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Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!The title literally translates as: "This is no task for kids!" They ain't lying.
This popular comedy/variety series was hosted by the popular Japanese comedy duo Downtown (Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada). It featured segments called "Batsu" (roughly translated to "Torture!" Is it any wonder a US network grabbed this one?) During each Batsu, there's a task or question that must be completed. For example, the challenge might be "do not laugh at something funny." Fail, and you are punished...with pain! Just like on "Everybody Loves Raymond"!
The punishments themselves get pretty creative, provided you have a taste for the diabolical. A dart in the butt may not be enough of a disincentive to keep a contestant from laughing, but that's a lesson they'll remember the rest of their life. Which will be pretty short if they don't start acing more of these challenges.
Downtown went on to host the series that inspired the MTV show "Silent Library," "Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ."
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EnduranceUnlike modern definitions of the word, the '80s Japanese show "Endurance" does not put competitors through a long and grueling set of trials. Rather, they're asked to complete several bizarre tasks all at once. Though the English-speaking announcers with southern accents don't state what the grand prize is, one can only assume it's "not dying." Although honestly, the "Endurance" survivors may very well envy the dead.
Take, for example, one episode in which contestants are given a bottle of hot sauce. To chug. Followed by having a hefty glob of spicy green mustard placed directly under their noses while wearing a nifty piece of headgear. (Spoiler: This causes some of them to puke. Both contestants and those watching from home.)
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