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San Francisco Fringe 2022

Pretty Beast

Kazu Kusano

Genre: Dramedy, Solo Performance, Storytelling

Venue: EXIT Theatre, San Francisco


Low Down

When schizophrenia and alcoholism collide in one Japanese family, comedy becomes her superpower–and ticket to freedom. Award-winning comedian KAZU KUSANO takes audiences on a rebellious comedic journey deftly navigating mental illness, sexism, and love. With storytelling as raw as it is inspiring, Kazu celebrates overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of your dreams


Kazu Kusano bursts onstage with her trademark energy! She is physical and lively as she takes us through her journey from Japan and her life as a Japanese schoolgirl, then teenager to her current life.

Humor is a way or healing and Kusano uses it as her way of getting past her life with cultural and stereotypical limitations to expressing her true self. This is a story about her struggles to fit in and how becoming a stand-up comedian was the unexpected answer to everything!

Kusano is physical and tells witty stories and reenactments of pivotal moments in both Japanese and English. Her gestures and full physicality are vivid and impactful throughout the show as she uses the entire stage space, tells many short stories, does eccentric dance riffs, a short song and shares her life in an entertaining and endearing way. You can not fail to take note, however, there are other sides to this story and we are easily drawn in by not only her well crafted performance but also her personal experiences.

Witty and full of sharp observations of life such as a mother with depression, repression of emotions in her life and cultural dance/drama lessons growing up, Kusano’s astute crafting and storytelling skills make this a fascinating show.

Kusano has very good timing and sense of pacing and flow of her show. Topics have contrasting sides and blow hot and cold from cultural differences. An example is a story about her grandmother telling her bedtime stories that is funny and surprising at the same time. Kusano plays characters from her life, including her father, with short pieces of music that introduce them in an upbeat and sometimes poignant way.

Her fascination for comedy started when watching Saturday night comedy shows on television when young and she regales us with details and vibrant comments about typical growing up experiences, in her way. Kusano is personable, her story is moving and the performance is well received by the audience.

She tells us about her heroes and many adventures, disappointments, and about how she fought gender stereotypes to follow her dream. Kusano is vibrant and charming and we are easily drawn to her performance, which runs the entire range of emotions, told through humor, poignance and searing sadness.