In the early days of “Dacho Club,” they used to make calculated talk shows. It’s hard to imagine now, but rather than being teased, they teased other people. I mean, I wanted to be an actor until I was invited to comedy by Djimon Terakado (58) and met the leader Katsuhiro Higo (58) to form the “Dacho Club. But for some reason, I became popular for my reaction art, and I found myself moving in a direction I hadn’t thought of, and people started to pay attention to me.
I’ve been able to do this for almost 30 years thanks to the big names and junior comedians who have teased me to make me taste better.
So confides Ryubei Ueshima (60) of the comedy trio Dacho Club, who celebrated his 60th birthday in January this year. There were “three turning points” in Ueshima’s life as a comedian.
Ueshima says that there were three turning points in his career as a comedian: “My reaction skills were discovered in ‘Beat Takeshi’s Comedy Ultra Quiz? (Nippon Television Network Corporation). At that time, the bubble economy was booming. There was no such thing as compliance, so the gimmicks were huge and scary. But strangely enough, it wasn’t hard for me. At first, I was just in the corner and couldn’t speak, but I decided to leave some kind of a mark, so I just tried to put my body on the line to get a laugh. I was happy to feel that my work was increasing day by day.
Beat Takeshi took me out to dinner a few times after recording, and he said to me, “Ueshima, you’re the one who’s making the punchline. He told me, ‘Ueshima, you’re the one who makes the punchline. Everyone else is just pretending, so you have to be grateful to the Takeshi Gundan and the people around you.
However, “Ultra Quiz! ended in 1996. However, “Ultra Quiz!” ended in 1996, and Ueshima next met Ken Shimura, who was 70 years old.
“The first time I met Mr. Shimura was in November of 1996. The first time I met Mr. Shimura was around November 1996, when professional wrestler Toshiaki Kawada(57) told me, ‘I’m having a drink with Mr. Shimura at Azabu Juban. He wants to meet Ryu-chan,’ and that’s when I went there. As soon as I met him, Mr. Shimura told me, “I’m going to show you in Bakadono.
I was drunk and didn’t believe him, but a little while later, my manager contacted me and said, “You’ve been selected for Bakaden. …… I was really happy. I was so happy. “Ken Shimura’s Bakadensama” (Fuji TV) was a dream show for us. After that, we were invited to Mr. Shimura’s comedy shows. One day, Mr. Shimura said to me, “It’s not normal for me to contact you and ask you out for a drink, it’s normal for you to contact me and ask me out for a drink. There were no cell phones in those days, so I called Mr. Shimura directly, but when he answered the phone, I was so nervous that I hung up right away.
Even when Mr. Shimura would say, “I’ve been getting a lot of prank calls lately, and I’m in trouble,” I couldn’t say, “That’s me” (laughs). (laughs) He’s like a comedy god. …… That’s how nervous I was at first.”
The key players in his third golden age were the younger comedians in the “Ryuhei-kai. It’s a great way to get to know the people you’re working with. Ueshima reveals a secret episode.
“It all started when I saw ‘Downtown’ inviting their younger colleagues to dinner after the show and I thought, ‘I envy them. He invited other comedians who were not yet successful at the time, and the “Ryuhei-kai” was born. At first, everyone seemed to be nervous when they met me. …… It may be hard to imagine now, but even Ariyoshi once sat on the floor waiting for me to come (laughs).
(laughs) But while we were drinking, I got drunk and started crying half the time, and he said, “What am I going to do now? Whenever I wasn’t feeling well, I would drink with my juniors. They were trying to talk to me about various things, but the person they were talking to got drunk and started crying. It wasn’t long after that that everyone started falling off their feet (laughs). (laughs) Every day was really fun. Ariyoshi would drink out of my bottle without permission and put lotion in it instead. He would drink my bottle without my permission and put lotion in it, and I would say, “This shochu is really stringy,” and he would laugh hysterically.
Another time, when we were drinking at a junior’s house, the leader popped an air cannon and Gekidan Hitori pissed his pants in shock. It was like the days of a college student’s joke. They never get tired of messing with me, and they’re all so cute and reliable. I didn’t think they would all sell so well, though (laughs).
The last words I exchanged with Shimura
Ueshima has been in the comedy business for 36 years. Naturally, he has had his ups and downs. As mentioned above, he was given a helping hand on each occasion, but it is his memories of Shimura that continue to support Ueshima. He revealed his relationship with Shimura in his later years, which he has never talked about before.
“When I was younger, after working with Mr. Shimura, we would go straight to a drinking party. We would have dinner in Azabu Juban, have a few drinks, and then go to a high-class club around 10:00 pm. I had never been to an upscale club before, so I had a lot of fun and stayed up until around 4 in the morning. When I told Mr. Shimura that I was going to appear on a live children’s TV program later, he said, “Why don’t you just go on like this?” So I did, and he never invited me on the program again (laughs).
It was only recently that Ueshima came to accept the death of Shimura.
“It was only recently that Ueshima came to accept Shimura’s death. I knew that he was in the hospital, but I didn’t think he was in such a bad condition. While appearing on a memorial program, in my heart I didn’t believe in the fact that Mr. Shimura was no longer in this world. This year at Obon, I finally came to accept the fact that he had passed away.
Still, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Mr. Shimura. Whenever I see sweet potatoes on the street, Mr. Shimura would say, “When I was a kid, sweet potatoes were dry and tasted bad. When I see sweet potatoes on the street, I remember Mr. Shimura saying, “When I was a kid, sweet potatoes were dry and bad, and I still hate them. As long as my brain doesn’t go blank, I’ll never forget him, and I’ll live my life remembering him every day.
The last time they spoke to each other was one month before Shimura passed away. It was at Shimura’s 70th birthday party.
“I arrived early that day and had about 30 minutes alone with Mr. Shimura before everyone else arrived. He said, ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve had a drink with Ryu-chan. It’s been a while since I’ve had a drink with you. We talked about going out for a drink again, but then Corona started to become popular, and the timing didn’t work out. In the end, he was going out drinking alone. I had to refrain from doing that too, you know. I’m sure he must have felt lonely. ……”
We asked Ueshima about his goals now that he has reached the age of 60.
“I’d like the three of us from the Ostrich Club to bloom one more time. I want to be aggressive. It’s tough in this day and age, but I’d like to take a hot water bath again someday, or have a hot oden.
Shimura in heaven must be watching Ueshima’s struggles with his favorite drink in hand.
From the September 10, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
Photographed by： Shinji Hamasaki