From a Comedian to the World Saku Yanagawa


Edited by  大阪大学広告研究会


――You have also had a book published before, right?

Yes, I have. Some poems I wrote were made into a book when I was 20 years old. It takes courage and time to make something from scratch, but I think that is why every piece of work shows the characteristics of the person that made it. That is why it inspires people. These two activities, performing on stage and writing on paper, are the same in the sense that they are both ways of expressing yourself.


――Are there any movies or books that have influenced you?

I used to watch movies alone when I was little. My favorite was Ace Ventura, starring Jim Carrey as the main character. It’s a thrilling slap-stick comedy in which a crazy pet detective solves cases. I watched it over and over again and remember all the lines to this day (although it was the Japanese dubbed version [laughs]). I was fascinated by his acting as a child and I still wish to become an actor like Jim Carrey in the future.


I think the book “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” had some influence on me too. I read it when I was little and read it for the second time last year around the time I decided to go to America. The story is set in southern America, in Missouri. When I read the book I didn’t know where Missouri was and had no idea what America was like, but it gave me some image of the big country and the excitement of having an adventure there. When I actually was there in America and having my own adventure there, I thought, “So this is what the land I was dreaming of is actually like”.


――Did actually going to America change your view of the world?

Yes. Everything I thought was “normal” wasn’t so at all there. For example, Japanese humor is usually based on everyday life. Like, say, I went to the supermarket yesterday and saw this, my wife did that, and things like that. I think this is because Japanese people all belong to few races and share the same kind of life based on the same culture. That’s why it’s possible to make everyday life a material for humor.

In America it doesn’t go the same way – there are people from various races and cultures, and everyday life isn’t something they share in common. That is why themes like religion, politics, race, science, and sex can become the basis of humor in America. There’s a stereotype for each race and each will make jokes about the others. They made those jokes to show that they aren’t willing to oppose to each other. It was one way of building a relationship between different races.

Also, when you go overseas, people would ask questions like “What kind of country is Japan?”, “Why do Japanese people do that?” or “What is Japan’s traditional art?” That is when you notice you don’t know much about your own country. I realized that “Learning about the world is learning about Japan” when I actually went to America.


――I heard that you are considering studying at a graduate school overseas in the future.

Yes, entering a graduate school overseas is one option. Another is to stay and keep performing in Chicago. Graduate schools in America always have drama courses where people can learn drama theoretically, and I know that successful actors have studied at those courses. That is why I’m interested in studying at an American Acting Graduate school. I will either go to an American graduate school like Yale or NYU, or carry on performing on stage at The Second City in Chicago after I finish my bachelors.

――By the way, I see from your photos that you like vivid-coloured clothes.

Yes that’s true. I always buy the same model from the same brand. [laughs] My favourite is the red one.


――But you’re wearing blue today.

The red one is in the laundry right now. [laughs]


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2018-04-30 16.13.17