What kind of kid were you?
I was your typical class clown from a poor family. I surfed a lot probably too much. I dropped out of school in the 11th grade but I ripped.
What was it like growing up in Hawaii?
You never realize how beautiful Hawaii is until you leave and finally understand why the tourists take pictures of everything. I've always felt very lucky to be born an American and to grow up in Hawaii. Luck of the draw and I scored BIGTIME!
How was your high school experience at Waianae?
I didn't go to school much. My father kicked me out of the house when I was 15 and I had to get a job so unfortunately school took a back seat to earning money to buy food and pay the rent.
When and how did you decide that you wanted to be a comedian?
I didn't have any education but I could talk up a storm so I went into sales. I bounced around and sold different things and everywhere I worked everyone always told me I should be a comedian. So I put some jokes together and entered an amateur contest. I died. But I'm the type who hates to fail so I kept at it. Eventually I quit my sales job, starved for a year and then began getting small jobs that grew as I did.
Did your family support your decisions to become a comedian?
I didn't ask them and it wouldn't have mattered.
What was the driving force that made you never give up no matter how tough times would get?
Growing up poor taught me how to do without so that part wasn't so hard and I've always been the type to turn rejection into fuel for the fire. I believe that everyone was born to do something and only a lucky few figure out what it is. I'm a born comic, which is not to say I'm always funny. Sometimes I'm a born comic who isn't funny at all.
When you finally made it as Hawaii's first stand-up comic, how did you feel?
I called myself "Hawaii's first stand-up comic" early in my career so people wouldn't expect me to bust out a ukulele and sing funny songs. I never meant to say I was "Number 1" only that I was the first one in Hawaii to do "Pure" stand-up. Getting my first real club, Kojacks, is when I felt like I just might be able to make a living at this.
Were you the first of your siblings to become involved in show business?
How did your brother Ray become involved in the same line of work as you?
He always played guitar and wrote songs. Ray started as a singer/songwriter and got into comedy and acting later. He's a very talented guy and works very hard at everything he does.
Do you have a preference between stand-up comedy and acting on film?
The big difference is that I can do stand-up any time I want. I go years without acting. Stand-up is an "all by yourself" thing. If you die doing stand-up you burn by yourself. If you screw up while acting you affect MANY other people. To me acting is more pressure. I'm more comfortable on a stage doing stand-up than I am in my own life.
Who did you get to work with when you did stand-up?
The Beach Boys, Tom Jones, Kenny Loggins, Charlie Daniels, Paul Anka, Lionel Richie. The real fun was working the Improv and Comedy Store with other comics because I honed my craft in a stand-up comedy vacuum.
Were there any hilarious mishaps doing stand-up?
I don't know about hilarious but the big mistake many people make is thinking you can put a comic anywhere and the comic will be funny. I was hired to do a gig at a carnival and they put me in front of the Ferris wheel. So during my whole act people are screaming and throwing up behind me. The throwing up I'm used to but I found the screaming to be very distracting. Another common misconception is that stand-up comedy is good background entertainment while people are eating. It's also a very good idea to make some effort to insure the audience speaks the same language as the comic. Some tour outfit once filled a club I was working with Japanese tourists. The strange thing is they were so polite they just sat there and smiled. I didn't find out until after the show that they didn't speak a word of English.
What was your worst stand-up experience and how did you overcome it?
There was a really violent drunk guy who was ruining the show and I was pretty sure he would jump on stage at some point and attack me. So I got the audience to help me grab him and throw him out the side door.
When did you finally get your "big break"?
Opening for Beamer Brothers in a Waikiki Showroom. Big room, big money. Looking back on it now I should have stayed in the dump I was working, my act was better and it was more fun. I since learned not to make decisions based solely on money.
Who were your biggest influences as far as comedians go?
Lenny Bruce, Mort Saul, Early Red Foxx, Bill Cosby
In "All in the Ohana," you play an entire family long before Eddie Murphy ever did in "The Nutty Professor." What was that like for you?
I was so clueless at the time I didn't know it was hard. It was long hours and turned out pretty good. Larry Fleece was the engine behind the scenes. He kept me on track. That's the best part of acting, whole herds of people come together and produce something and the actor gets all the credit.
What was your role on the episode of "The Jeffersons" you guest appeared in?
The Jeffersons people saw All in the Ohana and changed their script to a "We're going to lose the land we grew up on" theme too. I played the guy who hipped George Jefferson about the situation.
