline.
Naturally there are Rakugo performances on Youtube and here's one from California:
Sanyutei Kyouraku and Sanyutei Jinraku from Toyko will be performing tonight (with English subtitles) and tickets are still available.