A Japanese man who can run on all fours has won recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records. Kenichi Ito started walking on his hands and feet when he got teased at school for looking like a monkey. Being an admirer of monkeys, he took it as a compliment and started imitating their behaviour.
He can now monkey-sprint 100 metres in 18.58 seconds (a world record for humans). Try it yourself before scoffing. He spent years training in rural areas of Japan because the police kept arresting him in the city. Even the countryside wasn’t safe when a hunter took pot shots at him after mistaking him for wild game. It takes a lot of courage to flout the conventions of a conformist society like Japan.
Much as I admire Kenichi’s dedication, I don’t think his monkey impersonation is very realistic. Running in a straight line for no reason is not what monkeys do. They have no interest in exercise for its own sake, and would rather spend their leisure time lying in the sun, scratching their armpits.
If he really wants to test his monkey skills he should do the following: sneak up on a woman eating a snack; pinch her behind; steal the food she drops on the ground; race up the nearest tree. If her boyfriend gives chase and shouts abuse at him from under the tree, he should piss on his head. This type of game captures the true monkey spirit – the daring, the cheek, the greed, the use of the bladder as a weapon.
In actual fact the Japanese are not very monkey-like humans, being refined in their mannerisms and lacking body hair. All their bowing and ritualising would be seen as laughably affected in monkey circles. Admittedly they do make funny faces when they’re angry, but it makes them look like evil goblins rather than monkeys. If they want to win acclaim for their animal impressions, they should advertise their sumo bouts as simulated walrus fights, which is essentially what they are.
Yet whatever the shortcomings of his mimicry, I respect Kenichi for making a genuine attempt to explore the simian condition. The same cannot be said of humans who put on animal costumes to get cheap laughs. I was very pleased when one of these buffoons got arrested in Germany for stalking an elderly couple in an Easter Bunny outfit. Unfortunately, the police released him without charge after laughing the incident off. They should have frisked and cuffed him at the very least.
Gorilla impersonators are the worst, of course. Back in my circus days, I used to sneak up on anyone wearing a gorilla costume and politely ask for a banana. The human inside always interpreted this question as a sexual overture and panicked. Sometimes they ran, sometimes they screamed, sometimes they ran screaming. Their terror was misplaced, for no gorilla would ever lust after a human in a gorilla suit. Personally, I would rather have sex with a banana.
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