Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii Comedy’
Sometimes you just have to ask.
Our headliner that week, Steve Bluestein, had just delivered one of the most brilliant and daring ad libs ever witnessed on our Honolulu Comedy Club stage, and I had to know. Even from Steve, whose entire act was bantering with the audience, well, this one was over the top.
Bluestein (pronounced “stine,” not “steen,” as I was once and only once corrected) is a gem. He talks to the audience his entire time on stage in an endearing love-hate Rickles-lite kind of way, yet many of the things you hear from show to show are the same. He knows what questions to ask, where to lead the discussion, and has responses for seemingly every type of situation. Us other comics, we just sit back and marvel. The sheer control, the mastery. Off the charts.
But this one evening Bluestein went beyond.
Backstage after the show when our home was at the Top of the Ilikai, long before the Sarentos renovation, I asked about that particular interchange in his set. “Steve, I gotta know. Was that an ad lib?”
Of course when I say “backstage” I really mean “the kitchen.” But using terms like Green Room or Backstage sounds more impressive than Next To The Stainless Steel Commercial Dishwasher.
Steve thought about it for a moment. “Yes and no,” he replied.
I’d better tell you about the ad lib. He asked a question to a random older guy sitting several rows back. He looked like he was in his 70’s. Unexpectedly, the man’s response came with a thick German accent. Steve, whose last name identifies his Jewish heritage, was set to take full advantage. “Oh, a German! And what were YOU doing [looking at his watch] 50 years ago?”
Not waiting for an answer Steve continued, now speaking with his own German accent, “Vot, me? I vus a ski instructor! I had no idea anything vus happening. All I know is that ven I came back a few years later, the bagel shop at the corner? It vus gone.”
Only a Jewish comic can even think of getting away with a line like that, and even so, with great care and precision. Black comics can use the n word; white comics can’t. Only Jewish comics can do Jewish jokes. And, I might add, only Jewish club owners can write about Jewish comics doing Jewish jokes, especially on topics which are taboo to the extreme like this was. I digress.
The laughter was uproarious. There was no uneasiness, no “ooooooh’s.” It was a moment I’ll never forget. But was it an ad lib?
“What do you mean, yes and no?” I asked for clarification.
Steve explained, “Well, I’ve used that line before. A few years ago I had the same situation. There was an older German guy in the audience and I used line then. But back then it was an ad lib.”
Hmmmm… A repeated ad lib. That might be a good question for my Zen Master. Is “repeated ad lib” an oxymoron? If you use an ad lib a second time, is it still an ad lib?
I believe the answer is yes. Most definitely. Once an ad lib, always an ad lib. I’m glad I asked.
Before heading to Los Angeles for our family vacation this summer, I asked my 13 year old daughter what she wanted to do while there. She had one request: To meet George Lopez.
Personally, I think this was more than a I-Want-To-Meet-A-Star request. No, I think I was being tested. She’s thinking, “Okay Dad, you say you know George Lopez from when he worked at your comedy clubs in Hawaii, and that if he saw you again he would remember you. But is it really true?
George Lopez worked our comedy clubs in Hawaii before he hit it big. You never forget the people you meet on the way up.
I called Bo Irvine in Hawaii. Bo, Wanda Shipp, and I are partners at the Comedy Polynesia and Sharkey’s Comedy Club shows at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki. “Bo, who do you think I should call to get tickets to a filming of Lopez Tonight on TBS?”
“Call Bob Fisher,” he quickly replied. “And get an extra ticket for me. I’ll fly in. Haven’t seen George in years!” Bob Fisher is the owner of the Ice House Comedy & Magic Club in Pasadena, CA and for eight years was our Hawaii comedy consultant.
Bob made a call, Bo booked his flight, my daughter packed her camera. Our entourage descended upon Warner Bros Studios in Burbank for what turned out to be the Lopez Tonight’s 101st taping. Warming up the crowd was comedian-juggler Ron Pearson, who has also toured our comedy clubs in Hawaii. Bob and his wife Barbara joined us, as well as comedienne Kathy Buckley at whose house we stayed one night while in L.A.
The Kid’s Moment came midway through the taping.
Juggler Ron had already noticed that Ice House Bob was in the audience. During one of the show’s commercial breaks, Ron went up on stage and whispered in George’s ear pointing to Bob. George came down into the audience, hugged Bob, kissed Barbara, saw my wife Charlotte and I, big hugs, saw Bo, big hug, and Kathy, too.
“George,” I said, “meet our daughter.” Hug.
Dad delivered. More importantly, Dad passed the test.
As George returned to the stage to introduce his next guest, Jada Pinkett-Smith, he asked us to stick around after the show and come backstage.