Bumatai's new show: Scenery eats the guests


POSTED: Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Comedian Andy Bumatai has ditched the live band and generic late-night show set from his former “;NiteTime”; program for a high-tech, computerized, green-screen affair renamed ... (wait for it) ... “;The Andy Bumatai Show.”;

“;TABS,”; as entertainment industry insiders call it (all right, just me) runs five nights a week at 9:35 on KFVE. The first week offered some unintentionally amusing moments thanks to the highly technical nature of the show. If you've ever watched a TV weather report, you know that a “;green screen”; is the thing the weathercaster stands in front of, pointing out clouds and rainstorms. In the studio it's just a green backdrop, but television viewers see maps, satellite photos ... any computerized image you want to throw up there.

Andy's using a green screen in his show, but during the first few episodes, the screen was so close, the light was bouncing off it onto him and his guests. The result was bizarre. At least for viewers.

“;I leaned toward my guest in one shot, and to viewers it looked like I was sucking on the neck of David Uchiyama, marketing director for the Hawaii Tourism Authority,”; Andy said. “;At other times parts of bodies disappeared. ... The green screen was literally eating my guests. It was like a horror movie.”;

  When the show began airing on Jan. 5, Andy realized he had underestimated the challenges of putting on such a high-tech production. Few people know that Andy is quite a techno-geek. He tried to explain to me what he was doing.

“;I am attempting the first five-camera, green-screen, phosphorus-lighting, syncopated, hydro-giga-hyperactive thingamajiggy.”; Actually, I don't really know what he said. I lost track after the five-camera/green-screen thing. But it sounded terribly complicated.

As a professional comedian, Andy has the ability to see the humor in anything, even his own technical screw-ups. So he actually showed replays of the green screen gobbling up guests on later shows after those glitches had been worked out. At least he thinks they've been worked out.

“;I spent the weekend tweaking them,”; he said. “;Any one of those things would be a challenge to get working, and I'm trying to do four or five at once. I'm on the bleeding edge.”;

The new show is sort of a “;Charlie Rose Lite,”; Andy says, with guests talking about a single subject each night. What makes the show even more cutting or bleeding edge is that each episode is shot at 6:30 p.m. and aired that night. While he doesn't do a standard comic's monologue, he does a “;deskologue”; at the beginning of the show in which he “;addresses,”; which is to say, savages, makes fun of or lampoons issues of the day.

He stresses the show is about topics, not the guests. The topic tomorrow night is gambling. And for some reason, he's asked me to be a guest along with Mel Cabang. Mel and I are gambling we'll get away from that green screen alive.