Legendary Lecture A famous Japanese comedian shares his secrets to success with students at a comedian training school before he retired.
This is an essential talk not only for comedians, but also for what it takes to be successful in life and in marketing.
Talent and hard work
Talent is like a report card with 5 levels, from 0 to 5.
Effort is also on a scale of 0 to 5.
If a person with talent 5 puts in 5 efforts, the result is 5 x 5, which is the highest score of 25 points. So, maybe some of you who are failing in the audition didn’t put in 5 effort….
And if you did, you’re probably putting in the wrong effort.
If you only put in about 1 effort, even if you only have 3-4 talents, you will only get 3-4 results. So, what we can tell you is how to make an effort. That is why people say, “Shinsuke-san, you make a lot of effort,” but I don’t make any effort at all.
Kakev (a famous former Japanese professional baseball player) says the same thing.
He swung the bat 500 times every day before going to bed. That’s how you became Mr. Tigers (Hanshin Tigers).”
There is a difference.
It is a matter of course for a professional baseball player to swing the bat 500 times every day.
That is not effort. It is a matter of awareness.
So, if you swing a bat 500 times without meaning to, your arm will only get bigger.
But that is just muscle training. It is not baseball practice.
In 500 swings of the bat, you have to swing the bat one at a time with the image of the batter in mind.
There is a difference between doing that 500 times and just swinging the bat. A boxer practices more than three hours a day and becomes overworked. It’s the same with comic storytellers. If you do a storytelling session several times a day, at first glance you may think you’re getting better, but that’s just because you’re used to it.
But that is simply because they have gotten used to it. The moment they get used to their own material, they seem to get good at it all at once.
But the audience will not like it one bit. We don’t practice more than necessary. We need to do more basic things than that. For example, one way to practice is that laughter is a sense of sound.
There are tone deaf singers and tone deaf talkers. It means you can’t tell if your sense of sound is off.
It’s the same with comedy.
Laughter has a key. So when you change the tone and the sound.
The ones who are good at finding those tones and sounds will be able to get into it perfectly. So, what is necessary to learn that?
It is basic rhythm. So instead of practicing manzai in the rehearsal room, you should practice while walking. When you walk slowly, you talk slowly.
If you walk fast, you talk fast. The rhythm of walking becomes the rhythm of speaking.
Therefore, you and your partner must first find a basic base rhythm.
This is our rhythm (whether it is 8 beats, 4 beats, or classical music).
This rhythm is the starting point.
First of all, we don’t have to do interesting material.
We walk, talk, and decide on a rhythm. We do this until the rhythm becomes ingrained in our bodies.
That is the most important thing.
There is no textbook for comedy, is there?
I decided to create my own textbook.
I recorded and recorded the material of the manzai comedians that I found “interesting! I would record the material of the comedians that I found “funny!
Then I would write it down on a piece of paper.
I would stop and write everything down on a piece of paper.
It takes a lot of time, but I write it all down on paper. I always look at it and think about it before I go to bed.
“How am I different from myself?” I think about it every night before I go to bed.
I watch many pairs of funny comedians because they have their own reasons for being funny.
And by writing them down on paper, I can see many things. For example, I compare a manzai performer I find interesting with one who is considered a virtuoso. I found that the number of “pauses” per minute was different. Of course, people who have been doing it for 10 or 20 years are good. Their pauses are very fine. Let’s say that a good person has 20 pauses in a minute. If we wanted to do the same, we would not be able to do it in one minute. But even we comic storytellers don’t pay attention to that kind of thing. And the audience doesn’t see that. All they see is whether it’s funny or not.
You don’t have to be good at making gaps. It doesn’t matter if you are not good at it, as long as it is interesting. So, in our time, B&B, Two Beat, and Shinsuke Ryusuke (a popular Japanese comic duo from the 1970s)
had less than one minute of pauses. Good comedians had 20 pauses, but we only had 8. So, it is easier to create a rhythm by having one person talk overwhelmingly. Technically speaking, we are bad comedians. But the audience doesn’t understand.
Unabarasenri Manri (a popular Japanese comic duo from the 1970s) were
He had been a star since he was a high school student. So I quietly went to record them on tape. I would record two or so performances, then go home and analyze them. I would go home and analyze them, and wonder why they were so funny for a high school student. I found that 80% of the material had the same pattern. Eighty percent of the punchlines were the same.
Even those of us who want to be comic storytellers wouldn’t notice this.
And there is no way the audience would notice it either. If you compare it to baseball, 80% of the balls are fork balls and 20% are straight balls.
If you ask whether the straight ball is fast, it is not so. But I dare to scatter 20-30% of them with pitches that are not great for me.
By doing so, the fork ball stands out.
If all the pitches were normal fork balls, the audience would notice. I studied this kind of thing alone for a long time before forming the duo.
