By Makoto Hoshino/ Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterThe comic duo MAPLE SUPER ALLOY (Maple Chogokin) has a powerful visual impact that’s hard to forget. KAZLASER, 32, is muscular, dressed head to toe in red, and sports dyed blond hair, while Natsu Ando, 36, is clad entirely in purple and weighs 130 kilograms. Even so, the male-female combo recently began a regular radio program to take advantage of their comic speaking skills rather than their looks.
Formed in 2012, MAPLE SUPER ALLOY has achieved a popularity on par with TRENDY ANGEL, the duo that won the 2015 M-1 Grand Prix, the championship of manzai standup comedy.
Even so, Kaz — KAZLASER’s more common moniker — and Natsu are cool-headed about their success, saying they sometimes fail to make their audience laugh. The pair added that though they’ve begun to receive more offers for performances, nothing has changed.
Kaz said he had been “performing solo as just another boring comedian for five or six years” before asking Natsu to perform with him on the advice of his manager. Natsu had recently split from another comic duo. “I declined his offer at first but he never gave up, so I gave in to his persistence,” she recalled. The two formed MAPLE SUPER ALLOY.
The duo’s manzai performances often start with Kaz shouting “Sieg Zeon!” a war cry from the popular anime series “Kidosenshi Gundam” (Mobile Suit Gundam). Although Natsu attempts to discuss various topics with Kaz, he continuously responds with foolish remarks regardless of what she says.
As their dialogue develops, Kaz begins to insist, “I’ve got a good response,” but Natsu shows reluctance to humor him, making such retorts as “I’m fed up with this.” Their dialogue finishes soon afterward, leaving the audience puzzled but always thoroughly impressed.
Kaz usually develops the manzai plots for the duo. “Everything [in our manzai] is meaningless because it’s just for laughs,” he explained. “I deeply admire those who master traditional manzai comedy, but it’s a thorny path to reach that point and difficult to feel valued [by the audience].”
He added: “I’m reluctant to go through it after all these years because it’s hard to become popular performing traditional [manzai]. So we discovered a different path.”
The parts of their routine involving self-condemnation and humility actually reveal an ability to logically analyze the world around them. The skill appears to be why they’re unafraid to work with comedians with longer careers, and why they’ve met with success whenever they appear on TV variety shows.
Begun in October, the regular radio program, called “Shinhakken! Yuraku- chogokin,” features the duo’s name in its title. It is broadcast on Saturdays at 6 p.m. by Nippon Broadcasting System.
Themed on introducing new things, movements and places to go, the two comedians interview guests from various fields and play quiz games with radio listeners.
Natsu thinks they’ve come this far due to their visual impact, and is surprised they’ve landed a gig on the radio. Kaz added: “We’re trying what we’re not so good at. So we’re determined not to worry about what people say.”
Surprisingly, they seem to be more relaxed during the two-hour live program at the radio station than when they appear on TV programs.
Asked about their next goals, Kaz said he “was thinking of getting into asset management.” He said he wants to “earn ¥200 million as soon as he can and spend the rest of his life at ease.” Natsu, on the other hand, said: “I’m going to build my inner muscles because my bones will get fragile as I age.”