「 Wait, weren’t you comedians? You should make people laugh at all times, isn’t that what makes you the real deal? 」
Kyouko-san’s voice echoes to the studio a few seconds behind.
The comedians are all looking down.
「 You seem to be lacking in energy! Hey now, someone, show me a skit 」
Nobody’s reacting even when Kyouko-san told them.
『 W-We’ll try again! 』
Snatch, the bald comedian shouts.
『 Let’s go! Ogu! 』
『 But, Snatch 』
It seems that the partner has no confidence.
『 You idiot! If we back off from that, then we’re not comedians! 』
『 But! T-There’s a bomb in here! 』
Ogu is a fat performer, he’s trembling on his knees.
『 Won’t it be dangerous if we make another failure? 』
「 Well, that’s how it is. However, it’s different from what you think 」
Kyouko-san’s voice echoes.
「 By the way, you two are done. After watching your skit once, I can see that you’re not an “art” performer. Your level is only on a college student performing at a banquet 」
『 W-W-W-What did you say?! 』
「 Do you call yourself a professional with such level of art? Are Japanese people thinking that this is really interesting? 」
『 B-Bitch. What do you know?! 』
Snatch is fired up.
『 Stop it, snatch. T-There’s a bomb! 』
『 I don’t care about that!! This bastard is making fun of our art! She’s making a fool of us and laughing at it! Are you okay with that?! 』
Hearing Snatch’s words. Kyouko-san laughed.
「 What the hell is that?! Do you comedians not want to be laughed at?! 」
『 Don’t laugh at me! I’m making my audience laugh! That’s my art! 』
He says proudly, but.
「 What’s that? I didn’t laugh though? 」
『 You’re a foreigner! You can’t even understand the subtle comedy of the Japanese 』
「 My grandfather was a Japanese born immigrant from Brazil you see. As you can hear I have no problems speaking in Japanese. I’ve been watching comedy shows from Japan since forever. Back then, I illegally rent those videotapes of a Japanese comedy program 」
「 Well, that doesn’t matter how. I’m the one who holds the 54 detonation switches of the bombs scattered around the country. You have to satisfy me 」
『 Goddammit! 』
Snatch trembles in rage.
「 I see! Then, time to press the switch! 」
Kyouko-san said. Everyone in the studio freezes.
But, nothing’s happening.
『 D-Don’t frighten us like that!!! 』
「 Seriously, you all think about yourself 」
She laughs sadistically.
「 Hey now, someone on the broadcast. Report what’s going on. Oh, make sure to put Shirasaka Yukino-chan and these comedians on the side. I want to see their reactions 」
『 Err, we’re at our headquarters building in Tokyo. Earlier, we heard a loud sound and a massive shake. Err. It seems that the globe viewing studio on the 36th floor of the building has blown up 』
『 Yes, we’re from the front of the head office building, looking up from the bottom, the globe studio on the 36th floor, which was the symbol of this building has been completely destroyed! Ah, there’s fire rising up again! 』
The upper part of the television station managed by Shirasaka house is burning.
『 Err, thanks to our dear and beloved Kyouko Messer, overflowing with love and kindness, she has sent a notice of her crime beforehand so miraculously, there were no casualties. Thank you, Kyouko Messer-sama! Hallelujah Kyouko! Kyouko-sama Banzai! 』
The announcer screams desperately. He’s half-crying.
「 Okay, that’s good enough! Well, that’s one bomb less, and there are 53 remaining! 」
Kyouko-san speaks in a bright tone.
「 However, that’s all my freebies. The next one would detonate without notice of evacuation 」
The studio fell silent.
「 The next one might have someone dead you know?! And there might even be a lot of people 」
One of the reporters sitting on the audience seat stands up.
『 This is violence! Isn’t this just terrorism! 』
「 Yes. I’m just teaching you our extreme terrorism 」
『 D-Don’t give us that bullshit! Japan will never give in to such threats! 』
「 Hmm, who are you again? 」
『 I’m Sugimori from Meichi news! 』
「 Meichi news? Oh, I set up one bomb over there too 」
Sugimori holds his breath.
