Ryuhei Ueshima. He just turned 60 last year.
“I hope the three of us in the “Ostrich Club” can make it bloom once more. Don’t forget to be aggressive. It’s tough in this day and age, but I’d like to take a hot bath or have hot oden again someday.”
On January 11, we learned that Ryuhei Ueshima, a colorful figure in the world of Japanese entertainment, passed away at the age of 61. He was 61 years old, and the question of why in the world, such a thought runs through my mind. In an interview last year just after his 60th birthday, Ueshima said, “I want to make it bloom once more.” We are republishing this article here to confirm and commemorate his achievements to date.
The Program that Discovered Me
“It was on “Beat Takeshi’s Laughter Ultra Quiz” (Nippon Television Network Corporation) that my reaction skills were discovered. At the time, we were in a bubble economy, and the economy was booming. There was no such thing as compliance, so the tricks 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 wanted to leave some kind of mark, so I put my body on the line and tried to get people to laugh. I was happy to feel that my work was increasing day by day.”
Beat Takeshi took me out to dinner several times after recording, and he said to me, “Ueshima, I’m making it so that you can be the punchline. Everyone else is just pretending, so you have to be grateful to Takeshi’s army and the people around you.”
However, “Ultra Quiz! ended in 1996. In the midst of all this, Ueshima next met Ken Shimura (70 years old).
“I first met Mr. Shimura around November 1996. I was told by professional wrestler Toshiaki Kawada (57), “Come to Azabu Juban where I am having a drink with Mr. Shimura. He wants to meet Ryu-chan.” As soon as I met him, Mr. Shimura told me, ‘I’m going to put you on Bakadono.”
I was drunk and didn’t believe him, but a little later the manager contacted me and said, “Bakadono has been decided. I was really happy. I was really happy. “Shimura Ken’s Bakadono” (Fuji Television) was like a dream come true for us. After that, we started getting invited to Shimura’s comedy shows. I was really happy about that.”
The Birth of Ryuhei Society
The key players in the golden era were the junior comedians who belonged to “Ryuhei Kai. The group now boasts eminent members such as Teruyuki Tsuchida (48), Hiroyuki Ariyoshi (47), and Hitori Gekidan (44), all of whom are now extremely successful comedians. Ueshima reveals a secret episode.
“I saw ‘Downtown’ inviting his junior comedians to dinner after the show and thought, “I envy him.” At first, everyone seemed nervous when they met me. It may be hard to imagine now, but there was a time when even Ariyoshi was sitting on his knees waiting for me to come (laughs).
(Laughs.) But as we were drinking, I got drunk and started crying half the time, and said, “What am I going to do now?” Whenever I wasn’t feeling well, I would have a 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 to lose their footing (laughs). Every day was really fun. Ariyoshi would drink out of my bottle and put the lotion in it instead. We laughed a lot when he saw me drinking it, saying, “This shochu is so stringy! “
Another time, when we were drinking at the house of one of our juniors, the leader of the group blew the air cannon, and Gekidan Hitori peed himself in shock. Those were the days of college kids had a bad time. They never got tired of picking on me, and they are all cute and dependable. I didn’t think they would all sell so well, though (laughs).
We asked Ueshima about his goals as he turns 60.
“I would like to see the three of us in the ‘Ostrich Club’ blossom once more,” he said. It’s tough in this day and age, but I’d like to take a hot bath or have hot oden again someday.”
Ueshima’s determination to make the flower bloom again and again has gone unfulfilled. A big hole has been left in the world of Japanese variety shows.