Young Notable Comedian Kinkoku Reveals “What Comedians Really Think Before Award Races | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Young Notable Comedian Kinkoku Reveals “What Comedians Really Think Before Award Races

2022 Road to M-1 and KOC: "Kinkoku" [Part 1

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Onigiri Watanabe and Kensuke Momozawa of the comedy duo Kinkoku suddenly emerged as a force to be reckoned with last year. They won the “Tsugikuru Gejin Grand Prix 2021” and the “Mynavi Laughter Night Grand Champion Tournament” in rapid succession, and quickly became the focus of attention among young comedians.

The wall that stands in front of them is the “King of Contest,” the pinnacle competition for comedians. We asked the duo about their “true feelings” about this year’s King of Contest, including bitter memories of the competition, which comedians they consider their rivals, and why they are thinking about reducing the number of live performances before the qualifying rounds.

Watanabe Onigiri (left) and Momozawa Kensuke (right) of “Kinkokuni. They won the “Tsugikuru Gejin Grand Prix 2021” and the “Mynavi Laughter Night Grand Champion Tournament” in quick succession, and have quickly become a hot young duo (photo by Sugizo).

Just when you think you’ve got it…

  Since last year, you have been getting results in the awards race and are also active in variety shows. This year, you must have felt more determined to get results in the “King of Contest”?

Watanabe: Last year, we won the “Tsugikuru Gejin Grand Prix” and the “Mynavi Laughter Night” grand champion competition. People around us always say to us, “The King of Contest is next,” but we don’t have very good memories of the King of Contest.

Momozawa: Of course I want to be recognized as the King of Contest, but the pressure to win is too much for me to think about. Of course, we have to have two-minute and five-minute stories, so we always have to be aware of that when we make our stories. If I think about it too much, I get really tired of it.

–I heard that the manzai artists who have entered the M-1 Grand Prix for many years get a unique “bad feeling” at the beginning of the qualifying rounds. Do you feel that way in the King of Contest as well? 

Watanabe: Probably the same feeling.

Momozawa: The King of Contest has the highest ratio of going from the first round to the second round; the M-1 Grand Prix has the first, second, and third rounds and the quarterfinals, but the King of Contest has the first, second, and quarterfinals, so you get sifted out first.

When I was in the training school and in my first year, I made it to the second round. But in my second, third, and fourth years, I failed in the first round, so I really don’t have a good image of the competition. Especially last year, my fifth year, I felt that way a lot. I thought, “I’ve got it,” but then I was dropped, and I managed to get an extra pass. Then, at Corona, the quarter finals were video screening, and I still didn’t make it.

Watanabe: I was infected with corona. It was an indescribable feeling.

Momozawa: Just as I was thinking, Is this going to be a bad year? Of course, we always try to make an interesting two-minute segment and I never change my mind.

We don’t have very good memories of the King of Contest.

The reason for the increase in live performances was the Satsumakawa RPG.

–What do you think was the main reason for the lack of success in the awards until 2020?

Momozawa: I heard from the seniors around me that they would lose in the first round or something until their 7th year, and then at some point they would suddenly reach the semifinals or higher. I heard that there is such a thing as timing. So last year was frustrating, but I didn’t think it was strange.

Watanabe: My partner writes all the material, but most of it is written around me. So he gradually understood how to use me to make things interesting. 

Momozawa: So you are saying, “You had potential in the first place, but I didn’t understand it.

Watanabe: Oh, no, no! That’s not what I meant! (bitter laugh)

Momozawa: I don’t get it! I think I was simply not good enough. My acting skills were poor, and my writing skills were poor. I think it’s just that I’m getting a little better at it.

I heard that you have increased your number of live performances after Satsumakawa RPG introduced you to other live performances besides “Shimokita GRIP” (free live performances held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Shimokita Slash). Do you think that has had an impact?

Momozawa: The most important one is Satumakawa, but it was probably significant that I was introduced to gigs that I had not been able to attend before by other comedians around me. There are many customers who say, “I laugh because I often see this comedian at live performances. I think I have been able to gain the trust of these people.

Watanabe:I have been a regular Saturday performer at “Shimokita GRIP” for about a year and a half or two years now. As a regular performer, I can make a maximum of three appearances a day without paying an entry fee. Since then, I have had more opportunities, and since last year, I have been invited to other gigs with the introduction of Satmakawa-san and others. I think I have been trained through live performances.

I realized that in order to make two strong ones, you have to be aware that you have to make six…

If I dare to name a name, it would be Suspenders

–There have been some changes since last year’s King of Contest, such as a new set of judges and a final that is mainly made up of younger contestants.