「 Osaka head office or Tokyo Branch office, I don’t know which one I set it in but, oh wait, I might’ve done on both. If I recall, your newspaper company have people working even at night, right? Oh my, Sugimori’s small sense of justice has caused a major disaster! 」
『 T-That’s unfair! 』
「 Are you an idiot?! I’m an internationally wanted criminal, you know that, right? You’re too late to tell me that 」
「 I mean, hello for everyone who’s watching this broadcast tonight! Yaay! From now on, you’re no longer bystanders! 」
Does that mean?
「 There are 53 more remaining detonation switch. Do you understand what that means? It might be in the company you are working for. It doesn’t need to be the head office building. I don’t know the exact locations to stop the companies I’m targetting. For example, if you are a major manufacturing industry, you usually have distribution factories in Japan. Therefore, even if one of the local factories is hit by an earthquake disaster, you still could continue making products. In that case, how about we blow up all the distribution at the same time? By the way, I’m talking about an overseas name. It’s easier to attack the Japanese company factories deployed abroad 」
The company Kyouko-san’s aiming at is cornered to bankruptcy?
『 You can’t do that! The security level of Japanese companies are…!! 』
Sugimori argues but.
「 What a monkey. Didn’t I just blow up a television station who’s fuzzy about security, right? 」
「 Japan’s security is too naive. You shouldn’t trust them so much. Well, the threats to the companies are over. Next would be the individuals 」
「 For those who were just thinking “serves you right” to the big companies, sorry to disappoint you. My bombs are also placed on various stations, schools, and other public facilities you usually have. It’s possible that you, or your family, loved ones, or friends may die from the bomb. That’s a pitiful destiny, would you accept that? 」
「 Do you get it? The whole of Japan is my hostage! Over 50 powerful bombs now control your life! 」
『 T-That’s a lie! 』
『 There’s no way you can set up such many bombs! 』
「 Well, you have a good point. Well you see, I’m a criminal. What I say doesn’t necessarily mean the truth. I might not even have 53 bombs. I might have only 3 or possibly 108 」
『 W-What are you talking about? 』
「 You’ve already seen me set explosion on two. The chunk of concrete on the studio over there and the sphere studio on the TV station’s head office building. Both of them were blown up remotely. That’s the truth 」
Everyone can confirm.
「 Now then, indeed, there might be no 53 bombs remaining. It’s possible that I’m just bluffing, exaggerating. That’s possible, but, do you not think of the possibility of it being zero? 」
「 And the next explosion will definitely take away someone’s life and wealth! 」
Kyouko-san’s laughter echoes in the studio.
「 To everyone in the police as well, listen, if you move poorly, there will be deaths. If that happens, you are responsible for it. I think you know that already though 」
No one can defy Kyouko-san until the presence or absence of the bombs is confirmed.
『 What’s your objective?! 』
Snatch asks. Kyouko-san.
「 Didn’t I tell it earlier? Show a skit 」
The comedians tremble.
「 I want to laugh! Your job is to make people laugh not have people laugh at you, right? Someone, make me laugh! 」
◇ ◇ ◇
『 Okay, Short comic play! 』
A pair of plump and skinny guy shows their skit.
『 What the hell! 』
『 Thank you very much! 』
The two bow their heads.
「 But still, this is abysmally uninteresting. How can you become a performer with that skill? 」
「 What’s your affiliation? 」
『 C-Compal Arts 』
「 Oh, I see now 」
When talking about Compal arts, that’s quite a big entertainment production company.
There’s a lot of comedians affiliated to them since long ago.
「 You are retiring from the entertainment industry or having the Compal arts disband, which do you think would benefit Japan? 」
『 No, that’s. W-Well 』
『 O-Okay, we’ll leave the entertainment industry, so not the company please 』
The plump entertainer said.
