The Hawaii Comedy Blog

The official blog of the gang at Hawaii Comedy Theater

Posts Tagged ‘sharkey’s comedy club’

Once an Ad Lib, Always an Ad Lib

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.

Rush to Greatness

Rush? Nope! It's Las Vegas Comedian Kevin Burke's last minute 2010 Halloween costume

The night after enjoying Mel Cabang’s show at our new Sharkey’s Comedy Club Las Vegas (Clarion Hotel and Casino on Convention Center Dr.), former island comic Steve Dennis and I headed over to see comedian-friend Kevin Burke at the Fitz Casino & Hotel (downtown Las Vegas) where he stars in his one man show, “Fitz of Laughter.” Kevin also stars in the Vegas edition of “Defending The Caveman” at Harrah’s on the Strip. Two shows per night, pretty much every night of the week with barely enough time to drive between the two gigs.

This might sound trite, but sitting in the back of the room with Steve before the show, I asked Kevin what makes him so outrageously successful in a world of many very talented and starving comics. He said he didn’t know, then walked to the stage to start the show as his opening music was playing. 10 seconds later he walks back to us and says, “The reason I am so successful is due to my unfailing attention to detail,” at which point he picked up the cordless mic he had inadvertently left sitting on the seat beside us and proceeded to the stage once more leaving Steve and I hysterical and the rest of the audience wondering what the heck Kevin said to us as he walked from us to them.

Later that evening after Steve and I had left the showroom, Kevin calls my cell and says, “I believe secret to success is to assume that at every show there may be someone there who is seeing a show for the very first time… and someone seeing a show for the very last time.”

Hmmm… that’s something we may all want to consider.

No, the photo above isn’t Rush Limbaugh. It’s Kevin throwing together a last minute Halloween costume. Simplicity works best.

Sweetie Pacarro from KSSK called me a few months ago while I was in Vegas. We were both in Vegas at the same time, actually. She was there scouting talent for the upcoming annual Perry & Price live remote from LV on April 2nd and ran into a friend of mine, comedian Geechy Guy. Geech knew I was in town and Sweetie called me to say hi. Never mind that it was 11pm, but it’s Vegas and I was quite awake (don’t try that when I’m at home!). I was leaving LV the following morning so Sweetie and I didn’t have a chance to connect, but on the phone she asked me if I knew of anyone who would be good for the show. Absolutely. I put her in touch with Kevin.

Not sure if they ended up connecting and if he’s booked on the show, but when I tune into Mike & Larry tomorrow morning I guess I shall find out!

A few final notes: Defending The Caveman was written by comedian Rob Becker who used to play our Honolulu Comedy Club (Ilikai Hotel) and Hawaiian Islands Comedy Tour (Maui Marriott – Ka’anapali, Sports Page – Kihei, Kauai Hilton, Kona Surf Resort Poi Pounder Showroom). The show, born from his standup routine, plays in cities around the globe.

From Caveman’s website: “Defending the Caveman holds the record as the longest running solo play in Broadway history. Caveman is also now a worldwide rock-solid tour de force that has won the hearts of millions and it’s sure to win yours.  Caveman has been seen in 45 countries and translated into 30 different languages (and counting!).”