Five years ago, a regular stand-up comedy scene did not exist on Maui, but thanks to a handful of young up-and-coming comics that is rapidly changing. Although Maui still does not have its own comedy club, several bars and theaters are now incorporating live comedy into their event schedules. The catalyst of this was a combination of the Comedy Hui (led by Amanda Taulere) and performer/producer Brian Evans' Maui Celebrity Series. Since that time, the list of great comics who have come to perform on Maui (and provide opening-act slots for local comics) are Jim Gaffigan, Rob Schneider, Tom Green, Roseanne Barr, David Spade, Wanda Sykes, George Lopez, Kathy Griffin, Gabriel Iglesias and coming up on Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater, Bill Maher.
A comedy groundbreaker, first on "Politically Incorrect" and for the past nine years on HBO's "Real Time," Maher's combination of honesty and cutting- edge humor has garnered him 27 Emmy Award nominations. Maher started his career as a stand-up comedian in 1979, and still performs at least 50 dates a year at sold-out theaters across the country. His Maui performance has been sold out for weeks, but you never know if a couple of seats might show up.
* To inquire about last-minute availability, visit the MACC box office, www.mauiarts. org or call 242-7469. Tickets are $45.50, $65.50, $85.50, plus applicable fees.
“It’s definitely an audience participation show… not for the faint of heart. If you’re shy, you might want to steer clear of the front rows.”
— Steve-O Stand-up comic and “Jackass” star
Kihei's Stella Blues has become a popular spot for live comedy and on Tuesday, it continues its weekly open- mic comedy night, hosted by Power Up Comedy. The regular Power Up comics include Chino La Forge, Corky, Teresa Sickels, Doug Wyckoff, Jose Solorzano and Dr. Titanium, but if you have ever wanted to try your hand at stand-up, this is the time. Sign-up for comics starts at 8:30 p.m. with 15 3-to-5-minute spots available every Tuesday night at Stella Blues Cafe. However, if you just prefer to watch, the show starts at 9 p.m. and there is no cover charge.
Power Up Comedy is also producing a comedy hypnosis show featuring Don Barnhart, regular Las Vegas performer recently heralded by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Howard Stern. The Power Up Comedy All-Stars will open the show at Stella Blues on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door. For more information about comedy nights at Stella Blues call 874-3779.
And then there's a whole other kind of comedy, and truthfully, it is just as traditional as a pratfall or a pie in the face, but with a 21st-century twist. Get ready, Maui, because on Saturday Jan. 21, Steve-O of "Jackass" fame is coming to Ocean's Beach Bar and Grill for evening of stand-up comedy and daring stunts. "Steve-O's Entirely Too Much Information Tour" will feature what he describes as "daring stunts" and "painfully funny embarrassing stories."
I recently spoke with the controversial performer and asked him what the Maui audience can expect from his one- man show.
"It's definitely an audience participation show not for the faint of heart. If you're shy, you might want to steer clear of the front rows."
I asked Steve-O how he transitioned from "Jackass" to stand-up comedy.
"It has been an uphill battle for the past five years, I wouldn't waste people's time if my act wasn't true, entertaining and funny."
He explained that his act is a mix of the stunts people expect from him but mostly true-life experiences that he relates just like any other observational comic, "but I'm still bat $#*! crazy."
When I asked if he had any regrets or stunts he wished he hadn't attempted, Steve-O offered, "No. I have no permanent injuries and most of the worst stuff that ever happened to me actually advanced my career. I want to remain faithful to the ("Jackass") brand. The fans expect that."
The stand-up portion of his show will feature much of the true-life experiences documented in his new book, "Professional Idiot: A Memoir." Steve-O has a great love for his fans and makes a personal promise at all appearances to "stay to the bitter end" for any and all autograph and photo requests. "These are the people that made my career and if they want to do a meet-and-greet, what kind of person would I be not to honor every request?"
* Local comics Ed Ka'ahea and Chino La Forge join Steve-O in what is sure to be a memorable event. The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $35. Advance purchase is required, tickets available online at hightideconcerts.net or at Ocean's Beach Bar and Grill in Kihei, Westside Vibes in Lahaina and Bounty Music in Kahului.
Chino La Forge will also be hosting an Upcountry Power Up Comedy night in Makawao at Casanova on Thursday, Jan. 12. The show will feature the entire comedy troupe.
* The show is at 10 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door. All Maui nightclub comedy events are for adults 21 and older only, valid IDs are required at the door at Stella Blues, Ocean's and Casanova.
Also this weekend
Ring in the New Year at the north shore's hottest event, New Year's at Casanova. Origins Music and Tasty Pie Productions presents an evening of cabaret, music and dancing featuring Maui's fun and flirty Kit Kat Club Cabaret and music from gypsy soul band Nectar Collector and rock/blues band The Guilty P...leasures. DJ dance music by DJ SID, follows the performance into the new year, plus special visual projections by noted Maui art innovator Gabe Mott. The festivities begin at 9:30 p.m., but you'll want to arrive early because the annual event is always a sellout.
* Tickets are $20 at the door, including a champagne toast at midnight. For more information or to add dinner reservations, call 572-0220 or purchase tickets online at nye2012casanova.eventbrite. com.
"Ruthless! The Musical" by Joal Paley and Marvin Laird, reopens at the ProArts Playhouse Jan. 6 and runs weekends through Jan. 15.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Reserved seats for adults are $25; students 18 and younger are $20. Ask about the ProArts $20 Kama'aina Nights with valid Hawaii ID. For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com. "Ruthless! The Musical" contains mild adult content.