Partner and strategy
I didn’t form a pair very often.
What can I do to sell myself? How can I make myself known to the world?
I thought to myself, “Let’s make this style of comedy! I first thought about it on my own.
I looked for a partner for this.
The first partner I found was my senior, but he was no good at all.
I asked him to let me quit on my own.
He lied and ran away, saying he was quitting because he was going to study in America. The second person I worked with trained for three weeks and ran away.
He was practicing differently than normal. I know exactly what I’m trying to do, so let’s do this!
So I would do the same thing over and over again. So, I was looking for someone with guts.
I met Ryusuke (Shinsuke’s partner).
He would come to my house in Kyoto two or three days a week, and we would not practice manzai at all.
I would give him lessons from my textbook on manzai. What will sell from now on? How can I make it sell?
What do I want to do? This is how I want to make it.
I want to make it like this, and I want you to follow me for six months.
If it doesn’t sell, the textbooks are wrong. That can’t be helped. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do what I’m looking for right now.
You don’t have to do it right now. Just understand what I want to do. July 15 is the first day of the show, and I’m going to teach the theory of manzai all the way through to the end of June, and then we’ll start practicing actual material for the first time. This is not at all the kind of manzai I just taught Ryusuke. It’s a very simple comic performance.
But I wanted to do this first. I wanted to do this.
And then, after a while, when I got used to the various things, and I could see the audience.
After a while, when I get used to the various things and can see the audience, I’ll move on to the next stage. There was a big manzai competition in September, and I had to qualify for it.
Please enter me in the competition! I asked him to enter me in the competition.
The boss said, “No way! We’ve just started working together, right?”
And I’m like, “What are you talking about?
He said, “What are you talking about? It’s true that I’ve only been boxing for a month. But since I’m going to be world champion, I can definitely win against a rookie.”
There are eight qualifiers left, but he said it’s a given that he’ll stay.
I thought there was no way I could lose against such a scummy opponent.
In the end, we came in third place, and I was so frustrated at losing that my mind went blank.
I was so frustrated at losing that I went blank and told the contestants, “You guys are making a mistake! and threw a bouquet of flowers at them.
For the next 30 years, I had no work from the company that sponsored the competition. Then, the winner was Kodama Hikari (a popular Japanese comic duo from the 1970s).
It had been many years of hard work.
Kodama was so moved that he cried and gave an interview.
I said, ” Hey! What are you crying about, asshole? Don’t cry, asshole!”
And then he said to the organizers
I’ll be the best in my own way. I’ll prove it!
I’ll prove it!
I finally apologized to Mr. Kodama for that just recently.
I said, “I behaved in an unbecoming manner as a junior. And…
And then, Mr. Kodama didn’t get angry.
He said, “This guy is amazing. He’s so confident. He’s scary.
Kodama-san seemed to have a memory of that.
Then we started selling well in Osaka, but we were still newcomers, so we were still treated like trash.
But we would turn down jobs that were offered to us.
We wouldn’t go to the jobs we had been given.
Kodama-san thought we were horrible.
People around us thought we were naughty, cocky, delinquents, and slackers. In fact, that was the character we were playing.
But actually, we didn’t go to work because we couldn’t win.
Even if we fought with everyone in our current half-hearted state, we would lose. I’m afraid of losing.
That’s why I don’t go.
But people around me get really mad at me.
According to my own logic, I’m right in that I don’t want to fight a game I can’t win, but to those around me, I just look like a cocky guy. Ninety percent of the people at Yoshimoto (Gentleman’s agent) didn’t understand manzai either.
The manager of the theater at the time didn’t understand it either.
Of the 21 times he performed on stage, he only performed seriously three times. It was useless to be serious on stage in the morning with an audience of grandmothers. That’s why I always cut it off after about two minutes.
Or, I intentionally keep my voice low so they can’t hear me.
Why did I do that?
Our target audience was men between the ages of 20 and 35, and we had to make 35-year-old men laugh.
In those days, you had to make everyone laugh, from children to adults. In such an environment, we were the only ones who had to subdivide our comic performances.
That is why we targeted men between the ages of 20 and 35 and made them laugh.
It was the easiest way to make people who were closest to me laugh.
But when we go out on stage for a bit and start selling well, young women start to get attracted to us and cheer.
This is a hindrance. They ruin us.
I always told my partner.
They make us look popular with their cheers and shouts. They are necessary. But they are a huge distraction. Because it is easy to make them laugh.
So the moment we try to make them laugh, it’s all over for us.
That’s why we do it with the feeling that the guy watching in his living room will think it’s funny.
The audience is always behind the camera.
You can never make young girls laugh, who laugh easily. The more they laugh, the more the guys between the ages of 20 and 35, the ones we want to make laugh the most, say.
They say, “What are you doing? Do it at the school festival. You should get together with your family more often.