Comedy is a funny business. It is also a very serious business. One serious comedian who has been at the forefront of developing the local comedy scene here is James Mane. And things have been getting very seriously busy for him. The Maui Comedy Festival made its debut this week and James will be there to show off his good looks and tell a few tales on Nov 1, 2014. This lad has some chops and our Fringe community got to see him at our 2011 Fringe Bites. Since then, he has helped to foster an awareness of comedy in Hawai’i.
How serious are you about comedy?
I am quite serious about comedy. It isn’t so much as something that I like to do but something that I feel like I have to do. It’s not something that I do but something that is a part of my life. A lifestyle.
You are part of a group of comedians who are elevating the comedy scene here. How are things going with regards to promoting comedy?
We are trying to develop a comedy scene that is similar to the type that you might find in Los Angeles or New York. However, it is difficult because the talent pool to draw from is really shallow right now. We are building it up and finding more people wanting to do it every so often. But, it takes time to develop an act, a joke, or an on stage persona. Another problem we face is comics moving to the mainland and doing comedy up there, leaving holes in our scene that we, collectively, are trying to build up. I don’t plan on moving to the mainland and I am in this for the long haul in trying to build the stand-up comedy scene here in Hawai’i.
I do recall a certain chance meeting with you, at a food diner, where you shared some thoughts about writing some material. Was this the beginning of your journey into show business?
I’ve always liked making people laugh and never thought about doing it professionally. Whether its with my writing, my acting a fool, or me sharing a funny thought. I got into stand-up comedy because I enjoy entertaining people. I kinda fell into it, I guess.
And now you will join a fantastic line up of comedians at Maui Comedy Festival. What does this opportunity mean to you and for the scene here in Hawai’i?
I feel a lot of pressure on doing well at the Maui Comedy Festival. I am the only comedian in the festival that is from O’ahu as well as the only full Polynesian. If I do well it could give some validation to what we are building in Honolulu; saying that the comedians in the scene that I am part of are funny and worthy of being in a festival like this. Also, being one of few Samoan stand-up comedians – it could help shed the light on Samoan comedians as well.
You have shared the stage with a bunch of great comedians. Can you please share your thoughts on the comedians that came before you and your colleagues, who ushered in this opportunity to give comedy a platform here?
There have been many comedians that have done comedy here in Hawai’i way before I started. Guys like Andy Bumatai, Kermet Apio, Paul Ogata, Augie T, and Kaleo Pilanca. They have each helped me directly and indirectly. First of all they paved the way and inspired myself and others in our scene to try and do stand-up. Andy Bumatai has helped me develop as a performer and gave me tons of advice. Apio, Ogata, and Augie have given me opportunities and have vouched for me in many ways that helped me book gigs and gave me credibility. Pilanca has helped me develop in front of large audiences at his shows and taught me to be humble, love everyone, and enjoy the journey.
How have you managed to financially sustain yourself as a comedian here?
Unfortunately, the scene is too small to make a living as a club or bar venue comedian. The more following you gain the more money you can make because, one, you sell more tickets and, two, sponsors will pay you to advertise at your shows or on your website or social media.
Who else is doing good things here to promote comedy?
On O’ahu I work with Chad Wago in promoting Mars Comedy Club every Wednesday at Hawaiian Brian’s. Our goal is to help develop new stand-up comedians. We encourage new people to come and talk with us and we will teach them how to write, perform, as well as promote themselves. We also help them star in their own shows as well as team them up with mainland performers when they come down. This will help them develop and network. There are other promoters such as Shane Lucas Price who will be bringing down mainland comedians. Other promoters are Jose Dynamite, Patrick Tyrrell, Erika Schwartzkopf, Brandi Morgan, and Aaron Pughes.
In your humble opinion – are people in Hawai’i funny?
The people in Hawai’i are very funny. We have a unique point of view because we have a true melting pot where races here mix. Unlike in major cities in the mainland where races usually stay with their own kind. Here in Hawai’i we have to be funny to many types of people because not only are the people here mixed races but they are from all over the world. One show that I was in there were people from Wai’anae, people from Japan, people from New York City, and people from Australia. The comics in Honolulu’s Underground Comedy scene has to be funny to all of them at the same time.
Will your good looks make the audience swoon with laughter or die laughing at Maui Comedy Festival?
Hahaha!! If I tell them that I am good looking they will surely laugh. In comedy, it’s about what you say, how you say it, and what you’re talking about. Unique looks can help add to your comedy but it shouldn’t be your whole act. At the Maui Comedy Festival I will be pointing out the obvious which is that I am a giant man living in an average sized world.
OK, give us your best knock knock joke…
Ha!! I might lose respect for doing a knock knock joke. I actually don’t have one or a BEST one. I will tell you a story though about my daughter who tries to do knock knock jokes with me. It usually goes like this:
DAUGHTER: Knock Knock.
ME: Who’s there?
ME: Hi Banana come on in.
She gets frustrated and then she asks again because she wants to get her joke in.
DAUGHTER: Knock knock.
ME: (I walk away and tell her nobody’s home.)
O’ahu Fringe Festival wishes James Mane a safe trip to Maui, and a successful debut at the Maui Comedy Festival. To purchase tickets to his show, please click here. To learn more about James, please visit his profile.