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Sushi Class is a Joke: My journey to bring humor into the sushi class

Netflix is a joke.

You’ve probably heard of this before. When I heard this, I said, “So is sushi class.” 

I use a lot of jokes during my sushi classes. 

Some of the yelp and Google reviews say, “Kaz is funny and hilarious.”

Am I really that funny, and how did my sushi classes become a “joke”?

Let me share the “funny” story in this week’s newsletter.

"It's the same class for the past ten years. Same jokes."

This is one of my new opening lines for the sushi class.

Over the decade of teaching the same class, I have created many punchlines that work. Some class attendees think “Kaz is funny” and “hilarious.”

All of the Breakthrough Sushi staff know I am neither funny nor hilarious when I am not teaching sushi class.

I consider the “Kaz is funny” persona as my sushi class instructor's act. The goal here is not to be funny or make people laugh. The main goal is to get through to my audience.

Most of my sushi class participants are first time sushi rollers. I discuss some new concepts that may be difficult for some to understand. I hate talking to large groups of people when I sense they do not understand what I am talking about. I see that reaction as a failure as a teacher. 

I learned humor can help the audience relax, make a connection with a speaker, make it easier to get across a point, and keep them engaged. While working at the sushi bar, I learned that entertaining the customers is half of my job. So, why not use humor to entertain the class participants and get the point across at the same time? That was my thinking, which led me to practice and improve my materials over a decade.

I studied many standup comedy videos on Youtube. Read some books. Listened to numerous podcasts. Then, I practiced my routine repeatedly like many stand-up comedians do.

I came to understand what stand up comedians go through. I never claim to fully understand what they go through because I am more like a part time amateur comedian. After a decade of practice, I have more appreciation for their effort, devotion and art. 

I now understand (partially) that it’s about when you say it, how you say it, and who you say it to. It’s never about being funny or trying to make people laugh because when you do, boy, does that make you feel a slap on your face. Trying to be funny almost never works. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Making jokes is similar to making sushi: Simple and not easy to do. They are both harder to do it better than good. 

Some jokes work. Many don’t. I flopped many times. Then, you learn from those embarrassing mistakes and make them better. The Japanese proverb says, “When you fall seven times, you get up eight times.” Sushi is the same. Some work, some don’t. You learn, make an improvement and move on. 

I invited you to come and hear my jokes in one of our scheduled public classes or a private event at your office or at home.

I will be there to share some of my jokes with you.


Breakthrough Sushi offers sushi classes and sushi catering in the San Francisco Bay Area using sustainable seafood.

If you like to inquire about your next corporate or private event, please send us an email to request a quote.

If you like to sign up for our scheduled public classes in San Francisco and San Jose (Santa Clara), please see the schedule here.

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