So it’s done! Over! I can finally take a step back and breathe! After a long month plus of preparation, practice, and figuring out how exactly to fill an entire hour of stage time, Iruka Punch’s first solo live show went off with minimal hitches and nary a tear to be seen.
The thing you learn the most when doing a solo comedy show in Japan? Pacing and tempo is everything. When working as an owarai conbi in Japan, you generally have two different categories of comedy to work with: manzai, Japanese “stand-up” comedy, and conte, a sort of minimalistic take on sketch comedy. My conbi, Iruka Punch, happens to have a foot in both pools, which makes doing a solo show a bit harder than it would have been if we had just simply have done an hour of manzai.
Our show consisted of six different netas (cleanly defined “stories”), three of them manzai and three of them conte, requiring a decent amount of wardrobe changes and set-up. In order to give us the required time in the dressing room, our live show production staff came up with a series of video interludes to ensure that the audience wasn’t left twiddling their thumbs while waiting for us to stuff ourselves into the costumes for our next sketch. At least, that was the plan. As we came to find out in the midsts of the actual show, two minutes of film per break weren’t nearly enough to give us time to get dressed, sop up our sweat, and control our breathing before the lights came up on the next zany comedy routine.
And so I can completely and wholeheartedly tell you that time simply flew on by and I don’t really remember a thing. Things went smoothly enough that none of the nearly fifty people assembled to watch a duo of comedians roughly six months into their pro comedy careers saw the need to boo us but at the same time there were rough patches that, if executed a bit better, would have guaranteed to bring in a better reaction than they did.
After our six netas passed, we had planned to proceed into a game corner where Leo had to correctly answer questions about American history or face dire consequences of the “zany Japanese game show” variety. Unfortunately, by that point, we were both exhausted, our earlier bits had run a little long and the corner ultimately fizzled to an end after two questions (but not before I somehow wound up having to eat a scorpion). That definitely could have gone better.
However, overall, What’s Iruka Punch!!! went off much better than we could have ever hoped and a fun time was (hopefully) had by all. Not to mention, having to come up with enough material to kill an hour of time has helped make sure Iruka Punch will never be bereft of a bit for a show ever again.
If you came to the show, thanks for everything and I hope you’ll find it in your cold hearts to come again. If you didn’t come, shame on you.