A Few Laughs: Just What We Need

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - September 07, 2011
| Del.icio.us

Katherine Poythress, Mahealani Richardson and Malika Dudley at a rehearsal for ‘Gridiron’. Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo

This recession is getting me down. My 11 regular readers have noticed this. One week I wage class warfare against the nation’s beleaguered, job-creating multimillionaires. The next week I compose a screed against the last, best hope for American solvency: the Tea Party. Then I rain hard reality on Charles Djou’s announcement of his candidacy for Congress and disabuse Gov. Neil Abercrombie of his hopeful rhetorical metaphors.

And whatever the subject, sarcasm, cynicism and world-weariness drip from my every word. One attentive reader writes: “What’s wrong with the Professor? You’ve gone from writing about economic recession to clinical depression.”

Woe is me. Woe is me. The truth hurts, for I, like all good Americans, credit myself with at least one of the cardinal virtues: mine being a sense of humor. Where then has it fled?

Damned if I know, but I’ll tell you a group of people who’ve not lost theirs: the writers and performers of Gridiron 2011, the Society of Professional Journalists’ fundraiser to support annual internships at three magazines, one newspaper, a radio station, a public relations firm, an Internet news outlet, two television stations and the public relations division of a local company. Two Fridays ago they had me laughing to the point of tears at times through 90 minutes and 31 skits filled with music, dance, and parody of every politician in town.

Colleen Hanabusa, for example Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s press secretary, Donalyn Dela Cruz, reprised the role she’s danced and sung in at least the last three Gridirons. Dressed in Hanabusa’s signature Chinese-style pantsuits, Dela Cruz rapped out (to Like a G6 performed by Far East Movement) a parody of Hanabusa’s effort to sell her million-dollar-plus Ko Olina home and find a place to live in the congressional district she represents: “Do you wanna buy a place in Ko Olina, Get to four lagoons and a marina, Hanabusa’s condo now, condo now, selling this quick, ‘Cause I wanna find a crib in my district, In my district, in my district, ‘Cause I wanna find a crib in my district, in my district, in my district.”

Dela Cruz and her five backup singers and dancers brought down the house a house that included a laughing, blushing Congresswoman Hanabusa.

Then there was KITV’s Keoki Kerr, who, with Robbie Dingeman, serves as Gridiron‘s artistic director. He has a terrific voice, and in I’m Peter, Not Mufi (sung to the tune of Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin) Kerr zinged two mayors: “You may observe I’m not so tall, And my skin is not brown at all, I’m Peter, not Mufi, I hired his staff, I’ve got the rail, I hope it’s not too big to fail, But I’m Peter, not Mufi ... And you’ll observe, I’m a little goofy.”

It’s unfair to single out one or two songs or skits, because so many of them were so good; but just a few more, please: Hawaii News Now‘s Malika Dudley dancing and singing up a storm in We Are Myron B (to We Are Family) on the joys of charter school nepotism; the venerable and extraordinarily talented Billy Sage and a score of dancers knocking HECO with a song titled The Power’s Out Tonight (to The Lion Sleeps Tonight), the StarAdvertiser‘s Gordon Pang as Dan Inouye singing dolefully, of course -

Where Have All My Earmarks Gone? Or try a stage full of performers singing Aaaaabercrombie to the tune of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

The list goes on. Gridiron

provided a rollicking night: funny, well-written, wonderfully performed and a reminder that laughter is mightier than the rant.

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