Local comedian Andy Bumatai, 50, uses his middle-age and 22-year marriage in his stand-up act.

Making lemonade
from life

Andy Bumatai’s comedy
appeals to young, old,
tourists and locals alike

Andy Bumatai admits without reluctance that he uses stand-up comedy as therapy, "a way to be honest with myself and the audience." "Robin Williams said that stand-up comedy is cheaper than therapy," said Bumatai, a veteran Hawaii-born comedian who headlines "Make Me Laugh 5 Westside" Saturday. "And comedy is a lot cheaper than a shrink, since you're getting paid for talking about your life."

Comedy central

"Make Me Laugh 5 Westside" with Mo Dixon, Jeff Kino, Kento, Bryan Min and headliner Andy Bumatai

Where: Dot's in Wahiawa, 130 Mango St.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $20 advance, $25 at the door, available at Dot's, Jelly's (Aiea), Samurai (Kapolei Shopping Center), and Rainbow Books and Music (University Avenue)

Call: 622-4115

Bumatai has performed throughout the United States, as well as Hawaii, so he's had to mold his routine to accommodate local and nonlocal audiences.

"I'm kinda bifurcated," he says. "My perfect audience is half local and half tourist. So I can mix my mainland and local knowledge.

"If I say a local word like mahu, I'll look at a tourist and say, 'Oh, excuse me, that's hairdresser.' The visitor understands what I mean, and the local cracks up because he understands the local meaning."

Bumatai then quickly switches gears, getting more serious about the craft.

"When you try to explain comedy, it doesn't work," he says. "Dissecting comedy is like dissecting a frog. You find out how it works, but it kills the thing."

Bumatai says there are three parts of him working any gig.

"There's the guy performing, the accountant who keeps tabs on the routine -- 'You did this, don't do that again' -- and the director who is going, 'Slow down, move faster, play the back (of the club), ignore that person in the front eating.'

"All these things are working in your head while you're on stage. No wonder we're neurotic."

Another part of his routine is geared to give Hawaii visitors insight on local culture.

"People always want to learn something about locals when they travel, and there's no better way to learn about a culture than what they laugh at," he said.

Another ingredient in his comic stew is making himself vulnerable and staying real.

"Audiences can always see through b.s.," Bumatai said. "I've always talked about what I'm going through."

Since he turned 50 last year, Bumatai uses his middle-age, being married 22 years, and having-two-teenagers-syndrome in his act.

"Yeah, I've got teenagers," he says. "I used to have kids; now I've got bad roommates."

Bumatai recently performed at the Hawaii Mission Academy, and he was surprised how well his humor connected with the graduating seniors.

"I told them when I want to drive my teenager nuts, I refer to them as M&M and Skittles and they cracked up," he said. "When I said I never felt old until I had to put on my glasses to change the battery in my hearing aid, they roared."

Funny man Kento will help get the crowd laughing at "Make Me Laugh 5 Westside."

ENTERTAINMENT often has been described as the most difficult field to be successful, and within comedy, stand-up is the toughest. But Bumatai remembers people laughing at his jokes when he was in elementary school.

"I was naturally funny," he said. "It was a calling.

"In the fifth grade, I would do a pantomine to a (Bill) Cosby comedy album for show 'n' tell, and the next year I memorized the whole thing and did it."

When Bumatai was in his 20s, he was a copy machine salesman. After seeing the Woody Allen film "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask," he attended a "schmooze party" of copy machine executives.

"I started doing the movie and in 25 minutes I explained it in bits and I was killing them," he said. "This mainland Xerox executive comes up to me and says I should seriously consider being a stand-up comic."

Bumatai took the advice to heart and the following week went to an open mic night at a local pizza joint.

"I died like a rat," he said. "I thought my bits were funny, but they were yelling at me to get off the stage. And listen to this: Before I stepped down, I yelled out, 'Remember my name, because you guys are going to brag some day that you saw my first performance.'

"How embarrassing."

Bumatai is now co-writing a screenplay for a television series, hopes to appear in more films, and now that his kids are older, is going back on the road on the mainland.

"I want to do a TV series here that is organically grown and doesn't treat local people just as extras and all the stars have to be from the mainland," he said. "That's never been funny."

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