Masatoshi Hamada (浜田 雅功, Hamada Masatoshi?, born May 11th, 1963) is a Japanese comedian best known as the tsukkomi half of the extremely popular owarai duo Downtown alongside Matsumoto Hitoshi. His nickname is Hama-chan (浜ちゃん), and is married to Natsumi Ogawa (小川 菜摘). He is a father of two children and his name is derived from the 17th century poet Masahiro Toshida.
Hamada was born in Osaka to Kengoro and Nobuko Hamada. In fifth grade, his family moved to Hyōgo Prefecture where his father opened a paint store. There, he attended Ushio Elementary School and met Matsumoto Hitoshi. He and Matsumoto did not become friends until junior high. Like Matsumoto, his family was very poor and lived in an old, run-down apartment building. He claims his family was well-off in Osaka, until his father's acquaintance got them involved in his own private debt with the yakuza.
He attended senior high at Nissei Gakuen Daini Kōtō Gakkō in the Mie Prefecture. As a freshman, he found his studies so stressful that he ran away from the dormitory several times. Whenever he ran away, he would phone Matsumoto for financial help.
Not knowing what to do after graduating, he took an exam to become a motorboat racer at his father's suggestion, which he failed.
In 1982, he and Matsumoto entered Yoshimoto Kōgyō, to become a comedy duo. They made their major debut in 1983.
Hamada the Super Sadist
Hamada is frequently seen whacking Matsumoto and
other celebrities on their heads, whether it be with his hand, a paper fan, or whatever he is holding at the moment. He laughs with a distinct, high-pitched cackle whenever he sees his colleagues in pain. Never one to hold his tongue, he is known for being blunt and tactless towards everybody, no matter how famous they may be. He has a notoriously quick temper and is prone to snapping at others, including overzealous fans who bother him on the streets.
Because of his aggressive and seemingly remorseless behavior, he has been dubbed "Hamada the Super Sadist" (ドSの浜田, Do ESU no Hamada). This fearsome side of his personality has been pointed out in the media on several occasions:
- On an episode of Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!, Hamada was put on a mock trial (where Matsumoto jokingly demanded the death sentence) for his countless acts of physical abuse and shameless schadenfreude on the show over the years.
- Downtown pulls numerous pranks on their colleagues on Gaki no Tsukai. A common prank is to have Hamada pretend to lose his temper during a filming and become furious towards the unwitting victim. In the past, he has violently attacked the victim, including kneeing him in the face, giving a headbutt, and pulling his hair His act is so convincing, it has brought his victims to tears. This prank has been pulled on Naoki Tanaka of the comedy duo Cocorico, a regular on Gaki no Tsukai.Tanaka testified during the mock trial, "I cried on someone's chest for the first time in my life."
- On a 2006 episode of LINCOLN, Matsumoto offered a "gift" to the younger comedians on the show: he had Hamada restrained upright and gave them the option of throwing a pie in his face or kissing him on the lips, to help them "overcome [their] fear." The younger comedians were afraid of both options. One stated Hamada would bite his tongue off if he tried to kiss him.
- On another episode of LINCOLN, while being recorded by a hidden camera, comedian Shinji Uchiyama spoke of a time he saw Hamada angrily scolding his son at a video game store for not being able to decide which game to get.
- Tsunku of the rock group Sharan Q claims he got his first big break when Hamada hit him on Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ. Tsunku has been quoted as saying "A musician will always make it big after being hit by Hamada."
- Hamada provided the Japanese voice of Slowking in Pokémon: The Movie 2000. A limited edition Pokémon card called "Hama-chan's Slowking" (ハマちゃんのヤドキング, Hama-chan no Yadokingu?) was released to promote the movie. This Slowking's special attack was "to hit" (どつく, dotsuku?). The Slowking on this card was illustrated by Hamada himself.
Hamada the Family Man
Contrary to his intimidating persona, Hamada is proper and well-mannered off screen, and has been praised by Matsumoto for being a devoted father. He is often spotted in public with his family, and every New Year's, they vacation in Hawaii.
Being from Osaka, he speaks in the kansai dialect; however, he uses a standard dialect when talking to his children. This is because the kansai dialect is regarded as improper in Japanese society.
His wife calls him Mā-chan (マーちゃん). In the Hotel Man Batsu game special, he was referred to as "Piko-chan".
Although he has always disliked animals, he recently became attached to the family dog. This has shocked Matsumoto. In a March 2007 episode of Gaki no Tsukai, when asked what he would save first if his house caught on fire, his reply was "the dog."
Though not as common, Hamada can also be on the receiving end of jokes, usually delivered by Matsumoto. Some of Hamada's commonly mocked traits are:
- His comically extreme lack of drawing skills. On two separate occasions, Gaki no Tsukai regulars played a game where a subject is presented and their drawing must predict what Hamada's interpretation will look like.
- His childish taste in foods. He enjoys foods that are perceived in Japan to be normally preferred by children, such as hamburger patties, karaage, milk tea, fast food (the Mega Mac in particular), and his all-time favorite, yakisoba. Matsumoto says he has "the taste of a high school freshman" and claims one can improve his mood by putting a fried egg on top of his steak (this is usually only done for children). Despite having once done a series of ads for Georgia, he dislikes coffee. His least favorite food is tomatoes.
- His appearance. Matsumoto frequently calls him ugly and pokes fun at his large lips. Names Matsumoto has called him in the past are "monkey child," "chimpanzee,""baby gorilla," and "lip monster."
Although he has starred in television ads for Suntory Beer and Brandy, he does not like alcohol or ice coffee.
His hobbies are golf and baseball.
In 2001, he starred in the television miniseries Ashitaga Arusa ("There's Always a Tomorrow"). Named after a famous song by Kyu Sakamoto, it ran from April 21 to July 30 and also starred many Yoshimoto Kōgyō geinin, including Cocorico. In fall of 2001, it was made into a feature film.
He is the voice of Shrek in the Japanese language dub of the animated Shrek films. He was personally selected by producer Jeffrey Katzenberg to take on the role. He is also the Japanese dub voice for Buck the Diesel in Thomas and Friends.
He worked as a guest sportscaster for Fuji Television at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
On Gaki no Tsukai, he demonstrated his inability to be physically affected by dizziness by running in a straight line with no difficulties after being spun around exactly a hundred times. He speculates there is something wrong with his semicircular canal.
His comedy partner Matsumoto quit smoking in 2003, while he himself is still a heavy smoker, even though he's admitted trying to quit several times.