Watanabe Onigiri (left), with his trademark smile and shaved head, and the cool Kensuke Momozawa (right), a graduate of the Manga Kenkyukai. Can these two up-and-coming comedians still make it to the “King of Contest,” the competition to determine the best comedians in Japan?
You’re a terrible storyteller
–In the first year of your career, you seemed to take the stance of asking for advice on your material from those around you. Was there ever a time when you were sharply focused on “valuing your own worldview”?
Momozawa: When I was in college, I was in a manga research group. The people who didn’t get good at drawing didn’t draw as much or as many pictures as they wanted to. Because I saw that, I thought that “doing a lot of drawings” and “taking in opinions” were absolutely necessary for any kind of work.
No matter how good your reputation is at the training school, you are definitely not as good as the legends. If that were the case, it would be easier to ask the people who are better than us. On the other hand, I didn’t understand people who didn’t listen to the opinions of others. I think you should definitely incorporate the opinions of people you find interesting.
–Who gave you the advice that you felt “clearly changed the popularity of the game” and what kind of advice was it?
Momozawa: I think it was when Satsumakawa RPG told me, “You’re not very good at making up stories.” Then, when he told me more about it, he didn’t say, “There’s a better way,” but rather, “You’re not very good at it.” I thought about it and changed the way I was going to tell the story, and the same story got a completely different response.
I was told this during the second and third parts of “Shimokita GRIP” (free live performances held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at “Shimokita Slash”), and when I tried it in the third part, the reaction changed. That’s the “forgoing” story, and it changed a lot from there. That’s why I said, “Satumakawa-san, you are amazing.”
–Watanabe-san, is there anything you were conscious of in honing your acting ability?
Watanabe: From the very beginning, Momozawa wrote the scripts for me, and he did all the directing, including the direction of the acting. For example, he would say, “When you do this performance, try to imagine Bananaman Himura’s performance,” or “Be aware of Hanako Okabe’s expression and the way he opens his eyes.”
I would take such advice and actually watch the performance, little by little. In my training school classes, I was always told that I was a bad actor. Whenever I did something, they would laugh at me.
Momozawa: I wasn’t the one saying it, it was mainly the people around me (laughs).
Watanabe: It was quite a shock, and I was always thinking how frustrating it was. Now, little by little, people tell me that my acting is good, so I am very happy.