No more patterns, but” Confidence and Conflicts of Tokyo Hotelison
2022 M-1, Road to KOC: "Tokyo Hotelison" [Part 2
2020 After making it to the finals of the M-1 Grand Prix in 2010, Tokyo Hotayson’s Takeru and Shogo gained exposure on variety shows such as “Lovin’! and Wednesday’s Downtown (both on TBS). However, the base of their activities is still the stage.
In May and June of this year, they held their first solo live concert “Shashakaki” at six venues across Japan. They were glad to do it in a regional area,” they said, adding that they learned a lot from this solo live performance. We also asked them about the core elements that make up the current duo, including the difficulties they face in making their material and the impressive advice they received from Takumi Ishida of Kaminali.
I got the feeling that “this furi is definitely going to be understood because of this furi.
–This year, they held their first solo live concert “Shashakaki” throughout Japan. Did you feel a good response after touring the regions?
Takeru: It was the first time for me to hold a solo live concert, and I personally felt that it was a very good experience. The audience in Tokyo is used to seeing live performances, so even if we push our egos on them, they understand us. But in Okayama, my hometown, it is not like that. In Osaka, I felt that people are more willing to watch a manzai than a skit. I felt that Osaka audiences were more receptive to manzai than to kontô (comedy).
Shogo: The atmosphere at the second show in Okayama was very heavy. At the previous performance in Sendai, there was some material that was not well received. However, after some fine-tuning, such as adding some small fictions, the audience responded, “It was heavy, but it was still well received.
In rural areas, there are more people who have not been exposed to comedy, so it is necessary to make the material easy to understand. I felt the importance of this during this solo live performance. When I came back to Tokyo, I was no longer worried about how to make people laugh.
I could feel that the audience would definitely get the message because of my dance moves, and conversely, if the dance moves were not well executed, the audience really didn’t get the message. In that sense, too, I am glad I did it in a regional area. If we had performed only in Tokyo, we wouldn’t have been able to get that kind of feeling.
–Did you feel a different reaction at the Osaka show?
Shogo: The audience liked the orthodox style of manzai, or comedy with a clear point to laugh at. When we do something tricky, the Tokyo audience understands it a little quicker. But when the Kansai audience got into it, the return of laughter was really great.
Takeru: It was a great feeling. Also, in Okayama and Sendai, the audience was about 80%. The other places were almost completely filled, so I was simply happy about that. With the COVID-19 crisis, it is not so often that you see a large audience in person. It gave me confidence to know that there was a good audience.
Experiencing local performances, I am no longer in a hurry even if the first material is not good.
–Do you plan to hold solo shows in the next year or so?
Takeru: Yes, we are planning to do so. I hope the venues will get bigger little by little. We usually start out in the Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka areas, but this time, after consulting with our manager, we decided to perform at six venues across the country.
Shogo was born in Kagoshima, but we thought the audience might not be large enough, so we decided to play in Fukuoka. We also decided to do Okayama, where I am from, and Sendai, where Sand (Wichman), the senior member of our office, is from.
For my part, I thought it would be unnecessary to go to Okayama. It is my hometown, but I thought it would be difficult because there would be no audience. But when I actually did it, I learned a lot, and I thought it was very important to do it in a local area.
Shogo: I knew that material that is “universally popular” is almost 100% popular in all prefectures. I felt confident that I could actually experience this firsthand.
Takeru: But it is hard when the local atmosphere is heavy, and my parents are coming to see the show. (Laughs) In my mind, I was thinking, “It would be more popular elsewhere.
Shogo: In Okayama and Sendai, the second half of the show was more exciting. I was thinking, “It’s too heavy,” but from the last three or so songs in the second half, it was really popular. So, I was not in a hurry even if the first material was not good.
–I think it’s better than a tail-spin at the end.
Takeru: The first show in Tokyo was like that. We put the strongest material first, so the second half was a little weak. After that, we changed the order and put the stronger material at the beginning and at the ass, and the balance of the show as a whole became better. I learned a lot from that kind of compositional aspect.
I may have had in the back of my mind what Master Gyojin said to me.
–I have the impression that the stories are getting easier to convey every year. Recently, the “haiku” that you performed on “Netapare” (Fuji TV) was also a very simple story.
Shogo: It was silly to have Takeru say “Samui~! Shogo: I thought it was funny and silly to have Takeru say “It’s so cold! But I didn’t have the skills at the time, so I decided not to do it now. After a while, I was getting better at manzai, so I said, “Let’s try it for the first time in a while,” and it went over really well.
So I may have had in the back of my mind what (All-) Giant said to me at the M-1 final in 2020, “I would have preferred a more straightforward, mindless material. On the other hand, last year’s M-1 preliminary round was not so popular. I guess a slightly twisted story is more explosive in the quarterfinals and the revival round. I thought that was what they were looking for after all.
–I have created various patterns of stories such as “proverbs,” “English,” “palindromes,” and so on. They are all groundbreaking, but don’t you feel the hurdles are getting higher every year?
Takeru: Yes, I think so. It’s like you’re waiting for a lucky break.