「 Huh? Why do you think so? 」
『 No, but, we can’t cause problems to the company 』
『 Compal has more than 10k entertainers under them 』
「 I know, that’s why I will crush down Compal first 」
「 A company that was just an entertainment production suddenly becomes too big, isn’t it? The current president borrowed powers from the TV station and advertising agencies to kick out the founding family from the inside. As a result, TV stations and agencies are becoming the major shareholders of Compal entertainment 」
「 If that happens, both the TV and agencies are affiliated companies of Compal entertainment. Once they lower the stock price, the assets will be worn down, and Compal’s talents will be appointed. That’s how they make win-win only within their friends. But, there’s no consideration for viewers there 」
『 No, we’re in this industry because we’re entertaining! 』
『 Indeed, it might be as you say but, you don’t even know how hard we worked just to show up on TV! 』
「 Hmm, is there a need to know that? 」
Kyouko-san speaks coldly.
『 Don’t fuck with us! We climbed up desperately among the hundreds of thousands of people in the training center! That’s precisely why the seniors and the people in the station know our names and faces! Do you even know how hard we worked, you bitch!? 』
Snatch lost his temper.
『 We were poor until we became famous, living and busking in the street. We’ve only gone to a theater once in a few months! But you see! We took opportunities even if it may be small and we finally are showing up in the golden time show! And then you came here and made a fool of our company! 』
『 Hey, stop it. Snatch 』
『 There’s still a bomb 』
『 Shut up! Are you okay being made a fool of?! 』
「 Oh, I finally understand why your skits aren’t funny at all. You people are performing arts for the TV station, not the audience 」
『 What the hell did you say!? 』
Snatch shouts. The other performers hold him off.
「 The audience rating on a popular TV program doesn’t get to 20 to 30 percent during the old days. If the program is about 10 percent at most, who appears doesn’t matter so the TV stations can choose anything they like. With that said, you’re just people who swing their tail to the station 」
『 Don’t make a fool of us! Ngugu! 』
The other entertainers close Snatch’s mouth.
「 A few years ago, there was an incident where a big-shot entertainer from Compal entertainment is retiring from the industry due to a scandal. That man has been in the showbiz for a long time that he is hosting several television stations. Having a “Big-shot earn the viewer’s rating,” the entertainment industry was getting arrogant. Some troubles happened until then, but he continued to show in TV 」
『 Are you talking about Tarou-shishou?! 』
『 Snatch, you idiot! Don’t give out names! 』
「 But even when the big-shot suddenly disappeared from the entertainment industry, there were no problems. Most of the moderators working on the program hardly changed, and the audience continues watching it. The entertainer was popular that’s why he’s earning the viewer ratings was only his fantasy. Everything would still work even without that entertainer 」
I don’t watch comedy shows that much so I don’t know.
I mean, I was never interested in TV that much.
Comedians all look the same.
「 In the end, the TV stations, advertising agencies, and showbiz professionals do what they want to make their profit regardless of the audience. 」
「 Your views are forced to the viewers. As a result, you can make a comedian talent for any genre of a TV show. From what I can see, that’s just abnormal 」
The studio fell to silence.
「 A drama actor’s work is to make a comedy. Reporters are even comedians. Even if you’re an announcer on a station, you’re paid more than you could eat, but you’re used as a high-level comedic act. Even sports programs are a comedy. Just the other day, there was a race show, and yet the reporter is somehow laughing. Furthermore, he ignores the content of the race, not caring about the show, just sticking to his story 」
Kyouko-san smiles wryly.
「 Well, there are parts in a talk show where the moderators even laugh. That’s okay, there are people good at acting, even though it’s a comedy. There are people good at reporting at moderating too. But 」
「 Is this what a comedian do? Isn’t a comedy show about making people laugh? 」
『 We have no choice! We have to do various jobs, or we can’t eat 』
Snatch shakes off the hands of the surrounding entertainers and shouts.
「 Eeh? Don’t comedians earn quite a lot? 」
『 That’s only for the popular ones! 』
「 But, you’re living normally, aren’t you? 」
『 Screw off! We’re doing this job because we want to live in a luxury condo, ride on a high-class foreign car! Just like our seniors! 』
「 You’re like that; therefore I want to crush you down 」
Kyouko-san’s voice echoes.
