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Baron/Barkley Productions

Giants in Japan

Location + schedule

Gremlin Theatre
2400 University Av W

DateTimeMy FringeAccess
Thursday 8/55:30 p.m.  
Sunday 8/82:30 p.m.  
Tuesday 8/108:30 p.m.  
Thursday 8/1210:00 p.m.  
Saturday 8/1410:00 p.m.  
About the show

Contains Adult language
For ages 16+
Comedy, Satire, Relationships

Created by William Schaffhausen

Overall rating

Japan meets Minnesota nice. Our hero, salting the rim of business etiquette, meets the venerable Mr. Edioo. Laugh along as he mocks corporate values and creates "around the box" thinking in this one-man show.


Japanese business meets Minnesota nice. A one man show written/performed by William Schaffhausen. Traveling in the mid 1990's for a local fortune 500 company, William learns about Japanese cultural from his venerable business counter-part. Together, with help from business colleagues and a heavy dose of corporate folly, the two develop a relationship of teacher and student. Neither recognizes who is the teacher and who is the student. Experiencing multiply cultural differences, our dynamic due wade through the balance of business in a foreign country while salting the waves of business etiquette and face saving blunders. A storytelling, comedic genre, with original song and choreographed dance, William brings his extensive stories working in Asia-Pacific as a contracts negotiator for multi-national companies. His travels have taken him to remote locations in Mexico, and Asia, east and west Europe and beyond. With an eye for the unusual and a keen interest in storytelling, William has parlayed many of his experiences in the form of letters to home (which he wrote to himself on planes). A show made for anyone who has ever asked the question, “What the heck is my company thinking, and how am I going to implement these decisions?” This show is a lighthearted, warm look at relations among business colleagues in uncomfortable situations, and cultural enlightenment for a fresh faced twenty-something businessman. If you have ever worked for a company, this is your show!

William Schaffhausen
Role: Storyteller/Creator
A one man show written/performed by William Schaffhausen. William brings his extensive theatrical experience (8 plays - grades 1-8) and musical talent (He once wrote a letter to Van Halen expressing interest in the vacant lead singer position) to the stage!
William enjoys the characters of the world stage and takes note on each one he meets.

User reviews

Laughing IS the Best Medicine
by Julie deRosier-Paul Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Thanks Bill for a great hour of laughter. About 12 months ago I started working more closely with our International division and this was a much-needed chuckle. Your memories of your first trip were amazing; I felt as if I was right there with you. A great story told by a great storyteller!

Can't really recommend it...yet.
by TJ Hara Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
As a Minnesota-born Japanese-American four generations removed from "the old country", I love hearing about other people's experiences in Japan and comparing them with my own (limited) studies and experience of the country and its culture. As such, performer Bill Schaffhausen sounds like someone I'd love to have a Kirin and compare notes with, but his material doesn't yet seem organized enough for the stage. The show opens with an entertaining dream sequence, but one that's unrelated to the material at hand, and seems purpose-built to score some easy applause before the show proper has even begun. If it weren't for the time constraints of a Fringe show, this would be an engaging opening if it segued into the story to follow.

Schaffhausen shares a little of his background with the company that sent him to Japan fourteen years ago, and touches vaguely on some training he was given by them to do his job, but there's no real sense of his expectations going into the job, or of how they were confounded—my main issue was that there was no real sense of culture shock, and so no "hook" into the story. The overview above touches on a lot of interesting themes, but I didn't feel they were really addressed in the actual material presented. He does present a believable portrait of his Japanese patron, doing an impression that's entertaining without being too over-the-top, and finishes with a song that does nicely tie the show up.

I'd be curious to see all of Shaffhausen's notes of his travels to Japan…I believe there's a show in them I'd love to see, but perhaps one more selectively structured rather than a straight chronological accounting.

