Jerry... Eh-brah-nics ... crack me up! Paul Ogata has not only
made a splash locally, but also nationally and internationally with his
hilarious stand up routines and multi-character voice impressions and
His CD, Mental Oriental, was released in 1999 and helped win Paul the
Hawaii Music Award for Most Popular Comedy Artist that same year.
The material on the CD is reminiscent of Rap Reiplinger's and is made up
of side-splitting sketch comedy acts and character impressions.
Presently, you can tune in to Paul on the morning bomb program at 102.7 Da
Hawaii411 got to talk to Paul over lunch and met this man of one thousand
voices. Looks like Paul's ready to start, so let's see what he has
411: How did you get your start?
Paul: I was a doorman at the Honolulu
Comedy Club. It was like school - learning, watching, and getting tips
from the all the experts coming to town.
411: You have a quote from Redd Foxx on your
album? Is it a real quote?
Paul: Yeah, I actually met him. It was
really one of the best experiences for me in comedy, because I was just
the opening for the show, and after the show Redd Foxx walked past the
headliner and came to me, and told me I did a good job. I gotta count that
as one of my career highlights.
How tall are you?
Paul: Five-three, but you
know, four-fifteen sounds taller.
411: On your CD, "Mental Oriental" you have a
wide array of voices. What inspired them?
Paul: Growing-up, I listened to a lot
of comedy - Booga-Booga, Rap, Monty Python... it's all about different
characters and voices, that always made me laugh.
411: Any chance of bringing back "Uncle
Jerry" (Paul's hard of hearing Mr. Magoo-type character)?
Paul: Definitely, in the New Year,
just keep listening to Da Bomb. I enjoy Uncle Jerry because he could
commit these atrocities of the English Language, but he was forgiven. He
could be crochety, but deep down he was really a warm-hearted, so he could
get away with that. Now I find myself getting into "Johnny Punani"
(the celebrity gossip reporter who runs the hula halau brown cow). It's
actually kinda scary getting into those roles.
Would Johnny Punani find Joey Ching sexy?
Paul: Definitely... oh, I thought you
meant Shawn Ching. Actually, no to both.
411: By the way, is "Mental Oriental" a personal or professional diagnosis?
Paul: When I was picking
the title, I was leary of choosing that because "Oriental" to
some is a derogatory term, so is "mental." I just wanted to
show that anything you hear is just comedy. Labels and words are just
that, words. I think the more we explore that, the less power those
words will have in a derogatory sense.
On Da Bomb, you have much freer range with your words, than your last
radio station. Do you think that radio can go too far with those words,
into "shock" rather than real entertainment?
Paul: There is a definite
danger in radio doing that, but I don't think that we get near that line
on Da Bomb, I may be mistaken, but I don't think we do. I have more
freedom on Da Bomb. I wasn't allowed (at his previous station) to say,
'hell' on the air. There's a lot of words that aren't really cuss words
that I wasn't allowed to say there, but in everyday life, how many times
are you going to hear people say 'hell?'
"Mental Oriental" was reminiscent of Rap Reiplinger, but you
mention Andy Bumatai as one of your comedy heros, who influenced you
Paul: On the Album, the
material is very different from what I do on stage. In fact it's totally
different. On stage, it's more of the stuff I picked up from Andy, but
this album is definitely a nod towards Rap. I had all of Andy and Raps
albums. I don't feel that in Hawaii you could do an album that wasn't
props in someways to those two guys.
411: If you couldn't do comedy or radio, or if you plain just sucked at it, what would you do for a living?
Paul: You mean what am I
doing next Tuesday? Nah, I think I would work with computers. When I was
a kid, I made computer games, and I took classes in school. I was really
getting into that, then I dropped out of physics in college and went
What was your major in college?
Paul: At UH, I went into electrical engineering, because that's what you do when you're Japanese and from Pearl City.
411: You're an accomplished comedian and a radio personality, what would you rather focus on?
