Westland Iguchi talks about the crisis facing young comedians today
～Drinking is what makes comedians interesting.
Comedians today are boring.
I’m not talking about material, but about motivation. Hiroyuki Iguchi of “Westland,” a finalist in the M-1 Grand Prix 2020, explains that for comedians, “drinking places” after work have meaning. There is actually a deeper reason behind Iguchi’s actions, as he has established a “beer club” with his fellow comedians and actively engages in drinking nikkai himself.
This is how “bitchy manzai” was born.
Iguchi first became aware of the world of comedy when he was in elementary school. He was a very serious person, and when he warned a friend who was joking around during a soccer club activity, he was told, “Don’t go into it so hard! He was a big TV kid and a funny guy.
I was a big TV kid and watched a lot of comedy shows. At the time, I thought there was only Yoshimoto (Kogyo), but in “Bokyabura Tengoku,” for example, the name of the agency was displayed along with the name of the duo, like “Bakusho Mondai (Titan). From there, I became more aware of the path of comedy.
There were so many people in Yoshimoto that I thought I would be buried even if I joined. I didn’t think about going to a training school, so I decided to go to a place I could go to and found “Titan” (……).
With Titan as his first choice, he applied to several companies to show his work, but was rejected by all of them. Later, when the timing coincided with the company’s hiring of young talent for the first time in 10 years, he was able to get his revenge.
Before his breakthrough, he lived in an apartment without a bath for less than 40,000 yen. He did not dare to work part-time so that he could attend auditions at any time, which would have made it difficult for him to be flexible. Still, he drank every day in Koenji, where he lived at the time, and other places.
Although he has now established his own style of “whiny manzai,” he says with a laugh, “Basically, I’m not popular.
No one supports me (laughs). (Laughs.) People who come to my live performances want to relieve stress from their daily work and forget the real world, but it would be terrible if I said, “This is what reality is like! But the reality is just like this! That’s why the contrarians are more popular!”
At first, it was a self-deprecating joke involving appearance, but it started to get laughs when he gradually started blaming others for his lack of attractiveness. From there, he established his bitchy manzai (comic dialogue), and by 2020 he had risen to become an M-1 finalist. At first glance, talking bad about others might seem like a recipe for flames, but in fact, he says, it’s not particularly so.
He says, “In other words, I’m not saying much (laughs). (Laughs.) “It’s like, ‘Oh, he’s saying something again. I make it sound like I’m always saying things from a lower position, so that’s my technique.
“Comedians who recently started as comedians are quitting very quickly.
It seems that young comedians are quitting the business very quickly these days. Are there fewer comedians like Iguchi who have the guts to continue their “whiny manzai” while claiming that they are not popular?
I thought at first that he had no guts. When I was a comedian, it was common for people to come to the company thinking they wouldn’t sell for 10 years. But then I thought about it, and for the past two years or so, because of the new coronavirus, we no longer have a party after our gigs, so it’s boring, of course. In the first or second year as a comedian, you don’t get any good material, and you just go home after a few bad performances. ……
For comedians, whose job it is to make people laugh, a drink with like-minded friends and seniors is a place to exchange information, review their material, and meet people with whom they can listen to their problems and complaints, and it is a source of energy to continue their work. It is not easy for young comedians in their first or second year to get their material to be popular, and most of the time they are devastated when their material fails. It is precisely at times like these, Iguchi says, that the very existence of “launches” is important. The COVID-19 crisis has eliminated the opportunity, and the lack of a place to follow up has left him without a place to turn to for comfort.
Drinking with fellow comedians after a show is really fun,” he says. When you are just starting out, you have to pay to perform live, and even if you start getting paid, you still only get paid 1,000 to 2,000 yen. But even so, you still spend about 3,000 yen to go out for drinks (laughs).
(Laughs) In the end, most people who quit a duo do so because they don’t get along with each other. If you have a place to go out for drinks with various people, you may be able to hear your partner complain (I don’t know if this is a good thing or not), and you may be able to get sympathy and advice. It is especially hard for comedians to not be able to do that, because it is at the drinking places that they make new friends. Some comedians these days say, “I’ve never been to a party,” and I wonder what they enjoy about being a comedian. I wonder what they enjoy about being a comedian.
Overcoming difficult times
In the midst of all this, one of his fellow comedians (and himself?) has become a receptacle. The “Beer Club” has also served as a support system for fellow comedians (and himself?).
The “Beer Club” is just a name. We share things like, “I drank here today!” or go to craft beer events. When we started doing that, we got into the COVID-19 crisis, so we decided to do something like ‘Zoom drinking,’ and we’re doing it in a relaxed way. There are people who are like, “Does this guy really like beer? There are guys who are like, “Does this guy really like beer?
(Laughs)” He is not particular about what he drinks, but enjoys the lively atmosphere. But this relaxed atmosphere is an oasis in the hearts of the comedians. Iguchi is also involved in other activities such as YouTube, but the secret to continuing his work is to “take it easy.
It’s good to do things in a relaxed manner, without being too rigidly determined, for sure. I am often told that I have a strong mentality, but I have never been conscious of it, and those who feel that I am weak may be overly conscious of it.
Iguchi himself has had several difficult times up to the present. From her selection as a regular on “Laugh It Up! and then to the finalist of M-1, his exposure decreased drastically, and there were scandals known as ” Iguchin-land. However, he says that people around him only say that it was a difficult time for him.
Personally, I feel that I was particularly happy when I was on “Iitomo! I have never felt that the next 7 or 8 years were a bad time or that I was at the bottom of my rope. I’m the type of person who thinks that nothing is wasted. All comedians spend their time thinking, “Someday things will work out. I think this is a bad thing for comedians (laughs).
For comedians, this casual attitude is probably the secret to creating “fun” out of everyday occurrences.
The world of comedians is not very efficient, and there are no copyrights. In the case of singers, a hit song becomes more interesting the more you sing it,” he said. I am really happy when my material is popular, and the best stimulus for me is to make people laugh, so I don’t need anything else.
The same material may or may not get laughs, depending on the timing and the era in which it is performed. There is no right answer to what is popular, but comedians always hope for it and keep trying to fight the battle with only one expiration date, and some veteran comedians even say, “That is why it is so beautiful. Some veteran comedians even say, “That’s why it’s so beautiful.” As a comedy lover, it is pleasant to see comedians enjoying themselves, including their material. As the COVID-19 crisis begins to dawn, I look forward to a lively atmosphere filled with “interesting” comedians.
◆Corresponding author: ” HIGHBURY-THE HOME OF BEER- ” (Shinjuku Gyoen)
Interview and text： Kukku Shohei (Shohei Sato) Photographed by： Riki Kashiwabara