The Benza, interview with Award Winning cast for The Best Comedy MedFF 2018
The MedFF has always had a great sense of talent. During the last summer edition he has chosen the work of director Raito Nishizaka as The Best Comedy: The Benza. The plot is linear but spontaneous: Chris and Kyle are two American men sharing an apartment in Tokyo. They lived in peace and happiness until their toilet seat broke. What happened to their toilet seat? How does one say 'toilet seat' in Japanese? Where do you buy a toilet seat in Japan? Join Chris and Kyle on their journey in this hyper realistic comedic adventure, "The Benza".
Besides being able to tear up some smiles our heroes managed to recreate a minishow that could have endless developments. But now just write, it's time to get to know them more closely.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Danny Caprio went to interview the cast of The Benza:
Christopher McCombs, Kyle Card, Haku Inko, Masahito Kawahata, Michiko Noguchi &
The Great Director Raito Nishizaka
1) Where does your project come from?
Christopher McCombs: Our team Tokyo Cowboys began four years ago. There are many opportunities for entertainment work in Tokyo, but it’s all rather similar. Especially for foreign actors and actresses. We decided to create a team that focuses on diversity and create new stories and characters for Japanese and foreign talent alike! Anyone with a passion for entertainment is welcome to join us!
Raito Nishizaka: With “The Benza” we really wanted to make a comedy that could overcome country and have a broad appeal. We really wanted to create something that would make many, many people laugh all around the world!
2) What do you think is missing from Japanese comedy cinema?
Michiko Noguchi: I think Japanese comedy often only appeals to Japanese people and concerns itself only with what would be funny in Japan. It’s not enough. We need to reach out to other countries and cultures and include them as well.
Masahito Kawahata: I've been studying bilingual improv for about 7 years and learning how to entertain an audience regardless of the language. I still have a lot to learn, but it has helped me a lot. If they wish to keep making movies that are meant only for the Japanese people, I have nothing to say.
Kyle Card: From my western background I think Japanese comedy can feel a little too contrived and slapstick. That makes it hard to relate to in some cases and difficult to really appreciate it. I guess I wish it had more relatable situations so that I could enjoy it more. Some traditional comedic forms such as Rakugo possess these elements and can be quite enjoyable!
3) “The Benza” has the potential to be a viral hit! How long did it take to prepare?
Chris: Though it may not seem like it, a lot of planning went into it. I first talked to the director Raito in Christmas of 2016 about making “The Benza.” At the start of 2018 it finally felt like the timing was right to move into pre-production.
Haku Inko: Since “The Benza” is a comedy, I really wanted to be in the moment and use the energy on the set. I didn’t do a lot of prep work. We shot the classroom scene in about five hours. There were so many talented actors and actresses playing students that it was a breeze getting into character!
4) Does your poster remind me of Indiana Jones? Is there some similarity and was this intentional?
Kyle: It is indeed inspired by Indiana Jones! The story of “The Benza,” while essentially operating in the parody realm, is an adventure story at its core. Two young men going off into the unknown to find a coveted treasure and bring it back home? A hero’s journey indeed!
Raito: When I was designing the poster, I wanted it to feel like two guys in a strange land on a grand quest for a toilet seat. I certainly hope it comes off like Indiana Jones!
5) Did you expect to win the “Best Comedy” award at MedFF?
Masahito: Nope! I was just hoping to get everyone to laugh and enjoy our film!
Michiko: I really believe in “The Benza.” We had so much fun making it! I had a feeling that people will understand that when they watch it.
Chris: We can’t thank you enough for the honor. It’s very flattering!
6) What projects do you have coming up?
Haku: We are very excited because we are going to make “The Benza” into a series! The end of the short film had a parody trailer but so many people were really interested in the world that we decided to continue. In Japanese we say, “Born from a lie.” In this case, “born from a parody trailer!”
Chris: We are currently in preproduction now and should begin shooting again late October!
7) Have you ever thought about creating a show with Italy, Japan and the United States? A live event like this is missing on YouTube!
Michiko: I think it’s a great idea and certainly not impossible to do! I love the idea of all kinds of different people from around the world pitching ideas at each other. If everyone brings aspects of their own country to the project, it would certainly become a brilliant comedy!
Raito: I could really see our Japanese and North American cast heading to Italy and searching for a benza! It would make a great movie.
8) Let’s change the topic to politics. Would you mind giving us your opinion about Trump?
Raito: Dark, ominous news is increasing day by day and it really does seem like the world is in a state of uncertainty. We must find ways to laugh at times like these. Let’s brighten up the darkness!
Chris: There are people in America who support President Trump and there are people who cannot stand him. Whatever you feel about Trump, he is just one example of the many divisive issues all around the world. That’s a big part of why we wanted to make a comedy. Laughter is unifying. Laughter is together. Laughter is healing. It is very important, especially now that we have a moment to put differences aside and just be together.
9) Which of you is the most scrupulous?
Chris: Scrupulous? Hmm…probably me. I have endless notes in notebooks and a task list a mile long. I have a 3-year plan and I am sticking to it!
Haku: For sure it’s Chris! He writes our scripts, produces, and acts! He really pays attention to even the smallest details. He catches everything!
10) At what age do you grow up to stop making people laugh?
Kyle: There is no such age. Laughter is an essential part of health and life. Laugh more, live longer. In this way we hope we can help keep our audiences and ourselves alive for a very long time!
Masahito: I will probably never stop!
Thanks Champions!!! We hope to realize a cross project with us for Italy, Japan and Usa :)