If I didn’t win, I would have quit being a comedian. I was thinking about getting a part-time job.
Shinichi, 36, a farewell performer who won the “R-1 Grand Prix 2022” by singing poisonous lyrics in a beautiful voice, gave a distant look to FRIDAY’s direct interview.
It was the last year of his 10-year career as a performer, and he was crowned the winner. The man who once struggled without even finding an agency to belong to looks back on the days leading up to his big comeback victory.
He recalled his days until he made his big comeback. “The two guys from ‘Sandwich Man,’ who were my seniors at the office, and Mr. Nagano (47), who helped me make up stories right up to the end. My parents who helped me financially. When I won, the first thing that came to mind was the faces of these five people.
Immediately after winning the championship, she cried. I couldn’t have won the championship by myself,” she said, overflowing with words of gratitude.
I didn’t sell well at all, so I didn’t have any money. The person who helped me the most was Sandwich Man. He not only bought me dinner, but also gave me a New Year’s gift of 10,000 yen at New Year’s and bought me clothes for anything I wanted. …… My stage name was given to me by Mr. Date (Mikio, 47). He got the idea from the way he bowed to the audience and “saw them off” at the theater until the end. Takeshi Tomizawa (47) said, “Grab your guitar! I was able to establish my current style because he told me to sing my best songs,” he said.
It was Nagano who consulted with him about material.
I had known Mr. Nagano since I first joined his office in 2001, but he is a strict performer, and at the time, I think he didn’t like me because he thought I was ‘a lackey of my seniors and unserious about my craft. But as I continued to perform on stage, he must have seen me, because he asked me, “Would you like to join me in a live performance? He invited me to join him. That was last May.
Since then, he started asking me for advice on material. Before the final of “R-1,” he gave me specific advice, such as, “If your tongue-in-cheek material is too sharp, you will be rejected,” and “Don’t use the material ‘Sari Kato, who professes to be a Carp girl but is not invited to the first pitch ceremony. That was very helpful.
A Word from My Parents That Inspired Me to Change My Mind
Shinichi looks back on his artistic career and says, “I took many detours. In 2009, after graduating from college, he debuted with a duo from Shochiku Entertainments, but the duo broke up after two years. After that, he was unable to even pass auditions for the agency. For two and a half years, he did not work as a comedian at all. He had been inactive as a comedian for two and a half years, until he met his current manager, who took him on, but the reality was harsh.
She was in last place for 10 months in a row at the office’s live shows. I was criticized, saying, ‘It’s not funny and it kind of pisses me off. Out of that frustration, I began to write down my daily observations and anger in a notebook. I had never been sarcastic in my life, but when I shared my tongue at a live performance, it was well-received. That was the origin of my current style.
His parents were opposed to his becoming a comedian, but they silently sent him money. One word from his parents inspired Shinichi to take a leap of faith.
They gave me more than 10 million yen, including tuition and debts. When I went back to my hometown three years ago, my parents told me, ‘We’re not going to sell the factory in case you don’t make it as a comedian, but we’ll keep it. I thought to myself, “My parents have supported me through thick and thin, and now I have to tell them this? That lit a fire inside me. I vowed that I would do whatever it took to sell and make my family as comfortable as possible.”
He devoted himself to his art single-mindedly and successfully won the “R-1” championship. However, he is not in the least bit proud.
I have been indebted to my friends and family. So from now on, I want to earn a lot of money to repay them. After the finals, Mr. Date and Mr. Tomizawa reminded me, “It’s just the beginning. I was once again fired up, thinking, ‘I’m going to sell this for sure.
The detour I took led me to many encounters. The real test of my ability as a farewell performer is yet to come.
From the March 25, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Takero Shigumura