Gamarjobat: An Interview with Masters of Mime Ketch! and HIRO-PON

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Japanese comedy duo Ketch! and HIRO-PON will catch your attention from a distance. Clad in their signature suits and sunglasses, and boasting a red and yellow mohawk respectively, the two of them form Gamarjobat, a word that translates to ‘Hello’ in Georgian.

First achieving fame at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Gamarjobat specialises in silent comedy and mime, with outrageous acts that transcend age, culture and language, subverting standard mime tropes and putting their own unique spin on them. The two friends have since gone on to make appearances on shows such as Blue Peter, and even starred in a proposed TV pilot for the BBC titled Ketch & HIRO-PON Get It On. 

Gamarjobat will charm you with their humour and sheer energy, creating unconventional setups and introducing audiences to mischievous robots, invisible stairs and even hide and seek on stage. We posed some questions to both Ketch! and HIRO-PON before they arrive in Singapore next week as part of their Asian tour, and found out a little more about their origins, mime and signature style. Read the interview in full below:

Gamarjobat 1

Bakchormeeboy: You both first met at the Asia Mime Festival way back in 1995, and have mentioned that influences include Charlie Chaplin. Why and how did you two become such fast friends, and eventually decide to work together to create Gamarjobat?  

Gamarjobat: Since we met in the festival, we performed a couple of shows together with 5 other young mime performers but we thought we could try to make shows with just 2 of us. Then we started Gamarjobat in 1999.

Gamarjobat 2

Bakchormeeboy: How and why did you two come up with your signature mohawk and suits image?

Gamarjobat: We both love British fashions, so we wear the British mods suit and Dr.Martens. Also HIRO-PON loves punk music, so he had a mohawk at first while Ketch! had dreadlocks. It was a kind of joke for Ketch! to get a mohawk at first, but after he had it done, people remembered us easily and talked about us. Also it made it really easy to get people’s attention when we did street shows. Now mohawk is our signature.

Gamarjobat 3

Bakchormeeboy: You first came to attention performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Why do you think you’ve since found so much success in Europe?

Gamarjobat: Because our show is unique and also people there know the value of mime which transcends language barriers.

Gamarjobat 5

Bakchormeeboy: What is the mime scene like in Japan, and do you have enough support or fanbase back home?

Gamarjobat: Unfortunately there are not so many people who know about mime in Japan. But to be fair, it is also because we have no language barriers there.

Gamarjobat 6

Bakchormeeboy: You both frequently used to appear on television on various shows, from Blue Peter to the BBC Special Ketch & HIRO-PON Get it On. Would you ever consider doing more television specials/series, or continue sticking to the live action format?

Gamarjobat: Yes, we’d love to work on TV more, while continuously doing live shows in front of people. These are 2 different things.

Gamarjobat 4

Bakchormeeboy: Mime is an art form that transcends language, and it’s impressive that Gamarjobat has even gone on to create silent plays, beyond stand up comedy alone. How do you ensure that your acts feel consistently fresh, and what drives you to keep doing mime every day of your lives?

Gamarjobat: If we can enjoy ourselves the every moment on the stage, audience feel it and show become fresh. Smiles in auditorium!!

Gamarjobat plays at the Drama Centre Theatre on 24th March. Tickets available from SISTIC

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