They're windmills, not giants.
by Nick Decker Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
It begins with an overwrought and overlong dream sequence that has no place in the narrative. It ends with a corny torch song, half of which is delivered in a vaguely racist accent.

What happens in between is actually a fairly interesting story about a young man’s first trip to Japan. William Schaffhausen’s recounting of ten days he spent there on business are descriptive, but there’s an empty feeling by the end of the narrative, as if something epic should have happened, but didn’t.

Just OK
by DeAnne Klein Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
The actor is a great storyteller. I just wasn't that interest in the story line. My husband is a world business traveler and although his stories are grand and hilarious at times, it is not something to hear in a show setting.

Live life, talk life
by Igor Blokhintsev Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I think that it is a wondefull story of dreams, corporate life, respect and success.
Most gentle fascinating story of a business trip experience of a young corporate manager.
Igor Blokhintsev

Giants in Japan
by Ann Arnold Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties

There are no giants
by Follow this reviewer
Rating 0 kitties
Come on guys lets be honest about this show. It's a guy talking about his trip to Japan years ago. He describes it as great, cool and neat. There is nothing revealing, interesting or entertaining about this dull travelogue. The people behind me moaned, "Oh MY God." They were praying for mercy. We all were.

Truely Entertaining
by Jim Chirpich Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Great show Mr. Bill and Mr. Ishio! The dream journey from Minnesota to Osaka and back again captivated me enough that I'm making a return trip on sunday. In line with the show's them I wish I could skip the kittie rating and instead give you 5 beers.

by Mike Crane Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Great oration on the trials of a young Minnesotan traveling to Japan on behalf of his company to find a better deal on a widget. Bill leads you through his experience via speech, songs, comedy and a kick ass Van Halen leg kick.

Funny? Yes! The greatest moments are when he details his thoughts on business through young eyes, brought me back to that age when I started my first “real” job.

Bravo Bill…5 Kitties for you.

Some wonderful laughs
by Eugénie de Rosier Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Three cheers for this first-time Minnesota Fringe Festival performer and producer. It takes courage, and Bill gave the appearance of relishing this role. The start is clever, as it leads the audience from a far-fetched beginning to the theme of his show – the humor and oft-times confusion about how to build international business relationships; but that sounds too stuffy for what the show is.

Schaffhausen’s impersonation of Mr. Ishio was amusing and convincing, and Ishio’s fondness for the East and SE Asian pastime of kareoke – whose requirements seem to be that the singer must be untrained, sing offkey and without full recall of the lyrics – was realistic.

The portrayal of an easygoing, young U.S. businessman, with his two older colleagues, floating in the hot springs of a spa – reminiscent of the Roman baths – with a backdrop of Japan’s mountains, was vivid. The American’s turning up of his nose to the raw chicken dinner and Mr. Ishio’s lack of understanding as why this would be unappealing to anyone, zeroed in on how partial we all are to our own nation’s food.

A fine first effort. Clap, hoot, enjoy some great laughs. Go see this show.

I forgot how fun it was to laugh!
by Brenda Folska-Mercil Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I went into this show knowing just what I had read on the web site. In the beginning I was very confused but laughed my way through the story line. Bill had so much energy and passion for this story. I felt like I was there with him in Japan eating raw food and drinking beer wondering what would happen next. I would recommend this show for anyone who has ever had a dream.

Awesome show
by Mark Folska Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I went into this show not knowing what to expect and Mr. Bill did an awesome job and was extremely funny while telling his story. The first five minutes of the show certainly gets you interested in what is to come. Awesome show and well thought out. A must see!

Giants in Japan is awesome
by Matt Folska Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I was able to attend Giants in Japan's opening night, and I was very pleased with the performance. I was very entertained by the hilarious look at corporate America and Bill's unique spin on our cultural differences with Japan. I would suggest this for anyone who has experienced corporate America or has any interest in International travel. Bill's storytelling and physical comedy is top notch. Plus Bill's "David Lee Roth" impression is second to none. Well done!