'The Portuguese people in Hawaii are like Polacks," says comedian Augie Tulba. "The Chinese are like Jewish people on the mainland. They buy everything under the sun -- hotels, buildings. They own a lot, but they're very stingy. I happen to be half Filipino and half Irish/Portuguese. I pick a lot on my relatives. I have a gay son in college -- I'm 39 and I had him when I was 16. It's part of the Filipino culture, making a lot of kids. Filipinos are like gremlins -- you turn off the lights, add water after 12 o'clock, and we multiply." Tulba, who uses the stage name "Augie T.," will perform at the Portuguese Hall
in Point Loma
on Sunday, September 30. Tulba's material is based on what he calls the real Hawaii. "Seven million visitors come to Hawaii every year," he says. "They only know the touristy side. When I performed in the Midwest, they asked me if I lived in a grass shack. We're, like, the 16th largest city in America! We have ghettos and 12,000 homeless people and a bad meth problem. I grew up in public housing. We sit in two-hour traffic every day, and most families have two working parents. We're 47th in America as far as education."
Tulba compares Hawaii's cultural diversity to that of New Orleans and New York. "On the mainland, every [Asian] is Chinese. In Hawaii, you know if that guy is Japanese or Chinese or Korean." Tulba speaks pidgin, a dialect formed by mixing languages, like New Orleans's Creole, which combines truncated words from French and English. "In English, you might say, 'Hey, you, have a great weekend, see you on Monday.' But the guys in Hawaii say 'Kay,' and then we leave," Tulba explains. "Everything is cut in half. It was done that way because of the different ethnic races working in the plantations; they took different slangs from different cultures and made it one." Pidgin is taught in Hawaiian colleges.
Tulba is a "clean" comic, meaning his material is free of curse words. He banished such words from his act after an interaction with his father in a small club in Oahu. "My dad comes to all my shows. He hasn't come lately because of a stroke, but before that, he came to every one." At the club in Oahu, Tulba hadn't noticed his father and uncle enter the room while he was onstage. "I let out the F-word and my dad walked up on stage and embarrassed me in front of everybody. He said, 'You think you're big? You want to swear?' Big means acting like you're tough, like you don't care what anybody thinks. He said, 'Are you trying to disrespect your family by swearing onstage?' Everybody that was there thought it was part of my act. I was, like, 'Dad, I'm 32 years old, shut up.' He said, 'If I catch you onstage swearing again, I will beat your ass.'"
Tulba's father began working at age 12, at which point his education stopped. He did not go past the fourth grade and has not learned to read. "Education was not really pushed in my family, but my [five] brothers and I have a strong work ethic. I might not have been well educated, but my dad taught me respect and that hard work prevails no matter what," says Tulba. "I got beaten up and I understood why I was getting beaten up. It formed my character." Prior to his career as a comedic performer, Tulba was a boxer. "I got hit in the head too much and something triggered something that made me start telling funny jokes. Or I just got tired of getting hit in the face."
Two years ago Tulba entered the Palm Springs Comedy Festival. During his act he talked about being a parent to a gay child. "The judges thought I had good energy, but they could not believe I had a gay son," Tulba remembers. "They thought I was gay bashing. I would never make fun of something that I don't understand." Tulba consults his son, Bo, prior to using any material about him. "He asked if I saw Brokeback Mountain, and I said 'No!' He said, 'Why? It's a great story, Dad,' and I said, 'Because I don't see cowboys, I see you and your friend, and I don't want to see that.' He's into hairstyling now. Every week he comes to my house with a mannequin. It's not every dad that goes to bed at night praying, 'Please, God, let my son be a hairstylist or a ballerina.' I'll never have a conversation with my son about UFC or the football game. I'm talking about hairstyling." Bo often encourages Tulba to be more "outrageous" and "flamboyant." "He understands that Dad loves him completely. He knows that I have a hard time with [his homosexuality], but he knows that I respect him." -- Barbarella
Hawaiian Music Night with comedian Augie T. and guest band the
San Diego Island Boys
Sunday, September 30
7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
2818 Avenida de Portugal
Cost: $20 presale, $25 at the door,
18 and up
Info: 619-223-5880 or www.upses.com