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Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Redd Foxx In 3rd Row!

Of all the things to do in Waikiki, on this particular night the correct answer was the Honolulu Comedy Club.

“Bo,” I breathed with excitement into the phone. “Redd Foxx is sitting in our club right now. 3rd row.”

Powerless. Helpless. Bo Irvine was headlining at our Turtle Bay comedy gig on Oahu’s North Shore and was too far away to hele back into town to meet his idol. I knew Redd Foxx was on the top of Bo’s list, because a year or two prior to this we had a minor disagreement over the subject of Redd Foxx.

What happened was I had set Bo up for his first press interview with the Honolulu Advertiser. Cool. The next day I find myself reading in the paper that his comedy idol is none other than Redd Foxx. Not cool.

“Are you kidding me?” I whined at him. “Redd Foxx? REDD FOXX?? What the heck were you thinking!

Bo was bewildered. “Because the reporter asked me who my comedy inspiration was and I answered the question.”

“Truth has nothing to do with what you say to a reporter!”

“What’s wrong with Redd Foxx?” he asked, still not knowing where I was coming from.

“Well, nothing’s wrong with him. Great comedian. Legendary comedian. But he’s blue. Blue comedian. Very R rated. You’re not an R rated comic, but if you tell everyone Redd Foxx is your comedy idol everything might get the mistaken impression that you are trying to emulate him.  To be Redd Foxx.  To be R.  Bo Irvine is R.  But you R not R!”

“I was just telling the truth.”

He just doesn’t get it. Or maybe I’m the one not getting it. Yes, tell the truth. But no law says you have to tell the Whole Truth unless you’re in a court of law and your hand’s on the Book.

The reason this came up was because a few minutes ago I was on the phone with a very nice gentleman who works with a program that airs on MTV and also happens to be Redd Foxx’s grandson. He is working on starting a show in Las Vegas show at the hotel for which I am the entertainment consultant. I asked him a question that had been nagging me. “For years I’ve been telling people that Redd Foxx was in the audience at our comedy club in Honolulu six weeks before he passed away, that he was on his honeymoon. Do I have my facts right?”

I’d always been concerned that I dreamed this up. I’m in show business and delusion is contagious. I like knowing I have both feet on the ground. Besides, I distinctly remember calling Bo who raced back to Waikiki after his show was over but to no avail. Too late. Redd was gone.

Fact check: Green light, positive. Redd did honeymoon in Hawaii just before he passed away. Note to self: No senile yet.

I never did ask Bo if he cut a few minutes off his stand-up show that night at Turtle Bay to get back in time to meet his comedy inspiration. Bo always tells me the truth and I didn’t want to know. Do not shave points off the show to meet an idol. The truth? I can’t handle the truth.

Factoid: Redd Foxx’s real name was John Elroy Sanford. I never knew that!

Okay folks… If you can stomach blue R rated stand-up, which has NO relationship whatsoever to what Bo Irvine does on stage, here a link for ya: Redd Foxx

The Art of Heckling

Bo Irvine and I were discussing hecklers the other day. He loves them. He thrives on them. They lift his show into another stratosphere. Unlike myself, he is able to interact with multiple hecklers remembering their names, jobs and where they’re from – and somehow weave all of their lives together as the show progresses into one complex web of hysteria.

I marvel. Many moving parts, one very talented traffic cop controlling the flow.

Wait. I really shouldn’t term these audience members as “hecklers.” In Bo’s case, and mine, and many other comics – well, we ask questions of our audience. You’re in my living room and you are my guest. We talk. So when I say “heckler” I am referring to those seemingly unwanted outbursts from certain, oft-times drunk, members of the audience.

It’s a case of an audience member thinking that the comic can use his help. Sure.


Heckling the comic. It’s part of the show, right. Well, maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes.

There’s an art to heckling. As an audience member, if you do not have a firm grasp on the art form, it’s probably best not to go there. One of two things will likely happen:

A) The comedian will eat you up alive, or

B) You’ll destroy the show for everyone.

As comedy club owners, when “B” starts happening it’s time to step in. But which one of us should dive into the shark tank? The male comedy club owner or the female comedy club owner? It’s never a coin flip. The answer is always obvious.

If heckler is a female, send the male. Especially a drunk female. If Charlotte or Wanda were to quietly, silently tiptoe-crawl-sneak up to the drunk female hecker’s table so as not to attract any attention whatsoever and whisper ever so gently in her ear, “Please let the comedian control the flow of the show, it would really be appreciated,” she is likely to respond in a very loud voice, “F*** you!” which, frankly, does bring a certain amount of unwanted attention to that side of the room.

There is an unspoken communication between comedian and club owner. It, too, is an art. No game plans are discussed in advance between comedy club owner and comedian. The dynamics are universally understood in our industry. When I hear heckling, I’m in the showroom… watching. Monitoring. Making sure the heckler is a good heckler. That he or she knows what he or she is doing. That it’s helping the show, not hurting. And looking for subtle signs from the comic to measure if he is being frustrated by not being able to go where he wants.

