CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Augie T., who will deliver his latest stand-up comedy "in the round" at Blaisdell Arena Friday, says the last time he performed at the arena, he was getting knocked down in a boxing ring.
Augie T is back, and standing
After sold-out performances at the Hawaii Theatre and Farrington High School, Augie Tulba knew there was only one venue left to conquer.
"Even if we never sell out this next show, the fact that my name is flashing on the Neal Blasidell Center marquee ... (is) the coolest thing," the comedian said last week while eating lunch on the grass at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue. "This is it, brah."
'The Main Event'
With Augie T. and Friends
Place: Blaisdell Arena
Time: 8 p.m. Friday
With more than 5,000 tickets already spoken for, Tulba is confident there will be a strong turnout by fans ready to laugh at his new material.
He just hopes there won't be a repeat of the performance he gave the last time he was in the arena.
"The last time I was here, I got knocked down," he said. "It was my last pro fight."
Before turning to comedy, Tulba laced up boxing gloves and fought a number of times. As he sat on the grass and recounted his experiences, a truck pulled up to the stoplight nearby.
Tulba did a double take, then yelled out a greeting to the driver.
"That guy was on the undercard the same night," he exclaimed. "Alex Pelen! We both turned professional the same night!"
Before this show, there was only one other time Tulba considered a return to the Blaisdell.
About five years ago, promoter Tom Moffatt put together a card that featured Brian Villoria, another local fighter. He needed fighters for preliminary matches, so Moffatt picked up the phone and gave Tulba a call.
"Uncle Tom said, 'What would it take for you to get back in the ring?' " Tulba recalled. "I knew I didn't want to fight a pushover. ... I was thinking me and Jesus (Salud), just one night. One round. We've known each other from small kid (time), so it would have been a really exciting fight."
Tulba ultimately decided against a boxing comeback and focused instead on his comedy career. And now Moffatt is involved again.
"What a guy to be linked to," said Tulba. "Everything is planned, from the backstage party to the calling of radio and TV stations.
"I only have nice things to say about Mr. Moffatt. Hopefully he'll be reading this interview and will cut his percentage!"
FOR TULBA, stand-up comedy is all about striving for excellence and providing audiences with a fresh perspective.
"I'm the guy who loves working hard," he explained. "When you come to my show, you're always going to hear something new."
What helps keep him sharp is a new weekly television show and gigs on three different Hawaii radio stations.
"The Augie Show" debuted earlier this year to positive reviews, and Tulba revealed that he and producers Ryan Kawamoto and James Sereno have already completed writing half of the episodes for a second season.
And while he no longer broadcasts on an Oahu-based frequency, Hawaii residents can hear Tulba doing mornings on Molokai's KMKK 102.3 FM and Maui's Q103. He also does afternoons on Kauai's 95.9 FM and expects to start hosting mornings on a new Hilo-based station this summer.
"It's done the same way most nationally broadcasted shows are syndicated," Tulba said. "I take phone calls ... everything is there; we just plug in and go."
SATURDAY'S SHOW will feature the same cast of characters that have accompanied Tulba on his travels for the past three years.
Turk "The Hawaiian Hurricane" Cazimero, Champ Kaneshiro and Timmy Mattos will each take a turn in front of the crowd before Tulba comes out for a 40-minute set. Tulba's brother, Michael, will be there with his band Off Nite to play during breaks in the action.
"The Main Event" will also serve as a fundraiser for Tulba's Speak the Dream Foundation, which aims to provide college scholarships to disadvantaged high school students.
"I want to give $12,000 of my hard-earned money to a kid who could go and change the way folks look at local people," said Tulba. "To get to this point where I can give back and enjoy what I'm doing ... that's the most gratifying thing."
This year, students from five Hawaii high schools -- Honokaa, Waianae, Kawaiahae, Molokai and Baldwin -- are invited to apply for the scholarship online at www.speakthedream.com. Tulba hopes to expand the program and increase its funding in the coming years.
"When I was going school, they had (scholarships), but it was so hard to find," Tulba said. "I don't want to do a walk, because I don't walk anymore. I don't want to do a telethon. I'm just hoping my God-given talents can be used in a way that gives back.
"You never know. We might just change the way people look at Hawaii in the next 20 years."