First time to perform with their senior members, Dacho Club.
Tomohisa Orita, Hiroki Matsuyama, and Tomoyappu of the comedy trio Monkey Base, who have been wowing the live scene with their cartoonish worldview and loud comedic character to a degree rarely seen nowadays. They have been working together for the first time in a YouTube project, benefiting from their office’s senior comedian Dacho Club, who has been a commercial character for pachinko and amusement facilities in the Hokuriku area since 2016.
The two groups share the common trait of making people laugh with a fixed punchline, but what kind of chemical reactions took place in the actual scene? We asked the three members to share their candid thoughts on the project, including their impressions of Dacho Club and their goals for the future as a trio.
“I was shocked by the leader’s on/off switch.”
–What was the most impressive scene in the Quattro Boom YouTube project, in which Dacho Club taught the Monkey Base some reaction techniques?
Orita: First of all, I was struck by the gap in tension between the two leaders. When he greeted the audience backstage, he was just saying, ‘Good morning, Monkey Base,’ but the moment the opening performance started, his eyes lit up and his voice boomed! It was so energetic that I couldn’t believe it was real.
I was so energized that I couldn’t believe it was real, and I was shocked at how it switched on and off. Since it went straight into the opening, I, as the facilitator, was quite taken in by it.
Tomohisa: I was really impressed by the scene where Jimon-san received a hot oshibori (hand towel) during the “reaction-activated pachinko game” (a game in which either Katsuhiro Higo or Jimon Terakado, the leader of the group, is punished if he or she gets a fever).
Just before the hand towel was brought to me, Mr. Djimon signaled to me that I should bring it back to him, in a way that the people around me could not hear him. First, Djimon said, “It’s hot!” and I returned the hand towel to him as I was told that it was too hot.
Finally, Djimon threw his hand towel behind me, and the leader, who had nothing to do with the punishment game, said, “Why?” I was impressed that they could come up with such an idea in such a noisy environment.
Matsuyama：Every scene was really interesting. I was impressed by the way they worked together to come up with such a great idea in such a noisy situation.
Orita: No way (laughs), I had time to think with the third person.
“As expected of the Dacho Club, they’re amazing.”
–I personally found it interesting that Matsuyama-san was out of tune even before the low-frequency vibrations started in the “Biribiri Karaoke Showdown”.
Matsuyama: What, were you tone deaf? I like karaoke the most out of all of us. You were so nervous that you were out of tune.
Tomo: Maybe I was tone deaf. None of us are that good at singing.
Orita: We weren’t very good singers to begin with, and we were so distracted and out of tune that it was really just a cacophony the whole time (laughs). We realized that if we couldn’t sing normally, there would be no difference in our reactions.
Tomo: Also, Matsuyama’s biribiri on me was too weak. I think they probably use just the right amount of pain to get the right reaction.
Orita: You know that machine, don’t you?
Tomo: Yes, he knows how to adjust the knob to the right level of pain (laughs). When I was singing, the knob would jolt once, and I would react with “Ouch!” but halfway through the song, I lost track and just went with my intuition.
Matsuyama: That’s because Tomoyappu’s body is full of things he doesn’t need.
Tomo: It seems I was a little strong on the electric current.
Orita: In general, that recording was a project where everyone, including the staff, knew how it was going to end. In such a situation, I honestly felt that our reactions were not enough to make the audience laugh. On the other hand, Dacho Club got big laughs with their reactions. I felt again that they are the best in Japan at doing that.
Tomo: There were many scenes that probably wouldn’t fit in the video, but when I wondered what I should do, Djimon or the leader would do something, and when I took advantage of it, I was able to get a good reaction and get a laugh. There were many times when I would say to myself, “Wow, that’s what I expected from Dacho Club. They really are legends!”
Matsuyama：We have been performing for 8 years now, and the young comedians around us are starting to appear on TV a little bit. But the quality of fun is completely different. Dacho Club really has a TV star’s sense of humor, a sense of humor that would make the whole nation of Japan laugh, and they were able to put 100% into every moment of the show. I was really happy to be there.
“If things continue to go well, we can go one step higher next year.”
–Monkey Base has twice made it to the final round of the “ABC Comedy Grand Prix” and is a regular in the quarterfinals of the “King of Comedy”. What do you think is needed to go one step further?
Orita: We are not the type of geniuses who “get to the finals in one shot,” and since Blue No. 1, a senior member of our office who is close to us, has been to the finals several times, we are not in that much of a hurry.
I’m just not used to being on a big stage, and I still get very nervous. For example, this year’s “King of Comedy” quarterfinals had a capacity of 700 people, and since it was our first experience, our hands were shaking. I think we need to get used to that kind of situation.
Tomo: I think it’s important not to be overwhelmed by the cameras and the crowd. The other thing is simply the material Orita writes. It’s still not the size of the final.
Orita: I don’t have enough ability to write stories, that’s all!
Tomo: However, there are times when he leaves the characters and phrasing to me, saying, “Here, you can do it your own way.” I want to improve my ability to make people laugh more.
When I watch the “King of Comedy,” I see that there are a lot of people who are simply funny as a person. I want to be as funny as them. If I can do that, I think I can make it to the finals!
Matsuyama: I really think Monkey Base will make it next year. Up until now, we have hit the wall from the quarterfinals to the semifinals in “King of Comedy” and from the final qualifying round to the finals in “ABC-“, and every time we hit the wall, there have been several times when I felt that I didn’t have enough laughs.
But in the quarterfinals of this year’s “King of Comedy,” I felt like we had broken through that wall. Personally, I feel that if things continue to go well, we will be able to go one step higher next year.
Tomo: I’m glad. Thank you.
Orita: Matsuyama is the closest fan to Monkey Base. But I shouldn’t put this into words, it’s too much of a pain (smiles). Of course, the “King of Comedy” final is our main goal for the year, but we would like to be the one that the managers and employees of the office say, “Let’s do a solo (live) show with Monkey Base.”
Tomo: We are supported by a really strong audience. Our immediate goal is to reach out to a wider range of people. I would like to be able to show more of that kind of sex appeal, as well as in the awards race.
In the second part, we will take a closer look at the charms of the three members, including the reason why they were able to win two consecutive office live performances, episodes from their school days, and the background to the trio’s formation.
Money Base is a comedy trio consisting of Tomohisa Orita, Hiroki Matsuyama, and Tomoyappu, all from Kagoshima Prefecture. Orita and Matsuyama formed the duo “Potential Hit,” while Tomoyappu formed the duo “Old Parr” (formerly “Methane Hydrate”) with a college friend before forming the trio in January 2020. Currently, they are energetically performing mainly at live concerts. This year, they and Dacho Club collaborated for the first time on a YouTube project for Hokuriku’s Pachinko and amusement facility “Quattro Boom”, where he was formally taught the art of reaction. They belong to Ota Production.
Interview and text by： Asahi Suzuki
Freelance editor/writer. Formerly a band member and a 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/
PHOTO： Ryosuke Watanabe (interview)