What has been your most challenging role thus far?
Are you married? Do you have kids?
Yes. Two kids. 12 and 10. Boy and a girl.
Have you ever had an acting coach? If so, when?
I studied at Tony Barr's film acting workshop when I was in L.A. I made it to the advanced class and then moved back to Hawaii. I don't take any classes now though I probably should.
How did you get the part of "Big Kahuna" on Raven?
I read for it. And the producers knew me.
What was it like for you on the set of Raven?
I only did the bar scenes so it was always beautiful women in bikinis and sunshine. Real tough. The hard part was doing lines with Jeffery and Lee because they are so good. I always felt like a hack. But then again that's standard insecure actor stuff.
Did you bond with Raven's stars Jeffrey Meek and Lee Majors?
Lee and I never saw each other off the set. You have to remember I was doing my first real series and he is a "been there done that" veteran. So it's not like we had a lot in common. I liked him and he's a real pro. Jeffrey and I had more in common including a love for riding motorcycles. Jeffrey is such a class act that I'm not going to flatter myself and say that we went on to be great friends because Jeffrey treats everyone with honesty and compassion so it's easy to call him a friend. We have kept in touch and I mean it when I say that he is one person I would love to see become a mega-star because he's got the chops and is truly a great guy.
Do you identify at all with the character you portray in Raven?
I always try to bring as much of me to a character as I can get away with because it easier than acting. So, yes, I identified with B.K.
Did you develop your own role as B.K.?
I didn't develop anything. I was just trying to keep my head above water.
Did you ever come up with your own ideas or dialogue at any point on the set?
Very few. The writing was pretty good.
Were there any specific incidents on the set of Raven that you clearly remember?
I do remember one time I was goofing around behind the bar in between takes. Well, I was so involved in pretending to be a blind bartender that Lee loudly remarked that things might go smoother if I would pay attention more. The whole set went dead silent. And I turned to Lee and said, "I'm sorry, were you talking to me?" which cracked up the set again. I remember it because Jeffrey said, "That's the way to fight back." If Jeffrey didn't say that I think I would have been in hot water.
What was the most outrageous thing that either of your co-stars did (or you) on the set of Raven?
There was a very late shoot in a VERY well-to-do neighborhood and Lee thought it would be a good idea for his character to be firing two 45s as he busted the bad guys on the beach. Right around take 3 the cops showed up.
What did you do on the set of Raven when you had down time?
Talk to the crew or extras. I liked talking to the people who have done a million shows because after a while they always end up making some off handed remark that blows your mind. Like "Brian Keith always wore his own clothes in his series. It was in his contract that he could wear his own clothes". Amazing.
What do you think was one of the funniest mishaps on the set of Raven?
We got canceled.
Where was the set of "Big Kahuna's" place actually filmed? Was it all constructed exclusively for Raven, or did it already exist?
It existed. It was a little bar next to the Ilikai hotel.
Your older brother Ray appeared in two episodes of Raven. How was it like being on the same set together?
We didn't have any scenes together. Bummer.
Have you ever done any acting with your older brother Ray besides on
Yes, and it's always fun.
There were more than a few episodes in Raven where you do some serious acting rather than just being the comic relief. Have you ever done, or considered to do a serious role?
I've played serious roles and I really like it better than funny roles because I get to be funny all the time. Serious is harder and takes concentration something I don't get to do much.
Were there any plans to expand your role as B.K. in Raven?
Maybe, we'll never know. If it were my money I'd have kept the camera on Jeffery.
How and when did you hear of Raven's cancellation? How did you feel?
I don't remember when I heard. I do remember thinking that it was a real shame because Jeffery worked so hard at it.
If the offer ever came around again to do "Raven," would you consider it?
Of course, but realistically, that sort of thing never happens.
What would you say your favorite project has been thus far?
Marker, because I got to surf and be in the ocean all day.
What advice can you give for aspiring comedians?
Work clean and don't tell a joke about any certain group of people unless you can tell the joke with a room full of that group.
Are you still doing comedy?
Yes, and it's more fun than ever because I'm taking myself less seriously these days.
What are your plans/goals for the future?
On the family side my goal is to be with my wife forever and to always be friends with my kids. On the business side I have 3 cell phone stores called Wireless Paradise that are about 3 years old that I would like to see grow. I'm one of the few people that has an entertainment gig to fall back on just in case my regular job doesn't pan out. And I'll always do stand up because it's way cheaper than therapy.