About a week ago, I randomly realised that I had been performing comedy in New Zealand for almost 15 years.
Time flies, indeed…
Though I have changed the forms of my comedic expression, I have been pretty consistently involved in comedy until today. It’s nothing to do with my suitability or will power, but it’s like a bad addiction that I can’t get rid of.
I started my comedy career as a stand-up comedian.
I don’t remember the exact date I did my first open mic, but it was in the first week of November in 2004. The MC of the night was my favourite comedian, Mark Scott.
I was pretty average as a stand-up comedian (just good enough to make tens and tens of dollars), but stand-up taught me the basic of the western comedy like its timing, delivery, and the Kiwi sense of humour, which was the hardest for me to pick up.
There were some highlights and lowlights just like in any old career.
I disappeared from the stand-up scene when my wife and I decided to start a family. It was my attempt to become a responsible adult… but it wasn’t quite successful.
Remember? I’m an addict.
As the lure of comedy was too strong, I soon started getting involved in improv comedy with a hope that I wouldn’t have to spend hours writing materials anymore.
I was wrong.
I still had to practice quite a bit. There were heaps of workshops to attend.
I did some awesome scenes and devastatingly awful scenes along the way.
Again, I was quite an average improviser. I still have so much respect for good improvisers. If you master improv, you can pretty much accomplish most things in your life.
In 2016, when I was just about to turn 40, I questioned myself what I really wanted to do with my life. It was clear that I wanted to do rakugo, the Japanese traditional comedy I learned when I was a teenager.
Rakugo has been a big part of my life since I was around 10. When I was at university, I loved rakugo so much that I attempted to become an official apprentice of a rakugo performer.
I chickened out at the last minute because I didn’t have confidence to survive the traditional, feudalistic training. I gave up the traditional pathway to learn the art and instead decided to study theatre in America where I spent the next 5 years of my life.
I was very lucky to meet my English rakugo master Kanariya Eiraku, who was willing to teach the art to me in a long distance relationship. I am very delighted and proud that his art has been receiving international recognition in recent years. I am very excited that I will possibly perform with him next year both in New Zealand and Australia!!!
After all these years of performing comedy (4 years in Japan, 5 years in US, and 15 years in NZ), I eventually went back to rakugo where I started.
This reminds me of the parable in Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”.
I already had the treasure when I started out.
Many years later, I finally realised that I had been carrying the treasure all along!!!
Now I know what my real treasure is.
If you are reading this paragraph, you must be either my family, close friend, hardcore fan, or stalker. Thank you very much for your continued support!!! I still do what I do because of the people like you!!!
Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!!!
Now get back to work!