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Hi, I’m Sarah. Welcome to The Daily English Show.
The other day I got an email from a guy who has videos on YouTube. His user name is tokyocooney. I’ve talked about him before but I’d never met him before – just seen his videos and he had sent me a few emails with suggestions for the show.
Anyway he said: I’m coming to Hokkaido – I don’t know exactly where yet – but I’ve got a gig there – he does stand up comedy.
So I wrote back and I said cool ... I hope it’s near here ... it would be awesome to meet you. You have to come and stay.
And it turned out it was pretty close to Kutchan, so he came and stayed for a night.
And it was great, he’s such a cool guy and we had an excellent time.
We went out to Kareoke ... and mmm I realized it’s a bad idea to go to kareoke with someone who has a video camera and a YouTube account.
Anyway, he agreed to be a guest on The Daily English Show, which was great.
I asked him some questions and he told me that he came to Japan in July 2001. And originally he was planning to just stay here for a year, but he’s still here now almost 6 years later.
And in Japan he has worked as an English teacher, a writer and a stand up comedian.
How did you learn Japanese?
Ahh, first I started off at like a kind of big group, ahh, government run, ahh class at the kuyakusho (ward office).
And then I decided I liked it. That was just a taste ... basic kind of meet ... greetings and vocabulary. And after that I decided to, ah, get more serious and I got a private teacher, ah, at a Japanese language school and had two lessons a week, one hour each, um, man-to-man.
And it was actually kind of tough because I would spend all day teaching English and then afterwards have to go and take an hour long Japanese class.
But, um, it was necessary. I think people try to study on their own. And I think especially in the beginning, it’s very necessary to have at least twice a week, a good hour with a professional teacher, to get you on the right course. And then after about two, three years when I had more confidence, I cut down to once a week.
And then after that, now I, I don’t go to classes at all. But I do, do some studying on my own.
Kia ora, in Stick News today a 52-year-old man finished swimming down the Amazon river today. It took him 66 days.
This guy loves swimming down rivers. The last long swim he had was in China.
This time he swam 5268km down the Amazon River.
During the swim, he suffered from nausea, diarrhea, dangerously high blood pressure, sunstroke, dizziness and delirium.
Today he finished the swim, and went to hospital.
And that was Stick News for Monday the 9th of April.
conversations with sarah
#210 Is writing your biggest passion?
Step 1: Repeat Sarah’s lines.
Step 2: Read Sarah’s lines and talk to Kevin.
Sarah Is writing your biggest passion?
Kevin Yes. Yes. Um. Of course, I do a lot of teaching. But, um, since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to write. And, um, I had expected that my trip to Japan would be just something to look back on later as a writer and use it as material.
And now it is that, I’m using my experience in Japan as material but for ah, writing in Japan. So, I just never got back to ah, the States. One small thing I forgot to do.
Sarah What kind of writing do you most want to do?
Kevin Um. TV writing. Ah, it’s basically never changed in my life. I’ve always wanted to do TV writing.
Ah, I got first ah, hooked on Monty Python when I was ah, like middle school or younger.
And, ah, I think that was when I first thought “wow, people can do that for a living?!”
And when I was a middle school student I tried, you know, writing ske, sketches. And I had my first camera maybe when I was in middle school I got it for a Christmas present from my parents. And me and my friends would tape sketches and ...
And ah, from that I basically realized that that was what I wanted to do.
Sarah And you also do stand up, don’t you?
Kevin Yeah, I do stand up. Um, I do stand up, but I don’t particularly like doing stand up. It’s kind of a necessary evil for all writers. Um, because one of the major ways of getting work is having producers or people like, who do the work come and see your stand up. And then say: “wow, that guy’s funny”. And then you’re brought in to pitch an idea, or to um, sell a story. Only after usually they see that. But sometimes they will read um, just your proposal, ah ... But, but actually stand up is one of the major ways to get work.
Sarah Do you do it in Japanese or English?
Kevin I do it in both Japanese and English. But I do it for money in English. I do it for (in) Japanese for a hobby.
The next step I have to take to take in my own study of language
(which) is to start performing regularly in Japanese. Um, but it’s very, very scary. I’ve done it a couple of times. And on my YouTube video, there’s one video where I do stand up. I did for this thing called the R1 competition. And the video I have up there is the first time I ever performed stand up in front of people in Japanese. And it was a frightening, frightening, experience. Ah, yeah, if you think “jikoshokai” is scary. Try doing three minutes of comedy in front of an auditorium of Japanese people and having that first, like, 30 seconds of ….. staring back at you.
But, but I have to start getting over the fear of it. Ah, and just doing it. Cause feel comfortable doing English comedy, I don’t get nervous anymore. But when I do it in Japanese, I feel like I’m starting all over again, which is the frightening part.
Sarah What has happened to you since you put videos on YouTube?
Kevin Um, I’ve lost many, many, many hours of my life ah, to editing, downloading, responding to emails. But to be honest, I don’t think I lost them. It’s kind of like um, any other hobby, model airplanes or, um sniffing glue.
It doesn’t necessarily make you smarter but it’s, it’s very enjoyable. And I’ve actually met lots of interesting people. For example Sarah from The Daily English Show. Ah, through making the videos. And it’s also just been I don’t know, a great way to ah, relax. Like, ah, editing is ah, very, very fun. It brings me to like a zen-like state of ah, peace and calm cause I’m just going chung chung chung chung chung editing things.
Sarah Have you been recognized?
Kevin Yeah, a couple of times like, ah in Tokyo – so far only foreigners – ah, have said “oooiiii you’re that guy from YouTube”. Ah, and that’s been about the extent of it.
But one cool thing though is one of my friends back in the States ... ah, one of his friends sent him a link to one of my videos without knowing that it was his friend who had made the video. And I was like wow that’s a weird small world six degrees of separation kind of thing.
Sarah What advice do you have for people studying English?
Kevin Um, don’t take it so seriously. But, um, that doesn’t mean don’t commit time to it. You have to like commit and know that if you really want to learn you have to spend time, money, energy, willpower to do it.
But it has to retain what the whole point is which is just trying to communicate with someone.
I think people approach it like a science sometimes. That like um, takes, kills the fun, kills the whole point which is trying to say something to other people or understand what other people are trying to say to you.
And like another key point is have something to say, you know, have a point to why you’re trying to communicate.
Otherwise ah, it’ll be very difficult to learn how to communicate.
But I’ve always noticed like when I have something I want to say, somehow I’ll be able to communicate that point to the person I’m talking to.
But if I don’t really like the person or want to talk to them ... I can’t really communicate with them cause I have nothing I want to to say.
So keeping that communication aspect of it. And the fun of it really, really, really will help you learn it faster because you’ll, you’ll want to learn it, you’ll want to use it, you know.
Kevin Cooney at Tokyo Comedy Store
The Negi by Kevin Cooney
Atsui - an article by Kevin Cooney
The TV show Kevin writes for (Japanese only)
track: Bossa For My Brother
from: Napoli, Italy
album at Jamendo
artist at Jamendo