Dramatic Changes in the Comic Environment” that Greatly Improved the Two Members of Mama Tart
2022 Road to M-1: "Mama Tart" [Part 2
Otsuru Masashi and Yohei Hinohara of Mama Tart have gained popularity with their 182 cm, 180 kg blur and their soft-faced, yet on-the-moment, on-the-mark comedic timing. They have gained recognition as their career has progressed, and they are now considered by their fellow comedians as a talented duo that “could have made it to the finals of the M-1 (Grand Prix)”.
How did these two energetic comedians develop their current style of manzai? We will look into the core of their appeal, including how they create rakugo-like material, how their long tsukkomi (a Japanese comic storytelling technique) came into being, their obese torso praised by former sumo wrestler Konishiki, and what they felt during their Tomeihan tour with Kaname Stone and Jessica Vacuum.
We don’t like to rehearse our material, so we don’t do it until the show.
–Last year and this year, they held solo live shows twice a year. What is the position of a solo live show for you two?
Hinohara: We use our solo live performances as a reference for the material we will perform in the M-1 preliminary rounds.
April The best material from April is performed in the third round of M-1, and the best material from June is performed in the second round. We survey a lot of people, so we use it as a reference for the M-1.
Obesity: We are taking questionnaires including those who distribute, so the number of people is increasing rapidly. I think this is the cleanest data in terms of numbers.
Hinohara: If the same material is performed at different live shows, it is hard to tell which is better. With a solo show, you get to see 10 shows in the same hour, so I think the survey is more reliable.
-I usually perform at various theaters, mainly at “Nishi-Shinjuku Narugeki” and “Mugendai Hall. I thought it would be hard to make new material.
Hinohara: I don’t have much time to think about it (laughs). I get up early in the morning and think about it during the live performances of new material about three times a month. If I can’t think today, I often get up at 8:00 a.m., go to a coffee shop, and think quickly.
Obesity：We don’t like to meet up for storytelling, so we don’t do it until the live performance. At first, my partner says all the lines for me, and after listening to them, I try to interpret them in my own way.
Hinohara: My partner memorizes some of the lines for me, so there is no script. I think it is similar to the training of a rakugo artist. I record the material we perform at each live performance on my Apple Watch, and after the second performance, I play it back and tell my partner what I wanted him to say in this part. We don’t adjust the material and go straight into the performance.
The birth of the long tsukkomi: “I wanted to do something that wasn’t similar to Rough Products-kun’s.”
–The two’s manzai is characterized not only by their bokeh but also by their tskkomi, which makes it even funnier. What kind of tsukkomi are you conscious of, Mr. Hinohara?
Hinohara: When I think “I want to make this material more popular,” I try to make it better by thinking about the part of the material that I can’t pull off as a joke, but I feel sad if it isn’t popular.
For daily live performances, I think about it during the performance, and for M-1 or other important occasions, I write it down in a memo and say, “Let’s say it like this.
Obesity: I don’t know if it was ad-libbed or not, but I heard the comment “If your lawyer is weak, you could be executed” for the first time at last year’s performance. There was no prior exchange of “I’m going to say this,” but rather, during the performance, I heard him say, “Oh, he’s making this comment.
Hinohara: There was a lot of blank space in the material, and if I thought it wasn’t very well received, I would stick to about four lucky guesses. I record them, and when I think, “Oh, I thought that was funny the other day,” I go back to the audio data and say, “Oh, let’s adopt that one then. On the other hand, I decided to say the long tsukkomi and put it in.
–What made you decide to do long tsukkomi?
Hinohara: Around 2019 or 2020, I was told that I was similar to SHIMOFURI MYOJO, and I thought so too. I thought the style of what SHIMOFURI MYOJO and I do, the endings of our comedic delivery, the atmosphere, and so on, are similar.
