Augie Tulba, right, and best friend Grant "Lanai" Tabura keep their audience laughing with their morning show on Island 98.5.

Augie T steps up

» 'Comedy Showcase' lineup

'Augie T's Hawaii'

Where: Hawaii Theatre

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 25

Tickets: $20 to $25

Call: 528-0505

BET YOU didn't know that this very newspaper helped get Augie Tulba started on the path towards comedic success.

"Thank you Honolulu Star-Bulletin for letting me make some money," said the 36-year-old earlier this week while sitting at a lobby table in Dole Cannery. During his teens, Tulba worked as a delivery boy for the newspaper.

"I got to buy my first album because I had my own money that I made," he said. "I had this mentality that if I like something, I gotta work at it."

For the record, the first album he ever bought was the late Rap Reiplinger's "Poi Dog With Crabs," along with another by the Eagles.

And the third album he purchased?

It was a release by another local comedy legend -- Andy Bumatai's "Andy: Live in Waikiki!"

WITH TWO Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for "Best Comedy Album" under his belt, a steady morning radio gig at Island 98.5 with best friend Grant "Lanai" Tabura and a string of successful performances at various local venues to his credit, these days Tulba is looking towards the next step in his career.

And that next step leads straight to the mainland.


Tulba hopes that producing a DVD of tomorrow's concert and passing it around to friends and business contacts will help convince someone to give him a shot at the big time.

"My whole goal is to get to Leno by January," he said as we sat and talked a few minutes after finishing his morning show with Tabura. "Whether or not I get there, it's a big goal to have ... I'm the kind of guy who shoots for something."

THOSE WHO know the story of Tulba's upbringing shouldn't be surprised by his shoot-for-the-moon attitude.

As the oldest of six sons, Augusto Emery Tulba grew up in Kalihi's Kam IV housing when the only way out of a confrontation was with your fists.

By the time he was 16 years old, Tulba had managed to turn his fighting ways from a negative into a positive, becoming a Golden Gloves champion with aspirations of a professional boxing career. But the birth of his first child a few years later meant hanging up the gloves and getting a job to support his young family.

It was in 1991 that he got his first taste of stand-up comedy, taking top honors during an open mic night at the old Honolulu Comedy Club.

Soon he was working with the very same people he idolized years before. Andy Bumatai helped to develop some of his earliest material, and helped the budding comic to realize that it wasn't always necessary to use profanity in order to get a laugh.

The surviving members of Booga Booga took him under their wing as well, first hiring Tulba as a lighting technician before he ended up performing with the group on-stage in 1993. By the end of the decade, most local residents were familiar with "Da Moke Wit Da Joke" and cheered when he ran across the stage to claim his first Hoku Award in 1999.

"I get paid for be silly," Tulba says. "The popularity stuff like that no really get to me, honestly. Three, four years ago ... even after winning one Hoku I was still riding The Bus.

"I no like lose that local boy feel."

WHEN TULBA takes the stage at the Hawaii Theatre tomorrow night, longtime fans will see the comedian at the top of his game, a progression that's taken him from toilet humor to an introspective look at where he fits into the world and the way outsiders view those from the islands.

"I want to be the contemporary moke, but at the same time show a different side," he says. "I'm the blue collar comic, the working man, the guy you can relate to."

Tulba also points to Latino comedian George Lopez as an example of how a minority can make it in Hollywood and be accepted by mainstream audiences.

"What's the difference between me and the Latino comics," asks Tulba. "What, we no speak English or something?

"I think that's such a dumb mentality, because if you ever hear people from the Midwest talk, you cannot even understand them, and they're supposed to be able to speak English!"

The concert will also give people a chance to meet some of Tulba's family members, the same people who often end up as the butt of his jokes.

"You'll get to see my mom, my dad, my brothers and my kids," he says. "I'm going to have my mom give away door prizes ... and my brothers and my kids are gonna run into the audience.

"It's going to be a beautiful thing," Tulba said. "I'm very confident and focused on making this show go well."


Lineup for
‘Comedy Showcase’

It's a double dose of comedy tomorrow night, as Andy Bumatai's "Comedy Showcase" goes head-to-head with Augie T's spotlight gig downtown.

Bumatai will be joined by his fellow Palace Showroom compatriot Paul Ogata for this special showcase which replaces the normally scheduled show that usually includes Frank DeLima.

Also on the bill will be Gerard Elmore, Milton Banana, Cathy Tanaka, Brian Lentz, Kaleo Pilanca, Rufus DeMarco, KHVH radio's Mike Buck, KHON 2 News' Kirk Matthews, and some so-called "humor columnist" from this very newspaper named Charles Memminger.

Admission to the Ohana Reef Towers' 8:30 p.m. show is $10 with a one-drink minimum. Reservations may be made by calling 923-SHOW (7469).

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