Two old friends and one new one add up to a full card of contemporary comedy as Matt Kazam joins Andy Bumatai and Bu La'ia for a summer run in the showroom at Dave & Buster's. The room is perfect for comedy -- it's not too big, and because the room is designed with several levels, those who get seats toward the back still have a great view of the action.
By John Berger
In fact, people who don't want to provide some of the comics' material should head straight for the second level, where the view is excellent and you can stay out of harm's way.
Or, sit down front, take your chances, and be directly involved in the show. In any event, Kazam is off to a great start. His observations on Hawaii from a new arrival's perspective were an instant hit last weekend, as were his comments about life -- and gambling -- in Las Vegas. Most of the crowd could evidently relate on both fronts.
Much of his material is universal -- the complexity of kids' toys now as opposed to when we were growing up (when a stick was pretty much state-of-the-art), weight problems, perspiration, women who shave their eyebrows and then draw on new ones, and dealing with those annoying door-to-door religious solicitors. Even subjects that are immediately part of our local experience come across.
Kazam also has some great one-liners that I won't spoil by revealing them.
Overall, much of his humor is "adult" but not crude or vulgar, and he is both witty and a master of comic timing.
And, maybe it was luck, but I'm betting it was that skill that comes with years on stage that allowed Kazam to improvise some great material from comments made by people down front.
Another facet of Kazam's show that may change during the summer is the video footage that shows his experiences on the streets of Honolulu. The video screens before the live show starts. The topic on opening night was "Who is Matt Kazam?" None of the people he'd approached in Ala Moana Park had a clue.
On the other hand, a lot of them knew Andy Bumatai, and if they come to the show, they'll find Hawaii's first stand-up comic is still a master at it. Many Bumatai fans certainly have favorite bits that they enjoy hearing -- for instance, his observations on the "fish mouth" counter help at McD's, the conundrum that occurs when drinks come only in "medium" and "large," the experience of attending a Samoan wedding, and his classic account of cruising Waikiki with Don Ho.
Bumatai has never been better and is a perfect co-star for Kazam.
Bu La'ia, back on the scene after spending some time in jail (he says), is still establishing himself as a stand-up comic, but the veteran comic character brings a political edge to the evening as the opening act. Locals will appreciate the references to local politicians, and newcomers will find the meanings of Bu's bits of local slang evident from the context of his delivery.
All too noticeable last Saturday were the people in the back rows who talked noisily among themselves and were a distraction to customers in front of them. Veteran comics such as Kazam and Bumatai can handle hecklers, and sometimes solicit audience input, but people who yak obliviously while a comedian is performing should be asked by the management to go elsewhere.
Kazam, Bumatai and Bu La'ia, delivered a solid show nonetheless and should certainly make Dave & Buster's comedy central for Honolulu this summer.
With Matt Kazam, Andy Bumatai and Bu La'ia
'Live From the Strip'
Where: Dave & Buster's Showroom
When: 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, through Aug. 31
Admission: $25 includes two drink tickets (each good for one drink valued at $4.50 or less) and a $5 Dave & Buster's Power Card. A $10 fee will be collected at the door from people who have purchased $15 tickets previously.
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