You think I meant to say "homeboy," huh? I know you're laughing and thinking I have my semi- politically-incorrect terms all mixed up. But listen. Latin King of Comedy, Paul Rodriguez, who's performing at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina Sunday, actually got his start in Honolulu. He flew out for a one-night gig, had a few too many mai tais, sold his return ticket (remember when you could sell your airline ticket?) and depended on the kindness of acquaintances - like Oahu's own Andy Bumatai and Frank De Lima. According to Rodriguez, Andy took pity on the broke, reckless comedian from L.A. and brought him onstage as his regular opening act.
"It's where my comedy career was born, man! I'm the golden boy! The prodigal son returns!" he gushed, when I spoke with him last week.
"Frank De Lima's a genius. He was way more avant-garde than Andy Kaufman," Rodriguez remembered, "and Don Ho. He was so laid back. I wish I could have done comedy like him."
He reminisced about the days when he'd hang out at the Hilton Hawaiian Village with Bumatai and the Makaha Sons, and explained how he deals with frequent, recurring hankerings for all things Hawaiian.
"Now if I get island fever, I can just drive to Vegas and hang out at the California Hotel. Everybody's speaking pidgin. They serve local food. It's like the poor man's Hawaii!"
But it's not quite the same. When Rodriguez's agent asked if he'd like to do a couple of shows in Hawaii, his first question was, "How much is it going to cost me?"
Paul Rodriguez performs at 9 p.m. Sunday, March 21at Maui Theatre in Lahaina. For tickets, call 661-9913 or log onto www.groovetickets.com.
"I'd pay to perform there!" he told me.
Hawaii is just one Rodriguez's stops on an extensive national tour which coincides with the release of his latest DVD, "Comedy Rehab." The DVD, which launched as a Comedy Central special last year, features three new comics Rodriguez hand-picked to become the next generation of "Latin Kings"- Gene Pompa, Shayla Rivera and Manny Maldonado.
Inspired by our own home-grown performers who helped him gain a foothold in the comedy world, Rodriguez is always looking for like-minded comics to share the stage with him. His first "Latin Kings of Comedy" show included George Lopez, Cheech Marin, Joey Medina and Alex Reymundo.
Don't expect Paul Rodriguez to offer his Maui audience a carefully-rehearsed, canned performance, featuring material from his new DVD. Every P-Rod show is completely unique. He comes up with a few general ideas the day of the show to flesh out on stage. The ideas can come from "funny things that happened on the way" or his observations of the town, city, or island where he's performing. It's all pretty improvisational.
"It's not like a rock show," he explained, "where the audience wants to hear your greatest hits. They don't want to hear the same old stuff besides, with the Alzheimer's, I couldn't remember my old material anyway."
Of course, he's joking about the Alzheimer's. He's a comedian. That's his job.
In the age of Instant-YouTube-Comedy-On-Demand, it's especially important for people who love to laugh to get out of the house, sit in a theater and see real, top-shelf comics like Paul Rodriguez perform live. There's no more immediate, symbiotic performing art than stand-up comedy. The comic feeds off of the audience's reaction to every joke, gesture and innuendo. I've always thought it must be the most terrifying feeling to walk out on the stage with only a mic and a glass of water and stare into a wall of expectant faces.
"I'm still scared every day," Rodriguez said, "but once I'm up there and I get a feeling from the audience, I know what to expect. There's no choice for me. I'm gonna make you laugh."
Don't miss MAPA's "The Secret Life of Girls" at the Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. The chillingly real play is based on interviews with girls on the giving and receiving end of bullying. It's a multimedia production, which highlights the recent rise of "cyberbullying." The sobering reality the play depicts can start a conversation in homes, schools and communities, opening the secrets and addressing the complexities dominating the lives of many young women. Counselors will be on hand for discussions with young audience members and their parents.
* The Maui Academy of Performing Arts' "The Secret Life of Girls" plays at Steppingstone Playhouse in the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and March 27; and at 2 p.m. Sunday and March 28. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and students, available through the MAPA box office at 244-8760, ext. 228 and at the customer service kiosk in Ka'ahumanu's center court.
Alexander Academy of Performing Arts will present a dazzling dance production of "The Wizard of Oz" at Maui Theatre in Lahaina at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 11. For tickets and information call 661-9913.
Beauvais Ballet, a nonprofit dance company on Maui, is looking for new members for its board of directors. The organization seeks to form a board that is energized, passionate, capable and driven by a vision to create a better community through dance, music and visual arts. For more information, call 572-3094, or email email@example.com.
Maui's own Skipper's School of Dance will participate in the 50th Anniversary Celebration at Lincoln Center in New York City this weekend.
Students Larissa Yee, Shaylee Yamashita, Jaelyn Domingo, Brynn Kubo, Jaccie and Lannie Hisashima will perform at the Alice Tully Hall on March 20 and participate in jazz and ballet workshops at the Broadway Dance Center. Congratulations, ladies!
For more information about Skipper Smith's dance classes at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, call 298-1101.