Shogo: There are no more patterns. I can make up stories, but I think, “If I had done that story three years ago, it would have been hilarious. But since I’ve been doing it for three years, it’s like, “I’ve already seen that pattern.
One of my senpai told me, “The setup of the material itself is too much of a big joke. Usually, there is a set-up, and within that set-up, the comedy becomes more detailed, but for us, the set-up itself is a comedy. We have to be able to get into Takeru’s “Iya, XX” tsukkomi, and we have to overcome the hurdle of what the audience expects us to say.
I think we’ve already done one solo show this year. But it really feels like the final form. Like every year, we say, “There’s no more, there’s no more,” and somehow we manage to do one. So I hope this year will not be the last.
Takeru: We have our own style of manzai, so it may be a zero or a hundred kind of thing.
Shogo: We were able to make some really good material by doing solo shows, and we also made some material that wasn’t “Iya, 00” and it was popular. I would like to do that kind of material, but it is difficult to find the right place to put it.
If we do it and it is popular, the audience will think, “Oh, Hoteson can do this too,” and our reputation will go through the roof, but if we do it now in the M-1 qualifying round, the audience will probably say, “I want to see ‘Iya, 00. It’s a very difficult time for me to decide where to showcase my work.
Shogo, who saw the “Legendary Day” and was excited, and Shogo, who did not see it
–Two members of Downtown performed their first manzai in a long time during Yoshimoto Kogyo’s “Legendary Day” held in April this year. Shogo-san said that you were strongly influenced by Downtown. Did you see the live broadcast?
Takeru: Shogo, you didn’t watch it, did you?
Shogo: It’s a difficult emotion, but I thought I shouldn’t watch it. I thought it would not be good to go back to my old self and be like “I was a fan”. And since it was before my solo show, I thought it would be even worse if I didn’t see it. I did hear about it later, though.
Takeru: I saw it in real time. I thought it was great if they had a meeting and did that, but it was also great even if they didn’t have a meeting. In the beginning, both of them looked embarrassed, and when Mr. Matsumoto wanted to make a move, Mr. Hamada (Masanori Hamada) didn’t seem to get on board. But when they started to go into their manzai like that, I was really excited.
I thought Matsumoto-san was amazing and Hamada-san was amazing. The speed at which the bokes came out, “Oh, you’re going to do that part,” and so on. And it was live. The sense of realism made me think, “Wow, these people are really great.
Shogo: It’s live-streamed, so there won’t be any archives or anything. If it is possible, I would like to see it after he wins the M-1 championship.
Advice from Takumi Kaminali: “Tsukkomi is a way of life.
–Do you ever consult with your seniors about your own manzai?
Takeru: I often consult with Takumi (Ishida) Takumi of Kaminari about my tsukkomi. I ask him about it when we are having dinner on the way home from a business meeting or something. Of course, Takumi is funny and I respect him, but more than anything, he has a cool mindset.
I was impressed by his words, “Tsukkomi is a way of life. I watch movies to study tsukkomi and try to use the titles and lines. But Takumi-san says, “Don’t do that, use words from your own experience. I thought he was right. That advice has stayed with me.
Shogo: Our material is in a form that other people don’t do, so there are not many people I can ask for advice on material. So the way to ask for advice is to say, “Do you understand what I mean by this and then this? So the way I ask is, “Do you understand what I mean?
What do you think of this? I would ask, “I don’t know,” and they would say, “Do you understand what I mean? and if they say, “I understand what you mean,” then I say, “It’s okay. It is more like a confirmation process than a consultation. I often ask Mr. Kohei Ueda of Zoffy,
–What do you think of his behavior in variety shows?
Takeru: When I work with Mr. Date (Mikio), I ask him for advice, but he says, “He’s young, so he’s fine” (laughs). (laughs) So I feel like I’m going there to be praised rather than to ask for advice.
Shogo: When I asked Takeshi Tomizawa, “How did you get in front? Shogo: When I asked Mr. Tomizawa (Takeshi) “How did you get in front of the camera?” he advised me to do comedy as a duo, saying “If you complete your work as a duo, you will be used on TV. I would ask Mr. Tomizawa about variety.
–Shogo, before the M-1 final, you said, “I can’t act well in information variety shows.
Shogo: I have changed a little. When you have your own TV show, you are instantly recognized as a successful comedian. I am still afraid of doing variety shows in the prime time slot, but I want to persevere and do my best.
If I make it to the M-1 finals one more time, my reputation will rise once more, as people will say, “Well, you’ve made it to the finals twice, so your manzai is interesting. I hope to increase that kind of thing. I want to gain enough power to feel secure. Once I have power, I will be able to do more of what I want to do.
Part 1: Tokyo Hotayson talks about his real thoughts on M-1: “This year is the scariest…”
Interview and text： Asahi Suzuki
Freelance editor/writer. Former band member, former broadcaster. Loves all kinds of entertainment, especially comedians. Published "Shimura Ken Theory" (Asahi Shinbun Publishing) in April 2021. Currently updating his personal website, "Immortal Writing Blues. http://s-akira.jp/
Photography： Katsuaki Sato