James Roche, back, and Tony Silva make up the comedy duo Da Braddahs.

Da Braddahs go buck wild

2 rising comedy stars will see
if their gags go well with dinner

By John Berger

As Da Braddahs, dey get da laffs easy, brah -- but what's it take for Tony Silva and James Roche to get the respect they're due when they step away from the characters they portray?

"This woman recognized me and asked who was producing us," Silva said recently over lunch with his partner. "I told her we were and she said, 'Yes, but who's really producing you?'"

It sounds like just another example of performers being mistaken for the characters they portray. Silva and Roche are experts at playing jus' local boys of good intentions and limited intelligence, always a popular character type in contemporary local comedy. Talk to them off stage, however, and they're two sharp and serious professionals who share a keen appreciation of the "entertainment business."

Over some light Eurasian fare at Indigo (forget plate lunches!), the conversation covers such diverse topics as local record sales, indie film funding and production costs, Don Ho's all-around brilliance as an entertainer and show business icon, the financial aspects involved in designing and producing logo attire and other promotional items, the success of their self-produced comedy series, "Da Braddahs & Friends," and their latest project, "Jus Buckaloose Live," a dinner/comedy show at the Hawaiian Hut tomorrow.

"We'll be serving (food) in character before the show," Roche said, adding that Zanuck Lindsey will be working with them as the leader of the Buckaloose Bandits band.

The show is another new endeavor for the duo as they continue to define their own niche in local comedy. Roche says he and Silva are always looking for new ideas, new material and new places to try them out.

"Tony and I are aspiring filmmakers, but the live side of comedy is an important part of what we do," he said.

It's evident as Roche and Silva talk that they're opportunists in a positive sense -- that is, if an opportunity comes their way, they'll give it their best shot, ready or not. For instance, Roche recalls their 1998 comedy album, "Buckaloose," as a recording opportunity that came their way after another act apparently had to bow out of the project. He and Silva hadn't planned to put themselves out there that way that soon, but they saw it as a chance to introduce themselves to a larger audience and test some of their character sketches.

They acknowledged their debt to "Raps" (Rap Reiplinger) in the liner notes and even admitted that "we're not professional." Indeed, much of the material was rough and frankly derivative of the seminal "kanaka komedy" of Booga Booga, but the album established them as a presence in local comedy. The phrase "Jus Buckaloose" began popping up via bumper stickers everywhere, and Da Braddahs' stars have been rising ever since.

They've faced live audiences with the same risky attitude.

"I remember an early show when someone yelled, 'You'd better not be making fun of Samoans,' and I thought, 'Well, at least we've got the voices right!'" Silva said. "Now kids ask for those characters because they're like their grandparents."

Silva says his own kids give him plenty of input and that the public response he and Roche receive also helps them in shaping their material. Their long-term goal is to refine and define a style of local comedy that will be true to Hawaii but also as accessible and popular on the national level as African-American comedy has become -- or as Cheech & Chong once were.

At the same time, Silva and Roche agree that they say they never want to lose touch with that uniquely local experience of entertaining at parties and baby luaus.

Except maybe, as Silva put it, "when you have to change (costumes) in the bushes, in weeds this high, and somebody's trying to watch you!"

'Jus Buckaloose Live'

Where: Hawaiian Hut, Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Drive
When: 8:15 to 10:30 p.m. tomorrow
Tickets: $28 (includes all-you-can-eat dinner, food available from 8:30), available at Hawaiian Island Creations (Ala Moana and Pearlridge) and Tower Records (Ala Moana, Pearl Kai and Kahala Mall)
Call: 381-1990

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