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.
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. http://s-akira.jp/