「 In the end, you’re only doing things at your own convenience! Pushing everything to the audience, that’s why they’re not laughing! 」
「 In the Showa era, there was a Manzai teacher who said this when a child was born. “Poor child, his father is an entertainer, so if he’s a boy then he’ll become Yakuza, if she’s a girl then she has no choice but to live on the outskirts” Can you believe that? But it was true. In the era where performers are flourishing, it no longer is, but. During the Showa period, there were a lot of cases of daughters of the entertainers selling their body 」
『 That has nothing to do with the current era, you know? 』
「 I want to correct your misunderstanding. Comedy wasn’t the mainstream of the entertainment world until the middle of the 1970s. Their value compared to an ordinary actor is too little that they need to restrain themselves. It’s a time where comedy itself is a crisis. Even your company, Compal arts, won’t make a profit so they will discontinue their business as their work is in the show business. A time where they talk about business in a bowling alley 」
『 Wait a second! That era was “Crazy Dogs” and “Dora” 』
「 Those two are from the music field, weren’t they? That’s why their management is supposed to be in the music entertainment. Not pure comedians 』
『 Hitoshi-chan? 』
「 That person was a comedian at first, but he immediately played around with amateurs, right? Even the story of him gathering celebrities is basically the same method as playing with rookies. That kind of entertainer would eventually end up alone. He’s a unique case 」
「 Pure comedians came to have great power in television from the end of the 70s and the start of 80s. It’s a Manzai Boom. Everything started from there 」
The entire studio’s listening to Kyouko-san’s story earnestly before everyone noticed.
「 There was only one way to become a TV personality back then. That was to have the affinity with the audience. Making the people watching the program from the living room think that they’re close friends, fellows, that was the secret to winning popularity 」
「 Then, it changed since the half of the 90s. The comedians’ consciousness 」
『 What do you mean? 』
Snatch asks Kyouko-san.
「 “We’re different from the ordinary people, our sense of comedy is far above the ordinary people” such ideas come up, so the comedians have become strange 」
『 No, but that’s true. We’re definitely funnier than ordinary people. We believe so we can make great comedy, you know? 』
「 Do you believe that your sense of humor is far above the ordinary people? 」
『 Obviously 』
「 Those watching the TV are the ordinary people. Then, do you think that your sense of humor was too high that the ordinary people can’t understand you anymore? 」
『 Yeah. I do, sometimes 』
「 Hmm, so you don’t think that you were boring 」
『 Because, at that times, when we’re closing, I talk to my partner, my manager, my fellow comedians, and they all understand it. “That was a bit high-ball for the guests today” 」
「 Don’t you think that your sense of humor is strange? 」
『 No, even the guests and some of my fans say that I’m funny 』
「 You’re living in such a small world of only your friends. That’s not just in the comedy industry. This is a problem of the 21st century Japan 」
「 “We understand. Those people are just inferior to us, so they don’t. Because, our stories go through to our friends, that’s why we’re the right, the superior, the wonderful, people other than ourselves are just idiots” That ideology 」
The studio fell silent.
「 What you’re doing is eventually established only among your acquaintances who understand each other. Therefore, the market doesn’t expand. And yet, you’re trying to push for profits and make money? If something unexpected happens, like a collaboration between two television stations, advertising agencies, and entertainment productions, you’re angry. Your name’s Snatch, right? 」
『 Huh? Yeah 』
Snatch is surprised, yet he replied.
「 You see, do you not have an aunt who’s really dill-witted? Where she’s watching a detective drama, and the criminal’s already exposed yet she’s the only one asking “Who’s this guy?” 」
『 I-I do 』
「 Try to make that aunt laugh with kind feelings by making her grasp the contents of the story. If you do, that’s when you’re a real artist 」
『 Kind feelings? 』
「 If you only do things only those who can understand will understand then you’re not an entertainer. 」
『 I don’t get what you mean 』
「 Of course, you won’t understand. But, don’t forget that I told you this 』
『 T-Thank you!! 』
Ogu, Snatch’s partner kneels on the floor.
『 Uhm, that’s what I always wanted to tell Snatch all the time. I’m an idiot so I don’t know what I should say, I can’t make it into words, so I wasn’t able to say it for so long, but 』