Knights is a talented comedy duo. Their manzai (comical dialogue) at yose (entertainment halls for traditional performances) is also highly valued. Knights has also received a newcomer award in fine arts from Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. In this interview, the duo talks about their thoughts about Soka University

Tell us what experience and episodes made you grow when you were a university student.

HanawaI was an absolute broke for four years of my university years. Compared to my life after graduation, I was not eating anything decent. I used to get colds easily. I learned my lesson from this experience, and now I look after my body. I have consumed more than a lifetime limit of rice balls at convenience stores, cola, and instant noodles. I can’t even bring myself to eat those things again (laughs).

TsuchiyaMy experience was different because I was living with my parents. What I gained during my university years is the ability to have conversations with various kinds of people. From my high school years until about my first year at university, I only talked with certain friends. Since I joined the Rakugo Study Club in the second half of my second year, I became able to have conversations and to communicate with various types of people.

What made you join the Rakugo Study Club?

HanawaFor me, it was their live shows on campus. I was a regular audience member from the middle of my first year through to the end of my second year.

TsuchiyaA live show—it was my first time to watch a live comedy show. It was insanely funny, and I decided to join the club straight away. It seemed that joining the club would fix my anti-social tendencies. The practice at the rakugo club wasn't strict. Senior members looked after younger ones well.

Manzai differs from free conversation
—I didn't understand the meaning of this when my seminar tutor told me this during my university years,
but now I understand

Tell us about any episode that left a deep impression on you.

HanawaI was living in Saga Prefecture and came to Tokyo to take the recommendation-based entrance exam. Senior students from the same prefecture arranged my accommodations and made lunch on the next day without me even asking. On my first day of university after I passed the exam, they welcomed me with a handmade hanging banner to celebrate me. This is a precious memory for me. Another event that left a deep impression on me was the 100-kilometer marathon that I planned when I was in the fourth year. I wanted to leave something memorable. My plan was to start the marathon at my hometown of Abiko, in Chiba Prefecture, and finish at Hachioji in 24 hours. But this went completely different from my plan. It took me 48 hours to complete the course, and my thigh was bleeding badly.

TsuchiyaThe episode leaving a deep impression on me was the “100-person sketch,” as I called it. I made a real effort because the founder was going to watch it on video. However, it was rather hard for each of the 100 club members to say lines as a funny man at the right timing. I recall that we practiced the sketch again and again.

HanawaAnother episode for me was that my seminar tutor, Prof. Koichi Kandachi, once pointed out that my sketches were not based on a script. I protested by saying: “As long as my sketches are funny, what’s wrong?” He replied: “You don’t understand comedy at all.” I thought to myself: “Why do I have to be told such things from an economics teacher?” Now, I understand what he meant. He was saying that manzai differs a bit from free conversation. I now view manzai in a similar way. So, when I realized that, I thought to myself: “Wow, Prof. Kandachi is amazing. He had such a vision back then.”

TsuchiyaI don’t remember anything that stands out in particular. However, it was in one of the seminars when I gained the learning that once I become a working adult, I need to win the trust of others by myself.

I want as many people as possible to watch live comedy shows.
I want to spread the fun and pass the art to future generations.

You are also directors of Manzai Kyokai. What is your aspiration for the future, in this role?

HanawaI think it was a sense of responsibility that made me take on the role of director. It is a position that everyone wants to avoid. However, I have stuck to the rule I made when I was a university student: I would do things that others don’t want to do. My choice to become a director was based on this rule.

TsuchiyaAs a director of Manzai Kyokai, I want as many people as possible to watch live comedy shows. I want to spread the fun and pass the art to future generations. I think that will be my role.

HanawaI love baseball. I want to pitch at 160 kilometers per hour. But the reality is that I can pitch only at 80 kilometers per hour. Likewise, I really want to eat something very yummy, but the reality is that I want someone else to cook it for me rather than prepare it myself. Many people want to transform their pain into humor but cannot. In my case, I am kind of "preparing" humor on behalf of them. We do it for them, and they enjoy our humor. I want to be this type of professional comedian.

※ Interview article from SUN issue No. 100

Nobuyuki Hanawa
Graduation year/Faculty:Graduated in 1999/Faculty of Economics
Nobuyuki Tsuchiya
Graduation year/Faculty:Graduated in 2000/ Faculty of Economics

In 2007, they became members of the Rakugo Art Association. They received the status of shinuchi from the Manzai Kyokai (a manzai association) in November 2010. In 2015, they became directors of Manzai Kyokai. The duo belongs to the Maseki Geinosha agency.

Soka University Rakugo Study Club

Established in 1971; the club currently has over 120 members. It holds six major live shows per year, two of which (in summer and winter) are open to the public. The club won the first prize in the Daigakugeikai tournament in 2016, in which comedy clubs from various universities compete via their performance. In 2018, Dysonweiper, from the club, participated in the College Students M-1 Grand Prix and won first place among 218 groups. Apart from Knights, this club has produced ELECTRIC COMIC and other performers active at the forefront of the entertainment field.