Paul: Radio is kind of weird. It's a double-edged sword. You get to talk
to more people at once than you ever could on stage, but you don't get
that instant feedback. That's where my passion is... being on stage and doing stand-up, but as long as radio allows me to do that (a forum for comedy) I'll continue to do radio. Radio is steady, but at one time comedy paid the bills by itself.
411: You mentioned that comedy once paid the bills - what do comedians have to do to become the Hawaii's focus again?
Paul: Somebody other than a comedian has to put up a lot of money to build a new comedy club. If you know anybody like that... I think that there is no better time than now. People really need to laugh after September 11th. Maybe that will be a catalyst for people to seek out comedy whether it's on the radio, or in a club... or in a CD like "The Mental Oriental"
Any new CDs for the Mental Oriental?
Paul: I wanted to try something different. I don't know if it's a live album on stage, maybe more stand-up, but I don't know. We'll see how it comes. If you want to catch me doing stand-up on CD, there is a CD called "Hawaii Comedy Stars" which originally was a project that was a benefit for Freddy Morris. I don't get dime-one out of it, so really you should steal it from the store.
Who makes Paul Ogata laugh?
Paul: I like sitting back and watching real life happen. You know, when somebody at the mall trips on the sidewalk, they always get up and give the sidewalk stink-eye. That makes me laugh - watching real life.
411: What's your ultimate professional goal?
Paul: To be on stage and make people smile and laugh. You know, if someone's having a hard day at work and they can look back and laugh at something I said or did, that's what I want.
What is your life philosophy?
Paul: Be nice to most
people. For the Rest? Make fun of them on stage.
411: What do you want Hawaii to know?
Paul: Radio is where you
can find me now, at 102.7 DaBomb. If there's anybody who feels like
they'd rather listen to another station, that's fine - that's their
right, but please, in every survey they take, write down 102.7 DA BOMB!
411 Conclusion: Two words come to
mind when describing Paul Ogata... Damn Funny. Paul's 100 mph
jokes during lunch almost caused us severe chokage via jokeage.... It's
refreshing to see that Paul is 'hardcore' about comedy. He's truly
in this profession to do one thing... make people laugh. Thanks
Paul, for making Hawaii411 laugh, and congrats on your pending wedding
date! Good luck, and we'll be watching (and listening to Da
The Ice Breakers
411: What is your favorite place to be in Hawaii?
Paul: Outside of my house...Hawaii is one of those perfect places that you wanna be outside.
411: What was your favorite Hawaii-based T.V. Show?
Paul: Ya gotta go old school - Hawaii 5-0... it's the one that started it all.
411: Ever thought of getting "Japanese" or "Oriental" tattooed on you body?
Paul: I think I would get a full body tattoo of someone famous - a lifesize tattoo of Shaq.
411: What's your favorite Hawaii Webpage?
Paul: You mean besides my own (Cyberstupid.com)
and Hawaii411? (We let him go with that as his answer)
411: What local figure (living or dead)
would you like to take out to lunch?
Paul: Who's paying? You guys? I guess it'd be Aku (Hal "Aku Lewis) because he's the guy that
set the benchmark for radio in Hawaii. I want to talk to the master.
Other snipets from Paul's interview:
411: How about family? You have any brothers or
always wanted a younger brother or sister, just so I could slap someone
I think my parents stopped after me because they finally got it
411: Were you a "Class Clown" from your
Paul: I think that comedians are tragic people in the sense that for some reason, we resort to jokes and comedy for acceptance. Um, what was the question again? Oh yeah, I was the class clown. I did a lot of detention and writing on chalkboards.
411: Do the same teachers who used to scold you now come up to you and say "Oh Paul, you always used to make me laugh?"
Paul: I see them in Safeway, and when the see me, they turn their cart around and go the other way. I think when I start to hang around in places where I see my old teachers, it's time for me to start collecting social security.
Paul Ogata Links: