The Hawaii Comedy Blog

The official blog of the gang at Hawaii Comedy Theater

Archive for June, 2010

Bo Irvine

Bo Irvine

Bo Irvine during one of his performances at Comedy Polynesia

Some of us live our lives without ever succeeding in our life-long dreams. Others discover that path to greatness that grants them the ability to do what they love. For Native-Hawaiian comedian Bo Irvine it has been a long and interesting journey for him to finally reach his current state in life.

Irvine has been entertaining audiences in Hawaii for over 20 years and during those years he has grown quite an impressive resume where he has entertained alongside some of the greatest comedians alive. He has performed alongside George Wallace, Jeff Foxworthy, George Lopez, Howie Mandel and George Carlin. He has also appeared on NBC Nite Live, A&E Showtime, Bravo, and was the winner of Last Comic Standing: Season Six Hawaii Showcase.

Irvine is best known for his positive approach to his Type Two Diabetes, which he copes with through his comedy routines. Click here to see Irvine explain his way of approaching the issue in front of his audiences. His routine “Seriously, Living with Diabetes Can Be Funny” has been delighting audiences for years now and is considered one of the better routines in Honolulu these days. Before becoming a comedian Irvine spent 22 years as a firefighter in Honolulu and was very athletic. Unfortunately his career choice to become a comedian also led him to lead a lifestyle of eating very unhealthy which led to the onset of his diabetes.

Despite having diabetes Irvine has a very positive outlook on the situation. He believes that the best way to educate people to lead healthy lifestyles so that they don’t have the same sort of thing happen to them is to persuade them through the use of humor. For Irvine the message is clear: be active, exercise and above all else, watch your diet so that you don’t make the same errors that he did in carelessness. To quote him from an article by Dan Naskaso of the Honolulu Advertiser:

When you’re a diabetic, you can always hear the refrigerator calling you late at night: ‘Bo, come and eat. Bo, come and eat.’ I have to go make sure nobody’s in there but end up eating a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. My dog will look at me and say, ‘I’m going to tell.’ So I always give him a PB&J. Now he’s a diabetic, too.

It is with this sort of wit about the issue that Irvine approaches the issue and makes it easily digestible by a public that otherwise might not want to take about such a sensitive issue. I really feel that someone like Irvine is very important in our society. He could have sat down and cried over his issue, but instead he realized that he needed to approach it positively and make a difference. It is those kinds of people that really do make this world a better place.  I suppose that I would best describe this sort of humor as uplifting humor, and in this day and age it is something that we all need.

Kent Bowman (Pidgin comedy)

Kent Bowman

Kent Bowman, from the cover of his album "No Talk Stink!"

To the kane he asked “You got beef?”

Hawaiian pidgin is one the harder aspects of Hawaiian society for those from the mainland. Quite often it is the use of pidgin that separates the local from the visitor.  Pidgin can be used by different people for various reasons. For many locals, it’s a way to talk to each other without tourists being able to understand what is being said as a way to build community and a distinctive culture, separate from the idealized version of Hawaiian seen in the movie theaters. For Kent Bowman, it was all about humor and poking fun at local culture.

Bowman also known by his occasional stage name K.K. Ka’umanua was born Sept 2, 1923 and was the youngest of 11 children. Bowman served in the United States Army during World War II and when he returned began his celebrated comedy career. In 1961, Bowman recorded a record showcasing his unique storytelling abilities with children’s fairy tale stories. What made these recordings unique is that they were done in Pidgin, something that was almost completely unheard of at the time and likely something that the educational system didn’t appreciate, given their desire to stamp out pidgin during the 1960s.