The comic sees me lurking in the back. He knows he’s covered. If I ever feel the heckler is starting to hurt the show more than help, I lock eyes with the comic and give a subtle “Now?” gesture with my hands. He’ll either nod or subtly wave me off. Sometimes I am waved off immediately when he sees me come into view.

Many comics dream of good hecklers. Personally, as a comic I never remember laughs I get that come from my scripted lines, but will play back over and over in my mind the off-the-cuff lines that came out of nowhere in the heat and pressure of the moment.

You can tell when the heckler was good. The comic will seek out the heckler shake his hand. “Thanks for coming.”

And you can tell when the heckler was bad. The heckler seeks out the comic after the show and says, “Weren’t we great?!”

No, we weren’t.

I like heckling, both as an act myself and as a club owner. Canned stand-up can be seen on TV. Live in a comedy club spontaneity rules the day. You can feel the electricity in the air, bursts of energy caused by unplanned, unforeseen circumstances. Add brilliant comedians with brilliant heckling and the result is magic. For both it’s an art.

And Bo? He thrives on it.

Kento-san’s Excellent Adventure

Things to do in Waikiki. How about watch the filming of a national TV program?

When A&E’s Comedy On The Road with Jon Byner contacted us to film five of their shows at our club in Honolulu, producer Rick Messina called to ask me which of our Hawaiian-based comics would be good enough for the show.

Kento-san's national TV debut was when A&E filmed at our club

While many would have been intimidated to speak with someone of Rick Messina’s stature (Tim Allen’s personal business manager, executive producer of all of Tim’s movies, the Drew Carey Show, etc., etc.), but for me it was old home week. I’ve known Rick since he was a bartender at the East Side Comedy Club in Huntington, Long Island. We hadn’t spoken in years.

“You and who else?” Rick asked me.

The year was 1994 and the pickin’s were slim. Good local comics? Sure. I’ve got plenty.

But good enough for national TV? For a national audience that isn’t sensitized to the idiosyncrasies of our unique Hawaiian culture? We’re starting to narrow down the field. There’s me. Bo Irvine…

“How long of a set?” I replied

“8 minutes.”

“No problem. I’ve got one. Kento-san!”

This was early in Kento’s comedy career with us. At the time he had about 15 minutes of material. His first half was KILLER. Really, as good an 8 minute opening as any mainland comic I few over. From there he was still experimenting, still trying to find his sea legs. But if 8 minutes was all it took, he’s on the show baby and I’m proud to have my reputation behind it.

Beyond Kento, we had one other local comic who had fairly strong material. He, too, could have done the program. It’s just that I was never quite sure whose material he would be doing on any given night. It was an internal problem and we were dealing with it. (“Stop stealing other guys’ material. Please. Pretty please. Or we can’t let you work here.”) I didn’t exactly want to make this internal problem an external problem by putting him out there with my name attached. No thanks. We’ll just go with Kento-san. Original, extraordinary.

“Kento-who? Kento-what?” asked Rick.

“On the 1099 you can put Ken Komoto. On the rolling credits put Kento-san. He’s Japanese.”

“This program’s in English, Eddie.”

“Trust me.”

Which he did.

It’s now about two decades later and Kento comes equipped with an additional hour of KILLER material every bit as funny as his Original Eight. You can catch Kento-san every Wednesday and Saturday at our Hawaii Comedy Theater at the Sheraton Princess Ka’iulani Hotel in Waikiki.

Need balloons? Kento also runs the best balloon decorating and delivery company on the island, Flyin’ Hawaiian Balloons.

One of Kento-san's many balloon creations. No joke!

Molokai: Our Waitress Was a Waiter

It was a nightmare.

After working three shows at our Honolulu Comedy Club at the Ilikai in Waikiki, I finally made my way back to our condo at the Mauna Luan in Hawaii Kai and slipped into bed with my already fast asleep wife at a quarter past some ungodly early morning hour. Just as I was building up a good head of steam into my dreams, I started hallucinating that I was being awoken. Violently. So it seemed. By Charlotte. My wife.

In my stupor I looked over at the clock. Seven. I assumed it was a.m. 7am. Certainly not the time on a Sunday morning for a comedy club owner who worked three frenzied shows the previous night to be awakened.

So in this nightmare of mine Charlotte was looming over me, gently yet to me not so gently touching my shoulder in Get Up fashion. She had a mischievous smile and an explanation that sounded kinda like, “Happy birthday, our flight to Molokai leaves in 90 minutes.

Molokai? Oy!

Escape From Hawaii Comedy Dreams to Molokai Birthday Nightmare

Can’t we just go to Sandy Beach and gaze across the channel at the western Molokai shoreline? No dream. No such luck. Off to Molokai we went.

