Well-designed comedy


POSTED: Friday, November 13, 2009

Anyone can perform a great stand-up comedy set alone in their car during rush hour traffic. Taking that act beyond the fantasy stage requires getting out in public, testing it on other people and finding out what bits work and what bits need work.

Veteran comics already comfortable working an audience also need a place to test material. Successful singers sometimes complain about fans expecting to hear the same old hits and nothing but the hits, but if a comic tells the same jokes too many times, fans might think they've run out of ideas.

Veteran comic Lanai Tabura addresses both sides of the issue on Wednesdays at the Honolulu Design Center's Cupola Theatre.

Lanai—his public moniker for more than two decades—is co-headlining the local comedy showcase with two other stand-up veterans, Shawn Felipe and Kaleo Pilanca. Newer talents also have a chance for stage time when space is available.





        Featuring Lanai Tabura, Shawn Felipe and Kaleo Pilanca

» Where: Honolulu Design Center, 1250 Kapiolani Blvd.


» When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Dec. 2


» Cost: $12 (food and drinks available)


» Call: 956-1250




Champ Kaneshiro, the designated host of the show, was indisposed when I stopped by last week, so Lanai was the emcee and two younger talents—David Lee and Paul Kane—got an opportunity to perform.

Lee, a versatile comic who can do costumed characters and musical impressions as well as straight stand-up, stuck to the basics that night—bits about his ex-girlfriend, his daughter, private schools and that (real) scar on his body that looks like a “;happy face.”;

Kane reversed Andy Bumatai's classic bit about being mistaken for Mexican in Los Angeles into a bit about mistaking a Mexican for a Hawaiian in Los Angeles. He also explained why he is offended by “;Hawaiian pizza”; and pondered the possible reaction if he put watermelon on pizza and then named it according to hackneyed American stereotypes.

The second half of his act consisted of telling jokes while dancing (Pilanca kindly served as his sound man).

Felipe has been a solid opening act for several recent comedy shows at the Pipeline Cafe. His characterization of his Thai mother is so popular that he'd get complaints if he didn't include her—and so Felipe shared his mother's reaction to his choice of career and explained why he would never marry a Thai woman. The rest of the set was also familiar material, but very well received by the audience.

Lanai also reworked familiar material—that old joke about thinking that the guy next to you in the restroom is talking to you when he is actually talking on a cell phone. He stepped into Will Rogers territory with observations on the possible impact of legalizing marijuana, and the negative results of the “;Green Harvest”; program. Lanai also connected with the audience with an insightful bit on the local usage of the word “;stupid.”;

Pilanca closed the show with his own classic bit. No one old enough to be out alone should be so gullible as to take him up on his suggestion that it would be OK to wear a stocking mask when going into a bank, but he puts it out there in a logical manner.

Pilanca also had some memorable zingers: “;What do you call a girl with plenty boy friend? Hoo-chee!”;

Over all, he was energetic, working off audience members in some bits, telling stories and letting them respond to sight gags in others. Pilanca's “;fashion tips”; on how to wear caps and trousers were well thought out, and expanding the concept of “;clueless guys”; with a cavalcade of stale pickup lines ended the evening on an amusing note.