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.
Analysis of X and Y
How do you make a comic?” is the first thing I think about.
There are two kinds of laughter that I find funny! There are two kinds of comedy that I think are funny.
There are two kinds of comedy that I think is funny, but I can’t do it! and the other is, “This is just like me! I can’t do it!
This is just like me! is the one that is closest to me. You have to look for a few like that, not just one comedian, but a few.
And then say, “I can do this! You’re just like me! That’s the same pattern I’m making my friends laugh! I’m making my friends laugh! And then the other thing is to study. Listen to all the successful comedians of the time, those who have been successful for a long time, and those who are successful at that time and age.
Listen to them and find out how they have changed and what is different. And, you know, the first thing to do with X is to ask yourself what you can do. Search desperately for your own strengths.
Next comes Y, which is the flow of laughter in the world. Research the changes of the times.
So, when you study X and Y and understand them, you will understand them. What am I going to do? What should I do? What am I going to do? I had a lot of friends, and I have seen a lot of people, but many of them are struggling because they don’t know these X and Y either.
Both seniors and juniors would say, “Shinsuke-san, I want to make a new kind of comedy. I thought they were idiots. What should I do? Shinsuke?” It’s impossible.
Even I can’t give you an answer.
I’m not you either, so if I were you and worked hard for a year, I wouldn’t be able to come up with an answer.
But I can make a formula.
I’m not you, so I don’t know X [what I can do by myself]. I think I can make Y [the flow of laughter in the world] in six months.
I think I know what kind of laughter will change in the next five to ten years.
You have to create this formula (X and Y). Just think of something funny. Let’s do something that others are not doing. And that’s absolutely impossible.
But there are things you can do by chance. But it will definitely go down. The reason is that the answer doesn’t have [the formula for X and Y], it’s a fluke.
It’s the same with school tests. Sometimes the numbers you write down happen to be right, right? But if you are successful without any evidence, you can’t keep up with Y (the flow of laughter in the world), because Y is moving.
There are one-hit wonders in the entertainment industry, right? Why does the one-hit wonder disappear after one sale? That’s because they don’t know why they sold.
It just so happens that what they have been doing for a long time has hit the change of the times. That’s why it has an impact. But you can’t correct it. All successful people are the same, they are adapting themselves to the world. When I asked him, “Do you feel threatened by the younger generation?” He said.
［He and Akashiya Samma (a popular Japanese comedian who is good friends with Shinsuke) say, “Not at all! He says, “Not at all!
Why, when he sees me practicing, he says, “What are you practicing? and he says, “What are you practicing?
To me, it looks like he’s doing muscle training all the time.
The bodies of Olympic gymnasts are amazing. They have 4% body fat. But they can’t throw a baseball. The reason is that they have muscles only for gymnastics. They don’t need to practice throwing. They don’t need practice that they don’t need. The current [formula for X and Y] is absolute. How many of them will understand X and analyze Y correctly? I don’t think all of them will. But I think some of them will.
Those who are selling now will say to me, “Why are you telling me this? Don’t tell me! Keep it a secret!” I’m sure they’re thinking, “Why tell me? So, X + Y, and how do I make something? First, I do it.
Luck and calculation.
I haven’t had a single fight with my partner in 8 years. Out of 10 times on stage, only 2 or 3 times are serious.
But my partner always gives it his all. Even so, after the performance, he never said, “Hey, let’s be serious! He never said, “Hey, let’s be serious!
He thought, “He must be thinking about something.
He never thought about ending his career on stage, because his goal was to be on TV.
Some people say it’s luck to be on TV, but if there is one thing that is luck, it’s who are your peers and who are your rivals. Who are your rivals? That’s what it means.
If KyooJinHanshin hadn’t been there, I would have thought of a more coherent comedy.
I was surprised when I saw Kyozin Hanshin (a popular Japanese comic duo from the 1970s) when I first joined the company. They were newcomers to Yoshimoto (Agent), and when I saw them for the first time, I thought, “This is great.
When I went to Kyushu on a regional tour, I was asked in the bathroom, “What are you doing, Shinsuke? I’m going to choose a partner and do manzai, too. He said, “What else have you been doing?
What else do you do?” I asked him what else he was doing, and he said, “Doing mimicry…”
I was confident in my mimicry, so I said, “Try it. I told him to try it.
I thought, “Oh, so this is how a professional imitates a professional.
Then he asked me to do a mimic, too, and I immediately said, “I can’t do a mimic,” and ran away.
After that, I thought to myself, “I’ll never do a mimic again! I thought to myself, “I’m not going to do it. Because we would lose. We should only try to win. When I saw Kyozin Hanshin’s comic performances, I thought I would never do comic performances. At that time, I cut my hair and parted it into 7 thirds to make it look neat.
But I was lucky to be in the same class with Akashiya Samma. He has a natural brightness. He was a star.
He can make an ordinary third strike look like a fine play. He’s bright 24 hours a day.