So I simply decided to do something that wasn’t similar to Akusei’s style, and I decided to make a long tsukkomi (laugh). (Laughs). (Laughs). I changed it a little because I thought that if I simply made a long quip, I wouldn’t have to say it.
Mr. Shindo (Tatsumi) of “You’re an Idiot, You’re an Idiot” said, “Lately, people who perform at free live shows are copying Hinohara’s tsukkomi. If it was Mr. Roughy, he would say, “You’re a pussy! and there is a characteristic hand pose, right?
If someone else does it, it’s like, “That’s Mr. Sakurai,” because it’s a set of movements. However, my partner’s work does not have a specific phrase or movement, so there is a possibility that it could end up being stolen (laughs).
Hinohara: That’s why we have to get to the M-1 final as soon as possible (laughs).
If he makes it to the finals first, my partner will become a fake (laughs). (laughs) I’m on the edge now, or I’m in a situation where I’m in danger of becoming a fake.
Konishiki also praised his core: “He was in a crouching posture and didn’t move an inch.
–What do you think is the characteristic of Mr. Obese’s comedy?
Obese: In the third round of M-1, I talked with Naruhiko Kashiwagi of “Suteki-na-dana-dana,” and he said, “Obese moves very well. He told me, “He’s the talk of the town in Jimbocho (Kagetsu) right now. I heard that a comedy duo called “Goya,” who appeared there, did a manzai in which they moved quite a bit like I did.
I was told that they were slow to get up and their moves were not sharp enough. After the show, they came back onstage, gasping for breath, and said, “Hahahahaha …… Mr. Obesity is too amazing” (laughs).
Hinohara: Goya is about 90 kg. He is a bit on the large side, but if he falls on his butt once during a story, it’s like a “yokosho” to get back up. Otsuru: Otsuru is 180 kg, but after lying down, he jumps up and stands in front of the microphone with a swoosh.
Obesity: After the good-natured guy gets down on all fours and makes a peace, a second or two is enough for him to stand up and say, “Here you go, sir” (laughs). After that, I can immediately move on to the next blur, which makes me think I have a great core.
Hinohara: I can also play catcher with this body shape. Usually, you can’t crouch down when you are somewhat heavy.
Obesity: That is where Mr. Konishiki (Hachikichi Konishiki, a former sumo wrestler from Hawaii. He is a former sumo wrestler from Hawaii. There was a program called “Active Sumo Wrestlers vs. Physical Entertainers: Monster Battlefield” (TBS) in which sumo wrestlers pushed each other with sticks, and I was in a crouching position the whole time and won the match.
The guest, Konishiki, who was watching me, said, “I knew from the beginning that he was going to win. He didn’t move an inch in his crouching posture, right? That’s not easy to do. It’s too amazing. I really made a mistake (laughs).
The biggest change this year is that I can now ride an electric bicycle.
–Last year, the theater “Nishi-Shinjuku Narugeki,” operated by K-PRO, opened. You perform there frequently. Is there any part of your training there?
Hinohara: Yes, I perform about 15 shows a month at Narugeki, so I perform the most. After the first show, I go back upstairs and talk for a bit, and when I’m about two acts into the show, I go downstairs and do another round of manzai. I really feel like a Yoshimoto comedian.
Obesity: I think the reason for the increase in the number of shows is not because of Narugeki or anything, but because we both bought electric bicycles this year. It simply made it easier to get around. Yoshimoto performers can move between the Infinity Hall and the Dome using an elevator, so they can perform five shows a day.
But with other companies, if you do two shows at Narugeki, you have to go to Shinjuku Battios, Nakano Performing Arts Theater, Shimokitazawa, and so on, which is obviously a long distance to travel. The electric bicycle solved this problem. This made it much easier for us to jump out and jump in (leave the theater as soon as the performance is over and re-enter the theater).
Hinohara: Until then, I had refused to go out in midsummer, and I tried to do one a day as much as possible.
