The Hawaii Comedy Blog

The official blog of the gang at Hawaii Comedy Theater

Archive for April, 2010

Hilo Hattie – One of Hawaii’s best female entertainers

Hilo HattieWhen it comes to Hawaiian comedy, one of the first names that come to mind is Hilo Hattie. While many people are only familiar with name Hilo Hattie because of the numerous souvenir shops located throughout the islands (Very good places to go for all of your Hawaiian needs in my opinion!) the namesake for these stores is even more impressive than the large selection of Hawaiian shirts.  Clarissa “Clara” Haili better known by her stage name Hilo Hattie was born on October 28, 1901 and died on December 12, 1979. During her decades long career as a musician and comedian Hilo Hattie embodied the Aloha Spirit in her approach to her craft. Although Hilo Hattie started out as a school teacher who would use funny Hawaiian style songs and hula to entertain her students, she soon realized that she could make a living off of being an entertainer. In 1936 she joined the Royal Hawaiian Girls Glee Club. However, it wasn’t until she performed “When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop” (Written by Don McDiarmid) that she began to gain notoriety as a singer in her own right.

While writing this entry I decided to listen to the actual song. My first impression is that it is a very pleasant tune and Hilo Hattie really did have a very nice voice. Some might say that such a song might be too old fashioned for the present, but some songs really can survive the test of time. One could picture Hilo Hattie singing this song to a crowded room with an audience eager to hear such a wonderful voice singing this entertaining and comical tune.

After she was recorded singing this song she began to use the name Hilo Hattie officially as a stage name and soon became one of the most well known faces associated with Hawaii through her humor and wit in front of audiences. It was once said that Hilo Hattie was one of those people who was able to entertain the masses and make them feel so comfortable that they would come back to Hawaii over and over to experience what they had felt for the first time. I believe that Hilo Hattie embodied that Hawaii Spirit that so many people feel whenever they come to the islands.

During World War II Hilo Hattie performed constantly in support of the war effort by traveling all over the country to do benefit concerts for our men in uniform at the time. Her career continued for decades after. In 1971 she agreed to have her name connected with what are now the Hilo Hattie stores.  Although Hilo Hattie died in 1978 its very clear that her impact on Hawaii is still strong even if the younger generation doesn’t really know who she is. There is more to her name then just cheap Hawaiian shirts and knick-knacks. When someone learns who Hilo Hattie really was, they begin to realize what someone who lives and breathes Aloha Spirit is like.

Photo courtesy of http://www.squareone.org/Hapa/clara.html

Things to do in Waikiki by day

If you’re going to visit Hawaii, it’s no secret that you’re thinking about what to do during your visit. And while checking out what to do outside of Waikiki is perfectly fine, there’s also a lot of things you can do while staying in Waikiki.

For starters, you can hang out at world-famous Waikiki Beach and enjoy the sun and sand Hawaii is known for. Get in your bathing suit or swimming trunks, put on some sun block and work on that tan or take a dip in the water!

Taking a dip or working on your tan aren’t the only things you can do while at the beach. You can also take surfing lessons or rent a boogie board for an exciting time with the waves.

You can also take a ride on a catamaran and enjoy seeing the Waikiki and Honolulu coastline.

If you’re looking for a bit of physical activity, a hike to the top of Diamond Head is a popular thing to do for both locals and tourists alike. A few tour companies offer hiking tours to Diamond Head, but you can go on your own by taking the bus or driving there if you have a rental car.

And of course, the world-class shopping venues around Waikiki and Ala Moana are also hard to ignore. You can basically shop ’til you drop and enjoy high-end shopping at places like 2100 Kalakaua, or find bargains at places like the International Marketplace.

If you get hungry after your shopping spree, Waikiki also has that covered. From hot dogs to high end restaurants, you’ll find nearly every cuisine within walking distance. We’ll give you some top suggestions on restaurants in our next post. Stay tuned!

Elvis’ Blue Hawaii

In the spirit of the first post, here’s something from Elvis’ Blue Hawaii film. Enjoy!

Elvis and Hawaiian Comedy

He wasn’t just the King of Rock and Roll.

Elvis Presley was also well known for his multiple comedic films that took place in Hawaii. These various feature films helped create the public image of Hawaii as a surfer’s paradise where everything was pleasant and entertaining and made the Aloha Spirit accessible to the public at large. Following is a brief synopsis of the three feature films. While they may be light-hearted they are prime examples of how Hawaii was viewed in the 1960s by the youth population.

The most first and most famous of these films is “Blue Hawaii” directed by Norman Taurog. In this 1961 film Elvis stars as Chadwick Gates, a young man fresh out of the Army. Chad is trying to enjoy his newfound freedom by hanging out with his friends, seeing his girlfriend Mailie Duval (Joan Blackman) and surfing all day. All is well for Chad until his parents Sarah Lee (Angela Lansbury) and Fred (Roland Winters) tell him that it’s time for him to take over the family business, the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company. Defying his parents Chad decides to work for Mailie as a tour guide.

The film took place mainly at the Coco Palm Resort on Kauai which was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Currently it isn’t rebuilt yet but there are plans to do in the near future. The other major location in the film was Waikiki’s Hilton Hawaiian Village. Famous songs from this movie include “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Hawaiian Wedding” song. To this date it remains the most famous of the three Hawaii films but there were two more that followed.

In 1962 Elvis shot “Girls! Girls! Girls!”, also directed by Taurog, where he played a fisherman named Ross Carpenter who’s only true desire in life is to own his own boat. His girlfriend Robin Gantner (Stella Stevens) has to help him fulfill his dreams, which thankfully do come true by the end of the film. The film is most notable for being nominated for Best Motion Picture-Musical at the 1963 Golden Globes, which it lost to “The Music Man.”

The final film in Elvis’ Hawaii movies was the 1966 film “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” co-directed by Michael D. Moore and James A. Rosenberger. Elvis plays Rick Richards who is pilot that was just fired from his airline and was forced to return to Hawaii so that he could find new work. Once he is home his friend Danny Kohana (James Shigeta) suggests that the two start a helicopter touring company. Despite Rick’s best efforts his negligent flying skills force him to become grounded and placed under review. The moment of truth comes when Danny becomes lost during a tour and Rick must decide if he will follow the law and risk losing his friend or take the skies to find his friend at the risk of losing his pilot’s license permanently.

Elvis may be gone, but his impact on Hawaiian comedy remains to this day.