“Which makes you happier, quitting or continuing?”
This is the “Let’s talk to comedians who quit” series on YouTube’s “Fujii Page Channel. Fujii Paige, who has been in the business for 27 years, asks former comedians why they quit, and the content is simple, but it’s popular because you can hear deep stories that are not shown on TV.
これまでに、元「シェイクダウン」後藤秀樹、元漫才師の野々村友紀子、元「ハリガネロック」大上邦博（現・おおうえくにひろ）、元「底ぬけAIR-LINE」小島忍、元「ツインカム」島根定義、元「ビッキーズ」木部信彦、元「ホーム・チーム」檜山豊、元「18KIN」大滝裕一 More than 30 former popular comedians have appeared on the show, including Hiroyuki Ieshiro (now Mambo Yashiro) of the former “Karika” and Ryoma Mochizuki of the former “Ennichi”.
The show is gradually gaining recognition not only among the core comedy fans in the comedian community and the Ombato generation, but also among those who are not familiar with the 90s and 2000s.
We asked Mr. Fujii, who is currently active on YouTube while continuing to be a comedian, about the people who have left a lasting impact on him and the difficulties of continuing and quitting as a comedian.
A divine project that has been waiting for more than 10 years and has blossomed on YouTube
What made you decide to do “Let’s Talk to Quit Comedians” on YouTube?
“In fact, I came up with this idea more than 10 years ago, and I had been vaguely thinking about the possibility of doing a series of articles for magazines, and I had been telling people about it for some reason… I started YouTube in 2018, and at that time I was mainly uploading my children’s growth records, but the number of views was not increasing very fast. That’s right. After that, I got used to editing little by little, so I approached Professor Ohwa, a former comedian, and he agreed to do this project.
Professor Ohwa and I have been friends for a long time, but at the time, I couldn’t ask him for details about quitting as a comedian. I don’t think he wanted to talk about it either. …… Now it’s been many years since he quit, and he told me many things, so I decided to make a series. By the way, it’s a coincidence that the start time coincided with Corona. We started out filming in karaoke boxes, but when Corona came along, we took a break, and then Zoom became popular, and that’s how we came to our current style.
Thanks to Corona, you’ve been able to listen to former comedians in Osaka.
Thanks to Corona, I’ve been able to talk to former comedians in Osaka. “I myself never thought about quitting as a comedian, and I used to wonder, ‘Why would I quit? I wondered, ‘Why would he do that? Also, sometimes people who I thought would never quit quit quit, and I started to want to know why.
In our time, the first thing we did was to throw ourselves into the world of comedians and dedicate our lives to succeed. But not everyone succeeds, and some people retire in the middle of their career. But when a person retires, his or her life doesn’t end, it goes on forever, and don’t you wonder how they live their new life after that? Isn’t there a place on YouTube called ‘Let’s talk to comedians who quit’ where you can ask them that?
Former 18KIN member Otaki said to me, “You don’t take it that seriously, do you?
Do you have any criteria for getting people to appear on your show?
“Basically, it’s people I know. Also, I don’t mean to sound rude, but at the root of this project is the idea that we want to hear from people who are on the verge of success. I’m sure that if they had been successful, they would not have quit and would still be active in the front line. But if they quit, it means that there was a reason and they decided to go in a different direction.
Did you notice any similarities among the comedians who quit?
“The common denominator is age and income. After a certain amount of artistic experience, when they compare these factors, I think they are drawn back to reality. Some people said, “Family. However, the reasons and circumstances that lead to this are different, and so far there is no same pattern.
One person who left a deep impression on me was Mr. Otaki, a former 18KIN member. I remember him saying to me, “Everyone doesn’t take it that seriously, do they? He told me that the reason why he was still working part-time after turning 30 was because he was protected by the armor of being a “comedian,” and that he had no choice but to be looked at harshly by the general public.
That’s why, he said, you have to win the award races and such. In the end, the people who are selling well on TV now are the ones who have won, so you have to make an effort to win in order to get there. In the end, the people who are selling TV now are the ones who have won. The others all said things that stuck with me. I personally felt like I was being cut off while listening to them (laughs).
Who do you want to hear this series from?
“I’d say people who are stuck in their lives. I think there are some hints for people who are thinking about changing jobs but can’t make up their minds to move on, or for people who are confused. Also, as an instructor at a comedy training school, I feel like I have a stronger sense of “why don’t you try harder? I feel like I have a stronger feeling for my students.
I understand that they are trying their best, and as a result, they quit, but I also feel that they are giving up too soon. That’s one way to go, but I wonder if they really regret it. I sometimes think, “Since I’ve entered the training school, why don’t I work harder? There are times when I wonder, “Isn’t that really regrettable?
Being a comedian is a special kind of work, a world where not even one in a hundred will succeed, but I’m sure they came in knowing that. I think it’s better to give it your all and quit when you’ve reached your limit.
(laughs) –You’ve also talked to comedians who don’t quit, right?
“You also talk to comedians who don’t quit. (laughs) There are cases where one of the duo has quit while the other continues to perform, so these days I don’t really think about the category of “quit comedians. For example, Gosei, who reunited last year. When I talk to each of them individually, I find that there are surprisingly many misunderstandings and differences of opinion. That’s what makes it interesting. I feel like I’m trying to be consistent on my own (laughs).
Who is happier, a comedian who quits or a comedian who continues?
There were times when non-comedians appeared on the show.
There were also appearances by people other than comedians: “Bull Nakano, a former female professional wrestler, and Yuri Saito, a former member of Nogizaka46. Both wrestlers and idols dedicate their lives to their work, so I was interested in them. When I actually listened to them, I found a lot of things that made sense to me, so if there are any other opportunities to talk to people in professions that have “retirement,” I’d like to do so without hesitation.
The difference between being a comedian and being a professional is that you have a goal in mind, and it’s up to you to work towards it and burn yourself out. In other words, comedians don’t have a goal. You have to decide for yourself where to draw the line. That’s why I reconfirmed that stories from former comedians are interesting.”
— “Is it happy to quit or to continue ……?
“It’s a difficult question. It’s a difficult question. Since I started this, people often ask me if I am going to quit, but I feel that I don’t want to quit. I think most people quit after they find a new job, but in my case, I have no idea what I will be doing after I quit. I used to think that if I lost my job altogether, I would have to quit under the circumstances, but since YouTube is like creating something from scratch by myself, I can continue indefinitely, and there is no reason for me to quit.
–What are your goals for the future?
Thankfully, the “Let’s Talk to the Quit Comedians” series seems to be gaining recognition little by little, and when I make an offer, most people say, “I’m watching. When Mr. Goto from the former Shakedown appeared on the show, Mr. Messenger talked about it on the radio, and I’m glad that the word is spreading in the comedian community.
I’m glad that the word is getting out in the comedian community, but there are many times when I get turned down. There are many reasons, such as “the company didn’t give me the OK,” or “I’ve been working behind the scenes, so I’ve decided not to appear on stage anymore.
I don’t know him, but I wanted to talk to Mr. Okeda of Folk Dance DE Naruko-zaka. He was alive when I came up with the idea for this project, but now I can’t talk to him anymore (both the duo have passed away). Since there are people like that, I feel more and more that I have to listen to them while I can. So, please don’t refuse to participate.
Interviewed and written by： Motoko Abekawa
Works as a freelance writer, mainly for the web. She is also involved in the production of books and corporate PR magazines. She does not specialize in any particular field, but writes about a wide range of topics that interest her, including history, comedy, health, beauty, travel, gourmet food, and nursing care.
Photography： Motoi Onishi