Confession of scrappy comedian Yoichi Okano: “Honestly, I don’t care either way about the result.
Okano, who made it to the finals of "King of Conte 2022" with his impromptu duo "The Best Humans" with pin comedian Yoshizumi, said, "I don't care either way about the outcome of the awards race. The truth is...
I sell myself as a “trashy comedian” for the sake of convenience, but I am not a “trashy person. I have to be clear about that.
Okano Yoichi (40), a former “maestro” of the “King of Conte 2022” (TBS), who has qualified for the finals of the competition with his impromptu unit duo “The Best Humans” with Yoshizumi (32), a pin comedian who is his junior at his office, gave us an exclusive interview in mid-August, the day the semifinal results were announced. In an exclusive interview in mid-August, the day the semifinalists were announced, Okano confessed that he was actually upset about his catchphrase, “scum comedian.
I borrow money from other people, but I have never been a scab! I have never thought of myself as a bum! Because I am not a bum.
His current debt is approximately 12 million yen. The cause is pachinko. The people he owes money to are all friends and fellow comedians, and he usually refers to them as “debtors. He currently lives in a townhouse owned by a woman he is dating and is a pimp. What part of this does not make him a scumbag?
I borrow money from other people, but basically I don’t make them uncomfortable or unhappy. If I did that, it would be fraud. I haven’t repaid the money yet, but I always express my intention to pay it back, just like a lover would say “I love you” every day. Do you understand? And the other person is not angry with me. In other words, it is “fraud” and “scum” to fly away without returning the message, but fortunately or unfortunately, I work in this kind of business, so I can’t fly away…. If I had a normal job, I might have fallen to the dark side and flown.
To begin with, what kind of life has Okano led? How did he end up in debt?
Okano was born in a rural town on the outskirts of Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture, and grew up in a family with strict discipline, where his father was an educator. He received the free love of his parents and excelled academically and athletically as a child.
When I was in elementary school, I was called a ‘child prodigy. I was called ‘child prodigy’ when I was in elementary school,” he said. I wanted to be a regular school teacher like my father, an educator. After school, I would play baseball and soccer with my friends in the field until the sun went down. After that, we would buy juice from a vending machine with the 100 yen coins in our pockets and go home together. One day, I was eight years old. I was eight years old. The price of juice from the vending machine was 110 yen. That’s right! It was the consumption tax hike!
I collapsed on the spot. Why can’t I drink a drop when I’m only 10 yen short? At least let me drink 80% of it! At that time, a girl in my class named Iwasa offered me 10 yen and said, “I’ll lend you 10 yen. She was like a god. I bought a bottle of Ambasa and drank it, and it tasted so good. I was surprised at how good it tasted when I borrowed money to drink it! I thought. I returned the 10 yen the next day, but that was the origin of my debt. That was the origin of my borrowing money.
When I was in elementary school, I used to borrow erasers from the person sitting next to me. You would say, “Thank you,” and return it. Borrowing money is no different. Even if I borrow a pack of cigarettes, I will definitely return it. I have the will to pay it back. That’s why I don’t feel guilty.
Once he became a junior high school student, this self-proclaimed “prodigy” elementary school student completely forgot his dream of becoming a teacher and set his sights on becoming a comedian. After graduating from high school, he went on to university in Kyoto, but it was there that the rural prodigy encountered pachinko.
He said, “From the age of 18 to 26, I was almost always in pachinko parlors. Some days I would win and some days I would lose. But that wasn’t what I was looking for. I discovered the beauty of keeping spinning the pachinko machine. In other words, if you keep spinning the pachinko machine, you get a chance to win or lose, right? I have come to know the pleasure of that.
I started to play pachinko for the “hot reach” (a situation in pachinko where the chance of winning the jackpot has increased). In other words, I don’t care if I win or lose. It became a pleasure for me to be able to take part in the lottery. To do so, I had to keep spinning the table. I have to take the chance that something fun will come my way.
Okano passionately and politely explained his reasons for continuing to spin the pachinko machine, and he says he will never stop playing pachinko even if his debts increase in the future.
Human beings are creatures of balance. The more serious a person is in life, the greater the repercussions, and you never know what they will do. To prevent that from happening, I continue to play pachinko. It’s not that I want to win. Debt is not a big problem, just the result of it. I just want to make it clear that although I love pachinko so much, I actually prefer making contraptions to playing pachinko.
In the past, he formed a duo called “The Master,” which won second place at the first NHK New Comedy Awards in 2014 and made it to the finals of the King of Conte for two consecutive years starting the same year. His ability to create comedy was highly regarded by his fellow comedians. However, in 2016, the group disbanded following his partner’s retirement from show business. For several years after that, he stayed away from the media and went underground.
For some reason, “scraps” have been featured on TV for the past few years, but of course, scraps have an expiration date. I think it’s time for me to stop selling myself as a “bum. So this year, I formed a unit called “The Best Humans” with Yoshizumi and participated in the King of Conte, but to be honest, I don’t care about the outcome of the awards race. To be honest, I don’t really care which way the awards race turns out. It’s as if I entered the competition to be entered into a lottery to announce the results. If I fail, I can enter again next year.
He asserts that winning the “King of Conte 2022” is neither his dream nor his goal. What exactly is his dream that he can say such a thing? Marriage to his live-in girlfriend, for example.
No,” he says. I don’t think that scum and fathers can coexist. Of course, there are scum who are fathers. That is the worst. But Suzuki Mogura (35) in “KUKI KAIDAN” stopped being a bum when he had a child. I guess we can’t coexist. That’s why I don’t think I can get married.
I have no dreams or goals. There is despair because I have such things. If I had to say something, I would say that I have never been to Okinawa, so I would like to go there, or I would like to challenge myself to see how far I can go with pachinko by deciding on 100,000 yen as the first amount of money I have. Yes, that’s it. I’d like to take next year or so off from work and go.”
After all, Okano is not just a “bum” for the sake of convenience, but a “bum” in the truest sense of the word….
I wonder if he is in the middle of his exciting rehearsals with his lottery ticket for the King of Conte finals in hand, or if he is still spinning the tables under Yoshizumi’s watchful eye.
PHOTO： Yuri Adachi