The Tokyo comedy scene is full of stand-up, improv and more, but there is nothing quite like Perfect Liars Club: four people, one liar, and as many questions as the audience can manage.
Started in Washington DC back in 2013 with sell-out shows and fantastic reviews, the interrogation comedy show has landed in Tokyo with a bang. Perfect if you consider yourself a bit of a Sherlock, it combines storytelling, comedy and elements of the Spanish Inquisition to create a surprisingly fun and friendly night of entertainment. With a love of spoken-word events and of the childhood game Spot the Liar, the two Brits behind the show, Layla and Roz have since moved across the globe bringing their show with them—much to our delight. Held in Shimokitazawa’s best comedy club Good Heavens, the launch show was a success, with plenty more lined up.
If you’ve ever seen Would I Lie to You, this may be familiar, but if you haven’t, fear not, since it is a nice simple premise—as the best of them are. Four storytellers take to the stage in a random order (determined by audience members and a hat) telling tales of love, horror, adventure—or ideally misadventure—uninterrupted and without limits. The audience may be silent, but the cogs should be turning, with any incongruities, conveniences or vagueness to be mulled over and saved for later. The liar’s story must be entirely false, but the teller can use elements of their real life and real places, or alternatively, they can fabricate everything if they like a challenge.
During the short interval for suspect discussion and drinks (the perfect partners), expect to make new friends: everyone is keen to chat about that kiss or the lack of one, the Spanish-speaking mystery traveller or the chainsaw incident. When you’ve shared conspiracies, it’s back to the stage where the suspects are lined up, ready for questioning, before a final vote and the grand reveal.
The suspects and their stories
So far, suspects have included a world champion university debate public speaker, improv comedians, as well as a lawyers and the British Ambassador—all introduced in the show’s standard 8-word intro, giving away just enough but not too much.
The stories offered border on the improbably to the ridiculous, but thanks to practice and coaching – it’s hard to tell them apart. With tales of seagull attacks, near-drownings, penguin-murder and escaping mafia parties using limbo skills, there is no telling what you’ll hear and even less so what you’ll believe.
So misadventure is the key, you see, and it was an excellent one, opening the door wide to critique and questioning. With these tales of danger and drama in equal measure, you can tell that the questions are vital in determining the liar among the innocent-unfortunates.
After the interval, the host hushes the audience, and asks for the questions to begin. At this point, it could be one of those awful moments at school where no one moves, eyes are averted, there’s an awkward cough…but no! Hands shoot up every time and questions are fired with unforgiving and brutal speed, varying from minute detail-checking, medical queries, procedural qualms, even cries of “show us your feet!”. They are all met with answers, some slicker than others, and definite murmurs of appreciation from the audience. We even had our own Poirot-esque damning challenge in the past of “You said you hate birds, so why does your bracelet have an owl on?!”—which was met with such cries of delight that Agatha Christie herself would have been on her feet, accusing finger raised defiantly.
After a barrage of questions, some convincing answers, some less so and lots of debate, the votes were cast, and the liar makes themselves known.
The verdict on the show itself is definitely more convincing. With a warm, friendly and exciting atmosphere, it is a genuinely enjoyable evening, and everyone we’ve met has agreed. The teamwork element is so unlike other shows, and the sharing of conspiracy theories, high fives on questions and fiery debates means no one is left out.
Photograph the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, wander around the curious and quirky love hotel hill, visit Yoyogi park and Meiji shrine...
Whether you go with friends or alone, this night is ideal for meeting people and joining in (but fear not, intentional loners, if you want to give off an air of mystery with a well-timed and damning question offered from your corner seat, whiskey in hand, that is still an option too).
The show is usually held on the first Thursday of every month and tickets go on sale at 1pm on the day after the previous show. Since the first show was a sell-out, and judging by the grins on the faces of everyone leaving, it will be from now on—I would book to avoid disappointment.
If you would like to participate, you can fill in the form here, send a Facebook message or a tweet! Whether you’re a natural born liar or a total innocent, Layla will help you with your story and make sure you enjoy the show as much as everyone else.
The next shows are as follows: February 9th, March 16th, April 13th and May 11th.
Our video guide to the tuna auctions at the shiny new Toyosu Fish Market