Momozawa: With the exception of Bananaman-san, the judges are now a generation of people who have been doing story battles. I think that after the King of Contest started, the keys to how to fight and other things came out a little later, I feel like we are from the generation that came after the start of the King of Contest.

Watanabe:I think that even if the judges change, what they do will be the same in the end. The task of making interesting material itself remains the same.

Momozawa: The finalists from previous years might say, “The judges have changed, so let’s do it this way. I don’t think a newcomer like us has any right to think anything of the sort (laughs).

(laughs) — First of all, we want to make it through the preliminary rounds (laughs). By the way, are there any comedians you see as rivals in this year’s competition?

Watanabe: Right now, we have a unit called NAVENGERS with four members from our office. We are Fire Thunder, G-Pan Panda, Zen Monkey, and I. Only Fire Thunder has made it to the semifinals. The other three groups all made it to the  quarter finals.

I don’t like it if the other three teams make it to the finals first, or I feel frustrated. I don’t see us as rivals, but rather, I want to be the best among these three groups.

Momozawa: There are many people I want to win with, but I don’t really say, “I want to win with this person. In the same office, there is an interesting trio called “Gyoneko,” who are six months junior to me. But it’s not so much that I want to win, it’s more like “I want to be in the same group with them.

If I dare to mention a name, it would be Suspenders from Maseki (entertainment company). They were featured in the media at about the same time, and they are doing energetic work, which is similar. They have always been funny, so I think I would feel frustrated if they lost.

Watanabe:Suspenders and I were both finalists in three competitions at the same time (“Laugh Loudness GP,” “Tsugikuru Gejin Grand Prix 2021,” and “Laughter Night”). So I am quite eager to rise together with them. We are really good friends.

For the KOC, “I just have to slow down the pace of my performances.

–I think our immediate goal is to get results in the King of Contest. The preliminary round starts in a few months. Is there anything you are practicing for the competition?

Momozawa: Compared to other prize races, I feel differently. If you want to be recognized as a comedian, the King of Contest is the only competition where only comedians compete. I do feel that way about it.

Last year, I won the “Laughter Night” contest with a story that I had performed more than 40 times live. I think that even people who didn’t know us got the message. I think at that time, people didn’t know us, so they just thought, “There was a funny guy,” and soon forgot about us. But now that they know us, they have a stronger memory of “Kinkoku did this material” than they did last year. I actually felt it firsthand during the live performance and thought, “This is a big deal.

I think we need to take our time and work on putting it all together in a good way, while taking our time and putting it out in small pieces. Specifically, I need to reduce the number of gigs. The stronger the material, the more likely it is that people will say, “Oh, this material again” in the live scene already. The reaction is a little different this year, isn’t it?

Watanabe: It feels a little different.

Momozawa: I think that we need to slow down the pace of our production, but not the pace of our delivery. Shimokita GRIP” is an environment where we can’t have that many customers and we can’t distribute our music, so I thought I would polish it there (laughs).

Watanabe:We have to take advantage of our starting point (laughs). Usually, the qualifying rounds for the King of Contest start in mid-June, but there is the “ABC Comedy Grand Prix” (a comedy competition sponsored by Asahi Broadcasting Corporation) a little before that. Actually, we had never even made it to the final qualifying round. That was very frustrating.

Momozawa: In the ABC final qualifying round, there are many young comedians who are about the same age as us who can make it. That’s why it was so frustrating.

Watanabe: I’ve been feeling that way all the way to the King of Contest, so I want to leave a positive result at ABC as well. I want to at least make it to the final qualifying round, and since I have to have been in the ABC for 10 years or less, if I don’t make it too far, I won’t be able to compete anymore. I want to do well in ABC this year, and I would like to make a good impression to make it to the King of Contest.

–I heard that Hanako, who is from the same office as me, saw Akusei Shimobori win the 2017 “ABC~” competition and was fired up, saying, “I’m going to win all the awards races from the beginning of the year! I’m going to win every award race from the beginning of the year!

Momozawa: He is a monster! Every comedian has a vague goal for the King of Contest, such as “to make two strong, slightly longer pieces of material. But in most cases, it would be better if we could do one. Hanako-san was planning to make six that year.”

“ABC,” “NHK New Comedy Award,” and “King of Contest,” and that if he made six funny ones, he would get to go all the way. But he ended up making only 3.5 of them. I thought I would like to refer to that awareness. In order to make two strong pieces, you have to be aware that you have to make six pieces.

Watanabe: When you think about it like that, Hanako-san is really amazing (smiles).

Continued in Part 2

  • Interview and text Asahi Suzuki

    Freelance editor/writer. Former band member, former broadcaster. Loves all kinds of entertainment. He especially respects comedians. Currently updating his personal website, "Immortal Writing Blues.

  • Photo by Sugizo

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