Have you been to a Sketch Comedy Festival before? Well, you are in luck. On March 28 – 29 the first Hawaii Sketch Comedy Festival will be staged at the Doris Duke Theatre in what is billed as “it’s like Saturday Night Live in Hawaii”. To tell us more, we talked with the director of HiSketch, Kimee Balmilero.

Why did you decide to create Hawaii Sketch Comedy Festival?

Doing a sketch comedy festival here in Hawaii is something that I’ve thought about for years now. I had studied sketch comedy and was performing with a team in Los Angeles and wanted to continue doing something when I moved back home to Hawaii. When we started doing “The Scratch Paper Sketch Comedy Show” through improvhi, that’s when I saw that there was a definite want for something like this. I kept thinking about it, but wasn’t ready to commit. I bit the bullet in October 2014 after being involved with Improvaganza (The Hawaii Festival of Improv) again and haven’t looked back since. I’m already thinking about next year!

When did you become involved in doing sketch comedy shows?

I lived in Los Angeles for over 7 years and studied improv and sketch comedy at The Upright Citizens Brigade in Hollywood. I was then asked to join an outside indie team called, “Drug Puppy.” It was me and a bunch of really funny dudes. We started doing improv, but a bunch of the guys were writers, so they naturally started writing stuff. We did the sketch cage match at iO West in Hollywood one night and won! From there, we went on to do a regular show at iO West twice a month on the main stage. It was super fun! I learned a lot from those guys and still contact them every now and then for advice.

Where is that special place you go to that offers you good sketch comedy inspiration?

Anywhere! Life is hilarious! You don’t really have to “look” for the funny. It’s usually right there in front of you! Ideas usually come up in random conversations while joking around with friends. Everyone’s laughing and then all of sudden someone says, “That would be a good sketch…”

What is going to be the most amazing thing about about this year’s event?

Everything’s gonna be AMAZING! We have some pretty kick booty instructors and performers coming in from Los Angeles and New York. We also have a dedicated local “start up” team that has been working with a professional writer for the past month. I’m especially excited about our workshops though. We bring master teachers in for improvhi all the time, but it’s been a while since we’ve had people from Upright Citizens Brigade. UCB is such a great school and has a very specific way of doing improv and sketch comedy. A way that I find very smart and attractive. It’s rare that we’ll see this many UCB instructors in one place in Hawaii. I’m excited for people to try these classes out! We’re even offering class passes where workshops are as low as $25 a pop! You won’t be able to get that deal anywhere else!

Who should go and see this?

Anybody! I keep telling people that it’s like “Saturday Night Live” in Hawaii. We’ve got a very diverse group of performers coming who will for sure make you “LOL” your pants! And if you don’t like comedy (which is weird,) then we have Broadway veteran and powerhouse vocalist Shoshana Bean as a musical guest. Trust me…you’ll walk out of the theater thinking, “Dang! That was a GOOD SHOW!”

How excited are you at this being the very first sketch comedy festival?

I’m very excited and very nervous. This is such a dream of mine and to see it come together is CAH-RAZY! I’m super thankful for all the support that I’ve been getting from the community, my personal network and of course StoryU Arts and The BizGym Foundation. Being given the opportunity to do this dream project AND raise money for a local non-profit is more than I could ever ask for. Which reminds me: COME SUPPORT OUR FESTIVAL! IT’S A TAX WRITE OFF Y’ALL!

Thank you.

To learn more, please visit Hawaii Sketch Comedy Festival. To purchase your tickets, please visit Doris Duke Theatre.