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Committed to comedy

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On his Twitter account, stand-up comic Paul Ogata has been asking fellow tweeters for "weird words" to use in his show tonight at Pipeline Cafe.

As of Tuesday he had two suggestions – fanboy and a–flap (is that a word?).

While the second one might be a bit of a stretch, Ogata should nevertheless rise to the challenge as he returns to his Hawaii roots after being away for a year and a half.

Besides the Pipeline gig, Ogata will also be part of the "Comics on Duty" bill for military personnel stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Force Base, the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, and Schofield Barracks.

Speaking by phone from his San Diego home last week, Ogata said he’ll also be a Comic on Duty overseas.

"I’ll be making my first trip to the Middle East in August, specifically an Air Force base in Qatar," he said. "Even though there’s no fighting going on there, militant Islamic guys have been identified as coming from there. Still, I’m glad it’s not a hot zone."

Compared with doing his usual "civilian" shows, Ogata said, "My goal is a little bit different when performing for the troops, especially overseas. At domestic shows in clubs, I may criticize our government or talk about terrorism. In front of the troops, I have to find some other ways to make them laugh."

Regardless, Ogata is committed to his livelihood.

PAUL OGATA WITH OPENERS CATHY TANAKA AND KENTO

Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.

When: 8 p.m. today

Cost: $20 general, $40 VIP priority seating

Info: 877-714-7668 or www.pipelinecafehawaii.com

Also: 9 p.m. tomorrow at Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill in Kailua-Kona, $15, call 329-4368

 

"I remember 20 years ago, the first time I did stand-up at UH, it was great. My next gig at a comedy club, I did horribly. When things became difficult, I was complaining, ‘THIS IS HARD!’ I even quit a couple of times. But comedy keeps calling to you. It’s like what Michael Corleone said in the third ‘Godfather’ movie. ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.’ I think I wasn’t really serious about stand-up until 12 years ago, and now I’m really focused in getting better at it."

Ogata has Andy Bumatai to thank in getting through those tough earlier years, particularly when the two worked in Waikiki 15 years ago at the Polynesian Palace on Lewers Street. "Andy brought me under his wing back then, and that’s where he taught me the art of it," he said. "Yeah, I went to the Mount Rushmore of Hawaii comedy: Andy, Rap (Reiplinger) and Mel (Cabang)."

Ogata still considers Hawaii as his rock. "It’s my foundation in so many ways. That’s where my family is, where I grew up, where I was born as a comedian and I turned around my sensibility."

EVEN THOUGH Ogata still keeps his Los Angeles business ties, "just to keep my foot in the pool," he actively pursues stand-up work around the country and even around the world, where he seems to have found a special connection with the audiences in Hong Kong.

In fact, he recently released a DVD of one of his gigs there, at the TakeOut Comedy Club.

"It’s a very special place for me," he said. "It’s a former British colony and the financial capital of China, so there’s an international mix of people in my audience. And they all get my American brand of comedy. I’ve done my best shows there, so much so that once I was able to do an hour without having to fall back on any of my set material there.

"Compared to Hawaii, the Hong Kong audiences are willing to participate in a back-and-forth. Back home it’s a different vibe, like ‘I no like sit up front.’ But I don’t pick on people. I always try to find something to celebrate while onstage and do comedy that’s positive."

Ogata is ready to spring some new observations on tonight’s crowd. "A lot of things have gone on since I was last there. Things like the financial crisis and the oil spill, I’ll address a lot of that."

As far as wider exposure, he’s developing a TV show with a production company with connections to Bravo network. "It’s a reality show with comedic elements where I’m the instigator."

Plus there’s his fledgling career in porn. Not really. He did some voice-over work for the direct-to-video spoof "Porndogs: The Adventures of Sadie."

"A friend of mine was genuinely concerned that he thought I was actually doing porn. The movie’s basically about talking dogs that hump. It’s your coming-of-age tale as Sadie experiences several dogs. I’m her first dog, Master Dong (cue rim shot here). You’ll see how it all plays out on screen.

"Coincidentally, it was the legendary Marilyn Chambers’ final movie, as she does the voice of the main dog. So when people ask me what the movie’s about, I tell them it’s a cross between ‘Behind the Green Door’ and ‘Marley & Me.’"

 

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