This is a guy who will be popular. You’ll never be able to beat him.
He can’t be a legitimate comic, he can’t be a star. Then what should he do? Become a villain. I could be a heel.
I was always a delinquent boy in Kyoto. I am the closest to the world, and there are many things that only I know. I can turn that into a laugh. A really scary person is not funny. But if a scary-looking guy is weak, you can laugh. And then, you wear a tuna costume, or a regent hair style, or something…
Every time I went to work, he would get mad at me and say, “Are you fucking kidding me?” And if you keep getting mad at them, they get tired of being mad at you.
The first time I was asked to be in a New Year’s show, I was told, “You know what New Year’s is all about, don’t you? You can’t wear that costume!
At that time, we were supposed to wear formal attire, like hakama or a tuxedo.
So, for my New Year’s performance, I went out in a plain white sandals with “Gasho” written on it. I was severely scolded. But I said to the end, “I can only wear this during the New Year’s holiday. It’s a New Year’s costume. That’s funny! They said, “That’s funny! But you have to keep the results, don’t you? Umeda Kagetsu (Yoshimoto’s theater) has a performance once a month on Saturday nights. The manzai artists who sell a lot of tickets by themselves are allowed to perform there. But we never sold any tickets. But we always made it. Why? Because we were the funniest. You don’t have to sell tickets. Because it feels good, doesn’t it? If your peers are bowing down and selling lots of tickets, and we don’t sell any, and we still make the audience laugh the most. That’s the best. I’d go to the manager and say, “Please give us tickets! We won’t sell tickets, but we’re the funniest. We won’t sell it, but it’s the funniest. In the beginning, we made a lot of effort. I would always go to the theater and say, “Please give me a part! and I’d go to the theater and say, “Please give me a part!
And they’d say, “We’re full up from 12:00.
But they would say, “Well, please open at 11:45.
But they would say, “Well, please open the show at 11:45. If we start at 12:00, the audience will be there, right?
I said, “Please let me open the show at 11:45. I was 21 when we started working together, and by the time I was 23, I was already doing a lot of work in Osaka. Within two years of working together, we were living a very rich life.
Memorize with your mind
I don’t read books. Not even one book a year. But people think I read a lot. They think I read and study. It’s the same with movies. I don’t watch them at all. I’ll tell you why. The knowledge I get from reading books is for my own satisfaction. I can understand if it’s for a quiz show. Can you answer a lot of questions? That’s all you get out of it. It doesn’t help us comic comedians. Because we’re just talking about what we’ve learned. The place where we learn is different. The place where we remember is different from ordinary people. We remember with our minds. You know how many of the things I said today made you think, “Oh, I see,” right? That is not stored in the brain. You remember it in your heart. Then you will never forget it. Do you remember the math formulas you learned in high school? You don’t remember, do you?
Because you remembered it in your head.
But you will never forget the conversation you had with your best friend in high school, right?
You remember what you said to your best friend in high school. Or, “I told you so and so.
You can clearly recount what you said to a girl when you confessed your feelings to her, can’t you?
Why? Because you memorized it in your mind.
When you recall what your brain remembers, you recall it normally.
It takes time. That’s why it takes time.
But when you remember something from the heart, you don’t know where you put it.
But when I feel the same emotion, the drawer opens on its own.
That’s why I don’t think about talking on talk shows.
I just walk up to them, look them in the face, and then say what I feel for the first time.
So I never think about what I’m going to say.
There’s a theme, and then someone talks about it.
I’ll say something like, “I remember when I was pissed off in high school.” I don’t think about it. Even if I did, I couldn’t remember it. But the moment the talk starts, someone says, “Here’s what happened… here’s what happened…! I can’t think about it.
At that moment, I became a high school student in my mind.
Then, I become the person I was when I was in high school, and I open a number of drawers. I choose what I want to say.
So I’m never prepared. The trick to remember with your heart is that you have to have a lot of emotional ups and downs. You have to feel it in your heart at all times. I do live shows at my bar [Bar Hasegawa], and there is one singer who is really good. He is so good that sometimes the audience is moved to tears.
But, you know, 90% of successful talents are prone to crying. The other day, Goto of Football Hour (a popular Japanese comic duo of today) was crying when he heard the singer’s song. No one in the audience cried. How could a TV personality cry at a place like that?
But he doesn’t understand it either. He said, “Why am I crying? Shohei (Japanese TV personality), Taka Gatarukanaru (Japanese TV personality), and Eiko Koike (Japanese TV personality) all cry a lot. These are people who can remember with their hearts. Let’s say a year or two later, the singer becomes successful, right? Then, those who were not crying would say, “I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time. He was a fan for a long time, and he was a really good singer.
But if Shohei, Gotoh, or Eiko Koike were asked, they could speak with emotion. When I first heard it, I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t understand anything, but I couldn’t stop crying! I couldn’t stop crying! If I had to choose which conveys the message better, I would say this conveys the message better. That’s why I have to be the one who remembers with all my heart.