In case you haven’t been keeping track (you haven’t), What’s Manzai?!!! has been out on Netflix for over a half year now and, much to my welcome surprise, people are still stopping me on the street to talk about it.
So, yes, I am that dude from that one thing you might have watched on Netflix and, yes, I am an actual struggling comedian with actual struggling comedian problems, problems that a Netflix film debut and the subsequent slight surge of recognition that came with it did nothing to really alleviate.
I’m writing this blog post in a Starbucks bathroom. Why? Because I’m an internet freeloader but also don’t want to pay three hundred yen for coffee. Also, I’m broke, which I’m pretty sure is simply a rite of passage for anyone going down the career path that I am. Also, Japanese toilet seats are super comfy so I could literally spend hours here without feeling too much rectal distress.
All those rumors you hear about how little the little guy gets in the Japanese industry? They’re true. Long hours of work promoting big acts and their shows are rewarded by menial wages ranging from no money at all to, if you’re lucky, a five thousand yen payout (around fifty American dollars for those of you unacquainted with Japanese money). Appearance slots? They come during working hours on a weekday when pretty much no one can come, leaving you performing to a mostly empty theater. And money for those stage appearances? You’ve gotta be kidding.
My owarai combi, Iruka Punch, is among the busier groups among my first year comedian peers, but since we don’t actually get paid for a lot of the work we do (and get paid very little when we actually do), we are among the poorer people around. This might seem odd looking at it from the outside, but, in the world of up-and-coming Japanese comedians, the broker you are, the busier you are.
In that sense, I guess me complaining about how little money I have is probably the world’s worst humblebrag.
But what I don’t have in money, I do have in the currency of randomly getting accosted by tourists in Shibuya. And for that, I thank you, all of you, who watched Yoshimoto Creative Agency’s half-documentary, half-whatever-the-hell-that-was and thought enough of it to remember me and my face (but not my name for whatever reason). If you had the courage to approach me in public and talk about What’s Manzai?!!! and ever felt like I gave you the short shrift, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I was probably running late for a stupid work thing or had bad diarrhea (the frequency of my diarrhea outbreaks has increased ten fold since Netflix put out my show) or, quite frankly, didn’t want to do something super duper uncool. If you ever run into me again, please feel free to strike up a conversation, ask for a picture, give me a couple thousand yen, heck, I’ll even accept good book recommendations if you have them. And that goes to you people yet to have met me as well!
Well, speaking of bowel problems, there’s a dude pounding on the door to this bathroom stall so this is where I’ll be leaving you for today. A fitting end for another meandering post about the struggles of an American trying to hit it big where a simple bunt would suffice.
So here’s to 2017! Let it be a year full of joy, work, and, hopefully, a little more spending money.
PS, not sure I should be saying this yet but stay tuned for more What’s Manzai?!!! news to come in hopefully the very new future.
PPS, if you aren’t following me already, I waste a lot of time farting around on TWITTER.
PPPS, my comedy partner and I are also working on setting up an English-language Japanese comedy live in Tokyo in the coming year so stay tuned for that.