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MAUI BEAT: The laugh contender

On the radio airwaves or live on stage, boxer-turned-funnyman Augie T. has a great Hawaiian punch

August 28, 2008
By JON WOODHOUSE, Contributing Writer

A former professional boxer, comedian Augie T. still feels like he's entering the ring when he begins a concert these days.

"When I'm approaching the stage I always feel like I'm back in a fight, because you don't know what's going to happen, you could get hit, you might get knocked out, or you might win. You're naked by yourself on stage. The worst that could happen is total silence."

Which is pretty unlikely considering he's attained the rank of one of Hawaii's most successful and popular comics, the only local comedian in fact to sell out the Blaisdell Arena and the Hawaii Theatre.

Article Photos


Photo courtesy Maui Arts & Cultural Center

A two-time Hoku winner, Augie Tulba is a staple on the local comedy scene, routinely selling out concerts across the state, often popping up on cable TV, the humorous voice of a number of commercials, and the host of a top-rated, pan-island morning radio show.

Through the miracle of modern technology, five mornings a week, Augie sits in his Oahu home and as the first local commercial radio personality to be heard statewide, he beams out his "Augie Show" to listeners on Maui (on Q103), Molokai (KMKK - 102.3 FM), Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.

"I'm a lucky guy," he agrees. "Maui gave me the start to start working from home, so I owe it all to the KAOI Radio Group on Maui. The morning slot opened and it all came together, and the rest of the islands started catching on, and believe or not, Oahu was the last one. It just goes to show that Maui's way ahead."

Just like rocker Alice Cooper who was recently profiled in this column, Augie employs the latest computer technology to broadcast his radio show remotely from wherever he's located.

"We just a did a show at the Maui Beach Hotel and two months ago we did it from Saipan and Guam," he continues. "We can do it anywhere from the road, it's the same technology that Alice Cooper and a lot of guys use."

One of the astounding aspects of this technological innovation is that Augie can create the same show for stations with different musical formats. While we might be listening to Ekolu or Steel Pulse on Maui's Q103, at the same time audiences on Molokai may be hearing Gabby or the Caz.

"That's why it's a challenge for me," he notes. "On Maui, it's island reggae and then you go to Hilo and it's more adult contemporary, and then you turn the station to Molokai and it's strictly Hawaiian, and on Oahu it's Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. My comedy is geared to local people and I've been able to reach all age demographics.

"Two people help me prepare, Haole Girl, who is my sidekick, the voice of reason, and she does a lot of the women topics, and Timmy (Mattos) is a schoolteacher, so he has a lot to say. I don't do too much news because people can hear how bad the world is everywhere. I use my time on radio to be fun and give people something different."

So was he a funny kid?

"That's what my mom and dad say," he reports. "I wanted to be a professional boxer and then in 7th grade I wanted to be school counselor because I enjoyed my school counselor, and then in 9th grade I almost flunked and my English teacher challenged me to do a speech contest. And that changed my whole perspective on getting in front of an audience. It was kind of cool."

Augie's upcoming Maui show, just like his recent Hawaii Theater concert, will help raise funds for his Speak the Dream Foundation, which provides scholarships to high school graduates needing assistance in pursuing college education.

"Comedy is great, you go on stage and you get a nice high, and at the end of the night the best you get is, 'What you did really helped me because I had a rough week,' " he says. "That's cool, but what can I do to make definite impact? Giving back to an individual is an awesome thing, to use this comedy in the right way. I can't play golf and do golf tournaments, and I hate doing walks. So I like to do one or two or three shows a year to raise money so I can give something back to some students who deserve to go to college. I never had the chance, and I grew up dyslexic. It's my way of giving back and maybe one of these kids will do some great things for Maui or one of the islands."

* Augie T. performs at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Willie K will open. Tickets are $15, $20 and $25, plus applicable fees, available by visiting or calling the MACC box office at 242-7469, or online at


Jazz fans can look forward to hearing some hot music Saturday evening at Caf Marc Aurel in Wailuku. This last presentation in a week of jazz events features the Joe Caro Band, a trio showcasing the former New York-based session guitarist, acclaimed keyboardist Larry Goldings and Maui drummer Mike Buono.

Caro's extensive credits include working with Aretha Franklin, the Eagles, Bon Jovi, Carly Simon, Bette Middler and on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Last summer he joined a group of world-class instrumentalists, including multi Grammy-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker and Peter Gabriel bassist Tony Levin at the brilliant "A New York Minute" concert in the Castle Theater.

Currently touring with James Taylor, Goldings is a versatile keyboardist who has also worked with artists like Michael Brecker, Jon Hendricks, Pat Metheny, Nora Jones, India.Arie and Walter Becker on his recent "Circus Money."

Among his own recordings, Goldings' live "Trio Beyond" with John Scofield and Jack DeJohnette earned a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2007. Most recently, he backed James Taylor on his Emmy-nominated "One Man Band" show that aired on PBS.

"Larry Goldings is in, "that elite and small group of great piano players," noted Pat Metheny.

* Show at 7:30 p.m. with no cover charge. Call 244-0852 for more info.

Tracking sales of downloaded tunes, most of course are recent hits. Only 10 of the top 200 paid downloads are songs from the 20th century. Of these it's Journey, Queen and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the top three, and our Iz with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World," at No. 4.

Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics) has just released a powerful, moving video on YouTube of "American Prayer," a song he co-composed with U2's Bono. With a supporting cast including actor Forest Whitaker, Macy Gray, Whoopi Goldberg, Joss Stone, reggae singer Buju Banton, Barry Manilow, Cyndi Lauper, Herbie Hancock and Joan Baez, the video has been released in support of Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

The song, which is included on the just-released "Dave Stewart Songbook" double CD, features a brief extract of Martin Luther King's stirring "mountain" speech.

Bono and Stewart wrote the song (initially with Joe Strummer of the Clash) back in 2002. It was performed by the duo with Beyonce at the amazing tribute concert to Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 2003, captured in the DVD/CD "46664." (The clip is also on YouTube). This extraordinary event also featured Peter Gabriel performing "Biko" for the first time in South Africa, and Bono, The Edge, and Dave Stewart teaming with Queen for "Amandla."

* Contact Jon Woodhouse at jonwoodh@hawai



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