Would you be willing to be locked away in a one-bedroom apartment for an undisclosed amount of time? Could you sustain yourself through the meager winnings of magazine contests? What if we told you the whole thing was being taped? Chances are, you'd probably run away screaming.
Nasubi, a 23-year-old stand-up comedian in Japan, plunged head-first into an opportunity just like that when he auditioned for a "show-business-related job" with a Japanese reality TV program. The whole experience reads like Japanese weirdsies–meets-'Big Brother'-meets-'The Truman Show.'
After what must have been the strangest audition in the history of television, Nasubi was given the rules: Live alone in a secret location for as long as it takes to win your freedom. Your only means of doing so? Enter magazine sweepstakes contests to win food, clothing, grooming supplies ... everything, to the equivalent of one million yen ($10,000). After that, Nasubi was promised an invite on Nippon Television's 'Susunu! Denpa Shōnen' where the footage from his experience would be aired to the world and hopefully facilitate the struggling comic's career.
It took two weeks for Nasubi to win a jar of jelly, four weeks for a bag of rice and 10 months for toilet paper (!!!). A pair of women's underwear was the only clothing he was able to procure. He resorted to eating dog food a few times. Because he couldn't leave the house, the movie tickets, bicycle and barbecue he won went to waste. "I thought of escaping several times," Nasubi revealed later. "I was on edge, especially toward the end." That end came more than 15 months later, but not before Nasubi met his financial goal, was shipped to a different apartment in Korea, and was told he needed to win his airfare in order to leave and go home. Sadists!
While the show's producers weren't being totally honest with Nasubi, it turns out it was with the best of intentions. They told him that he was being filmed, but they didn't reveal that the footage was actually being shared weekly on the national network, where bazillions of people were glued to the screen laughing and crying along with him. The footage and diary of his ordeal was being farmed out to advertisers and publishers, earning him millions of sweet yen. He was a celebrity already, and he had no idea until he ended up in a room in Tokyo one day after winning his freedom from the Korean apartment. There, 17 million viewers watched him learn what those long, isolating, agonizing months won him. Yay?
Since then, Nasubi has done a little acting. For the most part, though, he seems to be enjoying time away from the camera. Can you blame him?