The Hawaii Comedy Blog

The official blog of the gang at Hawaii Comedy Theater

Archive for July, 2011

The Day I Didn’t Meet Bob Newhart

As we were walking out of the Kula Lodge restaurant in Maui’s Upcountry yesterday, I noticed a family standing by the fireplace waiting to be seated. A grandpa, a teenage grandson, and a few people in between.

Bob Newhart

As I passed, I saw Grandpa smile at his family. I stopped, slightly stunned. I know that smile. I shook my head and kept on walking.

As we got to the lobby, Charlotte, who was a few paces behind me like the good Muslim woman she is not, whispered excitedly to me, “Hey, that looked like that comedian… actor… I can’t remember his name.”

So she saw it, too! It’s gotta be. “You mean Darrell and his other brother Darrell?” I said.

“Yes, exactly!”

“Yup, that’s Bob Newhart,” I answered.

What a day! It had started with a horseback ride at Triple L Ranch a few miles south of Ulupalakua, continued with a wonderful wood fired pizza and killer view, and if it couldn’t get any better, I just encountered a living legend.

I’m feeling it in my bones. Share. “Hey kid,” I whispered to my teenage daughter, “See the guy in the baseball cap? He’s one of the most famous stand-up comedians and actors ever.”

“Really?” She doesn’t know the name Bob Newhart when I tell her, but all the same she’s impressed. She’s smart enough to know that a star is a star whether she knows him or not.

So we’re hanging out in the lobby waiting for Mom to emerge from the lua. I killed some time by skimming through a magazine. Saw a picture of Mick Fleetwood who lives Upcountry in Kula. I came of age on Fleetwood Mac. So here I am, in the same restaurant as Bob Newhart and standing probably within three miles of Mick Fleetwood’s home. Boy, if this ain’t heaven…

“Let’s go to the art gallery,” I said to Ariel.

We went downstairs to the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery. The nice lady there greeted us. I couldn’t help myself. “I think Bob Newhart is in the restaurant upstairs.”

“Are you sure it was Bob Newhart?” she asked me.

I replied, “Honestly, no. But when he smiled… I know that smile.”

“Did he look older than you expected?”

“Yes.”

“Then it was probably him,” she said with a knowing wink.

Went back upstairs to the lobby. Bob walks by me to go to the lua. We nodded at each other as random gentlemen acknowledging each other’s presence. Out of respect, I didn’t say anything to him, like thanking him for the thousands of laughs he has given me through the years, and, I assume, out of respect he didn’t say anything to me about the thousands of laughs I have given others by hiring stand-ups like him through the years. I let him enjoy his anonymity and his family and he let me enjoy mine.

Charlotte joins us in the lobby. “Bob’s in the bathroom,” I inform her.

And as the wonderful, classy woman my wife has been for nearly 25 years, she says, “You should go to the bathroom, too. Then you can say you took a crap with Bob Newhart!”

No thanks, I’ll pass. But God, I love that woman.

Mick Fleetwood

That night, several hours later, we went to Lahaina to see the amazing Ulalena show at the Maui Theatre. On my way to get the car I came face to face with Mick Fleetwood.

Charlotte didn’t believe me. I dropped her off with instruction to walk around the corner and look for tall guy, white pants, gray beard, gray ponytail, aloha shirt, lei, and British accent. And there he was.

That was yesterday. This morning I watched Legally Blonde II on TV with Ariel. “Hey kid,” I say. “See the guy next to Reese Witherspoon wearing the cap?”

“Yes, Daddy.”

“That’s Bob Newhart.”

Bob Newhart and Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde II

“Ah,” she said, “so he is a star!”

Most of you know Bob Newhart from his starring roles on TV, but you might never have seen his brilliant stand-up. YouTube “Bob Newhart stand up” and take your pick. Or enjoy the clip below from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, circa late 1960’s.

Bob Newhart on YouTube

“Okay, Let Me Have It”

I take no credit for Bo Irvine’s comedic talent. That came from Above. Suggesting what direction to go with that talent? Well, I’ll take a few points for that.

Bo and I usually drove into the Comedy Club in Waikiki together since we both lived in Kailua. It’s only 25 minutes in the car over the Pali, not enough time on our drive home to go over everything he did on stage that was right and wrong. So for the sake of his enjoyment, we would just focus on what he did that was wrong. It was a ritual that did wonders for our friendship.

I mean, heck, what he did that was right was not up for debate. Joke by joke, bit by bit, the audience’s votes are instantaneously tallied by the laugh meter. No need to run down that scorecard. Bo is a humble guy and there was no need to tempt him, no need for his head to start swelling unnecessarily.

Our discussions were about refinement. To steer his amazing raw talent in a direction that would enable him to have his own headline show in Waikiki some day. Cruise ships. Conventions. National television. Travel the world doing comedy.

It’s about more than Bo Being Funny. It’s about Bo being The Right Kind of Funny.

Money-Funny. Being funny where the money is. Entertaining locals – absolutely. Bo Namolokama Irvine is a Native Hawaiian. He mokes out with the best of’em. We’ve got that down. Check.

The challenge was to find our way to a unique place in the world of comedy entertainment in Hawaii, a level to which no performer had yet achieved. Ours was a long term plan and fortunately, time was our friend. There was no rush.

Bo Irvine would entertain visitors – not as easy as it sounds. He would bring aloha to their vacations via stand-up comedy, capturing their experiences in Hawaii from a visitor’s perspective. And then relate to them how a Hawaiian fares when he leaves the safe confines of his Hawaiian archipelago and ventures over to their neighborhoods on the mainland.

Which brings me back to our post-show ritual – one moment in particular.

The scene: Honolulu Comedy Club, Ilikai Hotel, Waikiki. Capacity 172, all seats full. Bo Irvine’s on the bill. He kills. Slaughters. There’s screaming. It’s a frenzy.

Show’s over. Bo stands near the exit to make himself available should anyone want to come over and shake hand, which pretty much everyone does, especially on this night.

“You were great.”

“We loved you.”

“You’re the best.”

“I can’t believe how funny you are.”

“Where did you come from?”

“How come I’ve never heard of you?”

Ad nauseum. On and on. I’m getting sick. 172 of these over a very long 10-15 minutes.

Last person leaves. The door shuts. Bo turns, looks at me and says, “Okay, let me have it.”

Let him have it? Like I’m going to find fault in perfection? There is no checklist to go down this night.

He’s arrived. Yes, he has definitely arrived.

Bo Namolokama Irvine headlines the Comedy Polynesia show every Wednesday and Saturday in at the Hawaii Comedy Theater, Sheraton Princess Ka’iulani Hotel in Waikiki. On Tuesdays, he’s at the Hale Koa Hotel: High & Right Comedy Night with Bo Irvine & Friends.

Had you been here two weeks ago, you could have seen him perform on the Norwegian Cruise Lines as it sailed between Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai.

Earlier this year He was performing at U.S. military bases in Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, and Bahrain.

His own headline show in Waikiki? Check. Cruise ships? Check. Conventions, National television? Check, check. Travel the world doing comedy? Check.

He’ll say that to me every once in a while with a sarcastic smirk. “Okay, let me have it.” Nope. The tables have flipped. Teacher is now student. And he rubs it in.