Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, June 15, 2001

Frank De Lima clowns around behind the scenes, too. The
funny man will entertain dads and their families at Dot's in 

Wahiawa Sunday.

25 years of
local laughs

Highs, lows and help
for children define
Frank De Lima's career

By John Berger

After 25 years as an entertainer, Frank De Lima has learned to go with the flow. How are things going this year? It depends when you ask him:

>> De Lima learned "at the last minute" that the hotel where he expected to perform on Father's Day as usual was pulling out on him. No venue, no show. Homeless, auwe!

>> De Lima found a new venue at Dot's in Wahiawa. Public response was so strong that his Father's Day luncheon show quickly sold out, and a prime-rib buffet dinner show was added.

>> Now, De Lima's manager reports, the powers that be at the Tropical Surf Grill & Bar (formerly the Captain's Table) have informed them that De Lima's long-running weekend engagement there will be terminated at the end of the month. Now what?

With all the drama unfolding, De Lima has been on the road entertaining fans on the neighbor islands, Alaska and the mainland. And, despite current setbacks -- he's faced them before -- De Lima is also working on several projects commemorating his quarter-century in show business.

"I'm working on 'Frank De Lima's Silva Anniversary' CD that should be released in the summertime. It has 22 comedy bits from my 13 albums, 11 of which won Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for best comedy album of the year," he said.


The album will also include a serious number, "Waimea Lullaby," which takes De Lima outside his usual repertoire of song parodies. The song was originally released as the B-side of an early Pocholinga Records vinyl single. A song called "Honoruru, Hawaii" was the expected hit, but the public embraced "Waimea Lullaby" instead. De Lima's recording won "Song of the Year" honors for composer Patrick Downes at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1980.

"Waimea Lullaby" continues to be popular with De Lima fans.

"My mother likes that song," De Lima says in explaining his decision to add a serious love song to a comedy album.

Another of his works in progress is a book that will cover the "funny moments" of his life from childhood on. He's been recording his memories and interviewing his mother, brothers, sisters, baby sisters and other longtime friends who might remember funny things he's forgotten.

Maybe it was a matter of trying to forget life's embarrassing moments, but one of the incidents recalled by his family was a time all religious statues in the church were covered with purple cloth in observance of Lent. Young Frank wanted to practice the ritual at home, but lacking the right cloth, he covered the statues with his black socks.

A third project is a "Best of" video that will contain some of his favorite bits from his three previous videos, plus unreleased material.

He's also working on his upcoming birthday party/fund-raiser at Wisteria on July 8. Proceeds will benefit Frank De Lima's Student Enrichment Program. (Call 591-9276 for more information.)

"I visit 175 schools a year, and it takes two years to visit all public and private schools statewide from kindergarten to eighth grade," De Lima says, suddenly becoming more serious. De Lima often jokes about his personal foibles, but his commitment to working with school kids isn't a comic bit or a promotional vehicle. The former would-be priest considers it his way of giving back to the community and contributing to the future.

"I started this two-year plan two years ago when Chevron USA took over sponsorship of the program. The dealers of each station put in money, and then the corporation matches it. That's what's keeping my program alive.

"I've just finished talking to the children on getting along, and for the next two years, I'll be talking about acceptance -- acceptance of one's self, of others, of philosophies and religions, and not be ashamed of who we are.

"Every time I talk to the kids, I approach pride and humility a different way. Pride turns to arrogance, so that's why we have humility to balance it out. That's basically my goal for the next two years, and of course, I deliver it in a fun way."

De Lima uses some of the same material that's made him a hit in Waikiki. Stories about the experiences of Masa, a Japanese character, and Manuel, who is Portuguese, illustrate the importance of respecting other people and other cultures.

"Everybody has differences and idiosyncrasies. The humble part is accepting the fact that nobody's perfect, and people can see something funny in their own customs."

And, although losing his current Waikiki venue is no laughing matter, De Lima remains upbeat. Maybe he'll reopen elsewhere in Waikiki. Maybe he'll concentrate a while on playing weddings and parties, just going with the flow.

Laugh it up with Dad

What: Frank De Lima's Father's Day Dinner Show
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Dot's in Wahiawa,
What: Frank De Lima's Father's Day Dinner Show
Call: 622-4115.

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