COURTESY SHARKEY'S COMEDY CLUB
Kento, of the Comedy Crusaders, says improv "can be terrifying." But his troupe will brave the stage Friday to raise funds for the Hawaii Foodbank.
Telling jokes and acting out sketches are how this group plans to help the poor
While laughter will be at the forefront Friday night, the Comedy Crusaders Improv Troupe is quite sincere in their behind-the-scenes mission to raise awareness for area nonprofit agencies.
'Laughing for Hunger'
Place: Sharkey's Comedy Club, 99-016 Kamehameha Highway in Aiea
Time: 8 p.m. Friday; doors open at 7
Tickets: $10 with four cans of food, or $15
Ten of the 13 members of the comedy troupe, based out of Sharkey's Comedy Club, have signed on to tell plenty of jokes while collecting both monetary donations and canned goods for the Hawaii Foodbank.
The troupe will also be celebrating an anniversary: Comedy Crusaders officially turns a year old. It's no accident that the benefit for Hawaii Foodbank falls on this anniversary, said Kento, a longtime stand-up comedian for Sharkey's and a core member of the improv group who goes by one name.
"There's a lot of hungry people on the street; families with children," said the self-described "comedy provocateur." "And we think that when you have a full stomach ... you can do better."
Kento, with more than 17 years of stand-up experience under his belt, said the collective of local comedians is "crusading for more causes and benefit shows. We're getting more exposure through the shows and finding our strengths as a group."
The six core members and seven part-timers with the troupe have more 50 years of combined comedy experience.
"Performing comedy is kind of like performing music," Kento said. "In stand-up, you're working as a solo act. But with improv, everyone is a lead guitarist and a member of the back-up band. Improv is an ensemble. We've been working together for a year, and in improv, a year is traditionally considered a long time. We know how each other thinks, and can spontaneously involve the audience as much as possible."
COURTESY SHARKEY'S COMEDY CLUB
The Comedy Crusaders.
The Comedy Crusaders -- which includes fellow comedians director Bobby Duncan, Justin "Big Lou" Louis, Emi Noguchi, Su Yates, Michael Hraba, Dennis Liejewski, Dean Taylor, Kehau Rezentes and Kevin Won -- raised funds during a benefit show for the March of Dimes last year.
Improvised routines are reinforced through weekly shows held on Friday nights at Sharkey's, relying on two-dozen audience-participation scenarios. Popular games include "Slips" -- in which audience members write down a phrase or suggestion -- and "TV Building" -- which plays off of familiar shows.
"A lot of sketch comedies can be somewhat limiting," said Kento. "Sketch comedy requires discipline and rehearsal. But in improv, we're making a lot of this up on the spot, though there are scenarios and suggestions from the audience. It can be terrifying but that's when people with more experience might step in. We've got some members who have great facial expressions and others, great voices, and it's about getting the particular talent up front at the right time."