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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are some comedians who make me laugh even before they hit their first punch line. For me, one of those has always been the late Alan King, a.k.a. The Original King of Comedy. If you’ve never experienced Alan King, check out his classic Survived By His Wife routine from 1987. It will be the best 7 minutes of your day.
I hate Open Mic Nights.
I love Open Mic Nights.
I remember one Open Mic Night that went particular well.
I love Open Mic Nights.
21 auditioning comics on the bill.
The entire evening – no laughs.
Oh how I hate Open Mic Nights.
As you can see, when it comes to this topic I am really a basket case. We do it to find new talent and it is a no pain, no gain kind of situation. This particular Open Mic Night that went well sucked. Really. It was horrid.
We had been putting it off for months until the demand for wannabe comics forced us to put it on the schedule. And again, I can’t stress this enough, I am totally wrong on my Open Mic Night stance. I should embrace them, not loathe them. And here’s why.
As mentioned above, there were 21 comics on the bill. We gave them 3 minutes each. I sat in the back with Oahu-based headliner Bo Irvine and our club manager, Meredith. We watched one awful comic after another try out their comedy material to an audience that was pretty much silent. For each of the 21. Nothing. Pin drop. Because, to the audience’s credit, there was hardly anything to laugh at.
When it was over Bo, Mer and I compared notes. While no one got laughs, and I mean no one, there was one auditioner who, I dunno, he stood out above the rest. I was unusually comfortable when he was on stage. That’s because he was comfortable. He didn’t really do any traditional comedy material, per se. He kind of just told stories, and they were amusing. Three minutes. He had me. I liked him. In front of a good audience I could see him getting laughs.
Bo and Mer felt the exact same. We’d have been happier if we felt that way about 5-10 of the hopefuls, but there was just one and that was better than zero.
Mer called him the next day and invited him to do some time during a real show, with real comedians, with a good audience.
The kid was up to the challenge. He went over well. We gave him more stage time. He developed. His name was Augie Tulba.
And that’s why I’m wrong about Open Mic Nights.
It’s nice to know when you play even a small role in the making of a star. Especially when that star is also a good person.
As a comedy club owner, I simply hate Open Mic Nights. And I shouldn’t. I’m wrong. I should love them. But Open Mic Nights go against my nature. My DNA is wired to only put comedians on stage who are the best of the best, to ensure that audience responses are frenzied, so frenzied you can cut the electricity in the air with a knife.
Open Mic Nights don’t produce that kind of electricity. It’s closer to, oh, pain and agony. Please sir, I’d prefer that you slip bamboo shoots under my fingernails.
And yet, I’m wrong because today’s Open Mic Nights produce tomorrow’s stars. Next blog, an example of such.
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