Upon landing we discovered that Kaluakoi, the island’s only resort, was on strike. Oh joy, oh rapture. Had Charlotte perhaps made reservations for this surprise birthday junket we MIGHT HAVE KNOWN THIS IN ADVANCE. But no. So we found ourselves a room in Kaunakakai.

We went for the nicest of all rooms in Kaunakakai. After all, it was my birthday. We entered the room. Nice curtains. White with thousands of brown speckles. Wait, those aren’t speckles. Termites. We’re out of there. Like running in a panic out of there. Found another hotel. Couldn’t have been any worse.

Ill-fated waterfall for Molokai pig

Driving west to hike into the Halawa Valley we passed two state workers asleep in a pickup truck. Upon arriving at the waterfall we encountered an awful smell. A dead body. No, whew, it wasn’t a human. Hair. Oh crap, it’s a bear. There are bears in these woods! No, that’s stupid. We’re in Hawaii. Look closer. A wild boar. Fell 2,000 feet to its demise from the mountain above. Stupid pig. One dead pig, no tourists, no luau to take advantage. Let’s get out of these woods.

Dinner. Restaurant. “Charlotte,” I said to my lovely bride of nearly two years several minutes into our meal, “when our waitress comes by again take a good hard look.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because our waitress is a waiter.”

Silence. Jaw hanging.

“No way.”

“Yes way.”

Eddie wins bet. Let’s get off this island. I will never laugh at another Bo Irvine Molokai joke as long as I live.

Did anything good come from this short break from Hawaii Comedy Club World? Can’t be completely certain, but after doing the math I do know that 40 weeks later our first child was born.

Downtown (and uptown) Kaunakakai

Maybe it wasn’t such a nightmare after all.

After reading this, perhaps some travel writer will write a second page to their Things To Do On Molokai book.

The 3 M’s of Bo Irvine

Bo Irvine is tri-lingual. He speaks three languages.

No, it’s not as impressive as it sounds on the surface. It’s not He Speaks English, Tongan, Arabic. Rather, all three of his languages are English-based. Okay, let’s call them dialects. And yet what he does with these dialects is quite impressive. Being tri-lingual enables him to add a rather unique element to his stand-up comedy shows in Hawaii regardless of whether he is performing for visitors, locals, military or trickier yet, a combination of the above. This is what you call a hidden treasure in the Hawaiian entertainment scene.

The 3 M’s? The languages? Mainland, Military and Moke.

Bo Speaks Mainland. This is especially helpful when it comes to performing for visitors to Hawaii. He’s lived on the mainland. He works during the day with mainlanders. He speaks their language. To personally witness the mainland dialect, catch him on the Comedy Polynesia show at the Sheraton Princess Ka’iulani Hotel in Waikiki sometime. Anytime.

And Bo Speaks Military. For years Bo’s day job was on military bases on Oahu – Barbers Point, Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe. He knows the culture. He’s lived it. He speaks their language.

I’ve watched it and I shake my head. Sometimes I don’t understand half the things he says. He throws acronyms at them and everyone starts laughing. He talks about pilots doing touch and go’s. Barracks rats. Beer-thirty. I’m lost. But the audience is laughing their butts off… which is why Bo Irvine headlines our High & Right Comedy Night show every Tuesday at the Hale Koa, a hotel at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki for active or retired U.S. military. He speaks their language. He is one of them. And yet Hawaiian. Top that. I can’t.

And finally, as a Native Hawaiian Bo Namolokama Irvine Speaks Moke. For our many readers from Arkansas who need a wiki-translation of moke, let’s go to the Urban Dictionary’s definition:

Anyone (usually of Hawaiian ancestry) who actively participates in one or more of the following moke activities-

    • Surfing
    • Bodyboarding
    • Bodysurfing with McDonalds Tray
    • Hawaiian Canoe Paddling
    • Driving a Lifted Pickup
    • Listening to Reggae/Jawaiian Music
    • Playing an ukulele
    • Stealing shoes/slippahs
    • Smoking Weed

There is one mandatory qualification though… For one to be a full fledged “moke”, one must be well versed if not fluent in pidgin english.

Ho, Brah… U such a moke, cuz…

Bo spent his teenage years on Ewa Beach (surfing more than studying). When my wife Charlotte and I took our first stroll on Ewa Beach I finally got it. It was a light bulb moment. Deep down this is who Bo Irvine is. The root. His essence. “Bo,” I said, “I finally understand. You’re a moke!

“Very good,” he said. “It took you how long to figure that out?”

Which is why he performs for locals in a language I don’t always fully understand. It’s his native tongue. But I love it the same. There’s something about being in a room where you can cut the laughter in the air with a knife.

Mainland, Military and Moke. The 3 M’s of Bo Irvine.