Comedy has been king (and queen) for the last two weeks at the Kahilu. JP Sears and Pauly Shore both had sold-out performances during the venue’s post-holiday downtime while it reboots for the second half of its 2019/2020 season. Thanks are due to promoter Matt Laundrie who’s been bringing the Big Island a bevy of mainland entertainment lately while making sure local acts are included on the bill. Kona’s top female comedian Justine Smith, who opened for Sears a week ago, did the same for Shore’s Sunday show. She now holds the title of appearing at the venue more times than either comedian – Hail Queen Justine!
Comedy, as in music, has loyal fans who come out to hear the “greatest hits” performed. In Shore’s case, his more than a quarter-century-old catchphrase (“hey bud-dy!”) and character (the Weasel) are still on every former MTV viewer’s playlist. Shore transitioned into films in the early ‘90s, but that career faded after Bio-Dome bombed at the box office in ‘96. Now he mostly tours his stand-up comedy act across the country.
Shore’s routine is the opposite of JP Sears poking fun at yoga and organic food. In his 60-minute set at the Kahilu, Shore’s main topics were weed, women, and kinky sex along with some questionable jokes about minorities. Basically, it’s haole humor for aging hipsters.
“What’s up Kona!,” Shore shouted as he strutted on stage to an enthusiastic crowd of fans mostly in their 30’s and 40’s. The audience tried to correct him that he wasn’t in Kona. He didn’t catch on until later in the show when the crowd yelled out, “WAIMEA!” Shore joked, “I’m lucky if I can say I’m in Hawaii, dude.”
Shore, now 51, took swipes at himself, noting there’s a whole generation who doesn’t know the “genius” of Pauly Shore – “I’m the guy who made MTV, not the guy who fucked it up,” he proudly declared. He admitted he was surprised when a 16-year-old Starbucks clerk didn’t recognize him even though he did a routine for her. “I now look like Richard Simmons meets Billy Crystal… just a broken-down piece of weeze, bro,” Shore joked. His cheesy tourist “ALOHA” baseball cap and baggy pants that he kept pulling up completed the image.
For the most part, the crowd loved his raunchy, slacker humor, but there were several awkward Don Rickles-like moments where casual racism got tossed out as punchlines. Stumbling over Hawaiian words he couldn’t pronounce, Shore said, “I can’t fucking speak like you fuckin’ pidgin people out here, dude.” The comedian also seemed obsessed with touching a young man’s Afro who was seated in the front row. After doing it several times in the first part of his act, making him stand up, say his name, he eventually invited him on stage where the poor guy sat quietly on a stool while Shore continued a bit and occasionally high-fived him when the crowd laughed. As he returned to his seat, Shore referred to him as “my little son” adding, “I like your Afro, you’re cool, dude.” Shore later announced he wanted to do a joke about Asians but declined because there were too many at the show.
In an interview I did with Shore about a week ago, he explained how he successfully works a crowd. “Being a stand-up comedian is kind of like being a lion tamer, and the audience is like a whole bunch of lions,” Shore said. “You gotta organize them and make sure you don’t say anything that’s going to piss them off. It’s my job to go on stage and organize the crowd and make sure they laugh and leave forgetting about anything in their life that they might want to forget about. I’m like a doctor of comedy.”
Shore did an audience participation bit of where he invited women on stage who responded to his question, who wants to have his baby? Six women and three men lined up for the impromptu skit. Acting like a game show host, Shore went down the line eliminating the ones that didn’t meet his criteria. No one was picked.
Shore wrapped up his set to a standing ovation, and a few fans came up to give him gifts including buds from local pot. He later met his followers in the lobby for selfies and sign merch.
Besides his podcasts, and self-produced documentaries, Shore has appeared in a few minor films lately. Last year he was featured in the animated picture The Big Trip, where he played a talking bear, and this year it’s a summer comedy called Guest House where a newly engaged couple discovers a squatter (Shore as Randy Cockfield) living in a guest house in the home of their dreams.
Steve Roby is an entertainment journalist, an L.A. Times bestselling author, and a Big Island filmmaker. He’s been featured in The NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steve Roby