Obesity: If I was going to be in Shimokitazawa for a live show, I wouldn’t go out for anything else. I used to say that Nakano and Shimokitazawa were absolutely impossible, but now I do two gigs in Shinjuku, then go to Shimokitazawa, then move to Nakano, and finally to Shibuya for a radio recording. After I bought an electric bicycle, I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Hinohara: I don’t have to worry about hills, so I can get around easily.
Obesity: I used to hate Yamate-dori more than anything else in the world, but now I love it the most. It’s like, “What a convenient street it is” (laughs). (Laughs) So, the biggest change this year is that I can now ride an electric bicycle.
Realization at the Tomeihan Manzai Show: “Be influenced but not covered”.
–In the spring and fall of this year, you held the “Tou-Mei-Han Manzai Show” with Kaname Stone and Jessica Vacuum. Were there any differences in the reactions in different regions?
Obese: Tokyo was the most unfavorable. It was the most difficult to choose the best material.
Hinohara: In Tokyo, there are many people who usually come to see our live performances, so it was difficult to get people to like our material unless it was new. On the other hand, in Nagoya and Osaka, even if we had done the same material many times in Tokyo, the audience laughed at it freshly and it was very warm.
We started going to Osaka last year, but we only perform at shows where we are the main attraction or where there are many customers who come to see comedians who are good friends of ours, so we have yet to perform at a real Osaka show.
Obesity: I am scheduled to perform at Mangeki (Yoshimoto Manzai Theater) again this November, but maybe I won’t be scared or anything on stage like that. The first time I was allowed to perform in a live show by Metal Butt, Inoshikacho, Maisui (My Sweet Memories), and Black Belt, it was quite warm. And the seats were filled.
-I still have to be baptized. Did you notice anything new while watching the comic performances of Kaname Stone and Vacuum Jessica?
Hinohara: Vacuum Jessica and Mama Tart used to be similar in form, like a “great comedy” and a “collected tsukkomi” in a manzai comedy contest. I thought we might be compared to each other in last year’s quarterfinals, but we gradually veered off on different paths.
I thought, “If we go together here, we will be compared again next year,” so I changed my groove somehow so that we would not be compared. I also tried not to be the same as Kaname Stone. I think that people who meet often encourage a positive effect, such as “being influenced by each other but not being influenced by each other.
–That’s a unique part of a three-person comic show.
Hinohara: I was also surprised to see such a large audience in Nagoya and Osaka. Originally, we were performing at a 40-person capacity venue in Shimokitazawa, and I was just happy to see that the place was full. I was just happy that the venue was full.
But when we played in Osaka and Nagoya, we were told that 300 or 600 people would show up. I was like, “What?
Obesity: I was surprised, “Why? I was like, “Why?
Hinohara: I thought maybe the audience came because Jessica Vacuum won the M-1 final, but the response was nothing like that. I was happy to know that there were people in Nagoya and Osaka who supported all of us, and not just one group.
In the past few years, I think there has been a sense of collective support for comedians who share a room or perform together. People who like Oswald and Frogtei also like Otsuru Otsuru, who shares a room with Oswald and Frogtei (now living together) after watching their YouTube videos.
Another example is a person from Osaka who likes Male Blanco who saw our room-sharing video that we did about 2 years ago (Male Blanco Masaaki Hirai used to live together with ZAZY, Hinohara, and others) and became a fan of ours. I feel that more and more people have become fans through such connections.
Obesity: Many of them have already become regular finalists in the awards race. Mama Tart needs to get through the quarterfinals first to catch up. We will give it everything we have.
Part 1: Mama Tart reveals how she will challenge the hard door of the M-1 quarterfinals.
Interview and text： Asahi Suzuki
Freelance editor/writer. Former band member, former broadcaster. Loves all kinds of entertainment. Published "Shimura Ken Theory" (Asahi Shinbun Publishing) in April 2021. Currently updating his personal website, "Immortal Writing Blues. http://s-akira.jp/