Saku Yanagawa Interview
Fuji Rock Stand Up
Fuji Rock’s first stand-up comedian, Saku Yanagawa, has been doing the rounds this weekend. You may have caught him opening up for acts on the Green Stage as well as performing his stand up routine at different locations around the festival site.
We grabbed a quick interview with him on Sunday in between his 8 shows of the day.
Can you briefly tell the Fujirockers about yourself?
My name is Saku Yanagawa and I’m a stand up comedian based in Chicago. I’m a stand-up comedian for Fuji Rock Festival and I’m doing 22 shows over the weekend.
How did you get involved with Fuji Rock?
I was performing at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and the Fuji Rock organizer, Masa saw my show. He really liked it, so he put me on at the Asagiri Jam festival in 2018 and that went down well, so he asked me to play Fuji Rock this year.
You’re doing 22 shows this weekend. How do you prepare for doing that many shows in such a short space of time?
It’s simple – I just don’t sleep!
Are you doing new material here?
Yeah. I was opening for the Red Hot Chili Pipers so I told a story from Scotland and I just opened for Interactivo – a Cuban band -, so I talked about baseball, as there’s a connection there.
You opened for Hanggai at the Green Stage this morning too…
Yeah, it’s a big space and it was just after that heavy rain so I talked about how great Fujirockers are.
What’s been your best experience so far this weekend?
Probably just talking to people who came up to me after the show and said they’d like to see more stand-up next year.
So, do you think there’s potential for more stand-up comedy in the future at Fuji Rock?
As people come to understand more about that kind of comedy, there’s definitely more potential.
How do you think tour stand-up translates between English-speaking and Japanese-speaking audiences? For example, British audiences can have a very dark sense of humour…
It’s very different, actually. Humour is very localized. In Japan, I have to build and develop a local stand-up scene in the Japanese language. Here people may not know how to react to that kind of humour, especially in public. Also, I talk about politics a lot, on purpose. Comedy is a good tool to discuss politics and help people think about it more.
What’s caught your eye while moving about the festival site this weekend?
No one cares about rain at all – they just wear a rain jacket and a towel. Interestingly, I’ve seen so many rock band towels, but I’ve also seen a lot of Hanshin Tigers towels too. I’m a huge fan of the Tigers, so I’m happy about that connection between music and baseball.
Which artists have you enjoyed so far this weekend?
The Lumineers and the Route 17 Rock ‘n Roll Orchestra. The drummer, Ikehata-san, is the person who introduced me to Masa, actually. I think he’s the best rock ‘n roll drummer in the world!
When’s your next gig so people can come check you out?
You can see me playing Billboard in Hibuya, Tokyo on August 16th.
Thanks to Saku for taking time out of his very busy schedule to talk to us! You can catch him later this evening at Tokoro Tengoku at 21:05, Café Don at 24:00 and 01:45 at Naeba Shokudo.