He was a fantastic storyteller who had the wisdom to juxtapose familiar literary figures into the local scene.” Some of his stories included : Goldie the Blonde Malihini and the Three Wild Pua’a” (“Goldilocks and the Three Bears”), “Rumple Dakineskin” (“Rumpelstiltskin”), “Little Lei Puahi” (“Little Red Riding Hood”), “Hau Kea and the Seven Menehunes” (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”) and “Keaka and the Beanstalk” (“Jack and the Bean-stalk”) and were driven and perfected by his fantastic storytelling skills and obvious attention to detail and to performing these works in the local accent.

I’ve only found one recording of Bowman on YouTube and I must say that it’s hilarious, especially when one starts listening hard enough to understand what is being said. Click here to listen to this wonderful example of Bowman’s prowess with pidgin humor.

Bowman influenced people’s opinions on pidgin humor greatly. What was once something talked about out of the ear shot of the public soon became something that was accessible for anyone who wanted a taste of local culture that was easily accessible and understandable.

I know that some people believe that the use of pidgin is outdated, but I believe that locals have every right to use this form of language. In a state that is so diverse it can be hard to find those things which unite people together as one, and language, in this case the use of pidgin is one of those aspects of society that unite rather than divide.

Bowman died Dec. 20 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada after a successful lifelong career. Although he is gone now, his impact remains to this day. Just listen carefully in the streets and you may hear some of his funny and entertaining routines being repeated for generations to come.

No Crying on Stage

Kathy Buckley

Kathy Buckley

“What’s that sound?” Kathy asked. It’s a question I’ll never forget.

Charlotte and I first met comedienne Kathy Buckley while on a trip to Los Angeles scouting for new talent for our comedy club in Hawaii. We were all back stage at the Ice House Comedy & Magic Club in Pasadena. Our 3-month old daughter was with us.

If you didn’t read a certain previous blog post, not only is Kathy Buckley one of the nation’s top female comics, she is also hearing-impaired. It so happens, 6 months before this meeting she had been outfitted for a hearing aid that would allow her to hear sounds for the first time in her life. Birds singing, highway traffic, etc. All firsts. When we met her at the comedy club that night she was still in discovery mode.

“What’s that sound?” Kathy asked us. Apparently she heard something new and unfamiliar.

Charlotte figured out what sound she was referring to. “Oh, that was our baby!” Charlotte replied. “I’m tickling her. She was laughing.”

Kathy gazed with wonder like I’ve never seen at this 3 month old infant, then looked at Charlotte and asked, “Can you make her do that again?”

So Charlotte again induced deep belly laughs from the kid, and, oh my goodness, the dam in Kathy’s eyes broke. Tears started gushing. It was the first time she had ever heard an infant laugh and it was, I presume, a moment of overwhelming joy. I’m a guy, I don’t traffic in these areas, so all I can do is presume.

An area I do traffic in, however, is comedians being introduced to go on stage to make an audience laugh. And it just so happened that at this particular moment I heard Kathy Buckley being introduced to go on stage. To go on stage assigned with the task of making audience laugh. While in tears. This oughta be interesting.

“Um, uh, Kathy? I don’t mean to spoil this precious moment, but you’re being introduced right now.”

There must be a rule in the comedy club playbook. No crying on stage. In a flash, she shouted, “Oh crap,” quickly tried to wipe the tears from her eyes, and ran through the door to the stage.

And there she was.

I don’t specifically recall how Kathy managed to explain to the Ice House audience why she was crying as she took the stage, but she managed and as usual, she killed.

Kathy and I recounted this moment when we spoke last week. “I’m feeling old,” she said after I let her know that this infant daughter of mine is about to graduate from college.

A gifted comedienne, award-winning actress, accomplished author, and renowned inspirational speaker Kathy Buckley is a force like no other. Billed as “America’s First Hearing Impaired Comedienne,” Kathy Buckley is a five-time American Comedy Award Nominee as Best Stand-Up Female Comedienne, and the winner of countless other awards for her work. Her television appearances include The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Inside Edition, CNN, HBO, VH1’s Stand-Up Spotlight, Comic Strip Live, Evening at the Improv, and Caroline’s Comedy Hour.

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