It’s a long time since the days of “Rap’s Hawaii,” Booga Booga and the 3 Local Boyz, but what local comedy today lacks in superstars, it makes up for with variety. There’s enough, in fact, that when the 2nd annual Hawaii Sketch Comedy Festival takes the stage at Doris Duke Theatre it expands to two nights: “Live from Honolulu” on March 31 with national and local comics, and “Two Scoops Funny” on April 1 with an all-local lineup. Plus there’ll be panels and workshops for aspiring writers, comedians, actors and other creatives.
The LOL fest is the creation of Kimee Balmilero, a Kaneohe girl who debuted on Broadway with “Mamma Mia,” toured with the cast of “Miss Saigon” and performed comedy around the country. Balmilero also founded improvhi.com and teaches improv in Honolulu. We asked her three questions and got her picks for must-sees at the comedy festival.
What is sketch comedy?
It’s like what you see on “Saturday Night Live.” It’s like “Rap’s Hawaii.” It’s shorter, stories, usually scripted, totally joke-based, right? The cool thing is you can do topical sketches which usually hit really well, especially during a presidential campaign season like this.
Good sketch comedy makes you think, and/or it can just be goofy. It can be as simple as a fart joke.
Is local comedy making a comeback?
I think it hasn’t really left. Now that there’s access to cameras and you can post things online immediately, local comedians have a way to get their ideas out there. So yes, we’re getting more active and we’re seeing a new wave of writers coming through.
There’s a lot of comedy stuff that happens that maybe people don’t know of. 808 Viral just started, they’re kind of a local version of BuzzFeed. “Almost Local” is a comedy show on OC16 that Fern Pacheco has been doing for two seasons. There’s Da Bruddahs, Frank De Lima still does stuff, every now and then there’s a live sketch comedy show that pops up. Everyone’s doing things but we notice it more now because of Instagram and YouTube.
Improvehi does at least one open mike comedy show a year, so if people want to put up work in front of an audience, it’s a great time to test laughs. When you’re talking about comedy, you have to put it up in front of an audience. Does a joke land? Maybe people don’t understand it that much? It’s a chance for comics to get on their feet.
(Here’s an original sketch from last year’s festival.)
Who are the biggest local comedians today?
There’s a good mix of people who have been around a long time and up-and-comers.
The biggest are the new wave of people doing underground stuff—improv shows or open mikes or sketch comedy every month. It’s these people who are testing themselves with new things and recognizing that putting stuff online is the way to go now because you reach a larger audience.
The number one comedian when I think about local comedy is Rap Reiplinger. For me it’s crazy to think there are comedians in Hawaii today who don’t know who Rap is.
Which leads us to Balmilero’s top audience must-sees at the upcoming comedy fest:
Rap’s back. Thanks to Mountain Apple Company, the festival’s all-local “Two Scoops Funny” show opens with a classic Rap Reiplinger video on the big screen. “He’s the godfather,” Balmilero says. “If you watch ‘Rap’s Hawaii,’ only the quality of video tells you it was done a long time ago. Everything else is so on point—the costuming is great, the writing, the acting. He was so ahead of his time.”
White kids. Sam Brown, founding member of IFC’s popular sketch comedy TV show “The Whitest Kids U Know,” heads the opening-night lineup and will be teaching workshops to budding comedic performers over the weekend.
Creepy balloons. Local personality Fernando Pacheco—of OC16’s “Almost Local,” Star 101.9 FM, Fernando’s Walk of Shame podcast—shares a personal traumatic (and funny, of course) life story at “Two Scoops Funny.” Warning: We did say creepy. Pacheco’s sketch is totally inspired by his stand-up comedy.
Steenky stuff. Los Angeles-based comedy duo STEENK deals with real-life issues in front of a live audience. If you like fusion French-Italian-Chinese restaurants, you’ll love their funny restaurant bit.
Ladies look like a dude. Local comedy troupe Improvhi tries gender-swapping. Who doesn’t love chicks with …
Speaking of which: Golden Globe winner and creator/star of the CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” Rachel Bloom shares an oldie-but-goodie video expressing the feelings of anyone who has ever had their heart broken. Although she won’t physically be at the festival, this will be Bloom’s second time sharing an original comedy piece. Music and, um, the male anatomy! What a combo!
The Hawaii Sketch Comedy Festival
March 31 & April 1
Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre
Live music by Simple Souls, Erika Elona, Chris Lind
More info at www.hisketchfest.com
March 31 opening reception features a no-host bar and food for purchase by Da Spot