The joke on Maui comedian Curtis "Chino" LaForge is that the only thing bigger than his ego is his size. Chino stands 6' 5", 250 lbs. and is of mixed backgrounds. Hawaiian, Korean, Guamanian, German, French, Irish, Polish, and Native American make him "a living example of world-wide love," which gives him permission "to tell any borderline racial joke without the fear of being offensive."
LaForge has certainly paid his dues at this point of his blossoming career. He opened at most of the Maui Celebrity Series performances working on stage with William Shatner, Paul Rodriguez, Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, and Hal Sparks. In 2010, Chino took his act on the road touring California where he performed with Whitney Cummings. In 2011 he performed regularly with "the Comedy Hui" and toured Hawaii with Steve-O's "Entirely Too Much Information Tour." Since then he co-created Maui's Power Up Comedy troupe, and this summer, Chino toured and even headlined at a few clubs in the Pacific Northwest and Hollywood.
What intrigues me about LaForge is his versatility. In addition to standup comedy, he regularly performs in stage productions. In 2009, he appeared in the musicals "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "Urinetown." Then in the spring of 2011, he played Petruccio in "The Taming of the Shrew." But there's more, Chino also plays guitar, bass, and drums, occasionally performs spoken word and freestyle hip-hop at the Maui Slams and he excels in stage combat.
In addition to standup comedy, Curtis “Chino” LaForge regularly performs in stage productions. He also plays guitar, bass, drums, and occasionally performs spoken word and freestyle hip-hop.
Chino returns to Maui this weekend, where he will again join Power Up Comedy at the familiar confines of Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei.
I met with him last weekend and we discussed his climb up the comedy ladder. "The tour was amazing. I was able to perform 27 times in six weeks at some of top comedy clubs on the west coast," said LaForge.
I asked if he envisioned himself as a Mainland comic or a local comic in the future. "My material is a balance, a lot of it is about Hawaii, but I grew up in California. I think I can play both sides of the fence."
When I asked who his influences were, Chino offered, "I'm influenced by every comic I've ever seen. All the great comics I've worked with. Anytime someone makes me laugh I analyze why, maybe too much. There is a formula and I try to learn from others and use that formula towards my comedy style. But if I had to pick my favorite comics, I'd say Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Robin Williams."
LaForge was able to establish himself at a higher level than his previous Mainland tours. "I had a lot of success in Washington and I hope to return there to headline in the near future. It was definitely an adventure."
I asked if there were any funny stories he could share. "Definitely, I was accosted by this homeless man in Portland. He wanted some money and I said 'I don't carry cash.' He asked me to go use the ATM. So, I'm thinking pay a $3 ATM fee, get out a twenty and go get change to give him a buck? 'Sorry buddy.' Then he threatened to key my rental car. I couldn't help myself so I asked, "wait, why do you have keys?' "
Power Up Comedy has comedy nights scheduled at Stella Blues for the next six months, but outside of Power Up, LaForge will be opening for Scottish comic Luke Francis at Three's Bar and Grill in Kihei on Sunday, August 26. Chino has also been working with the film group, Under the Radar Productions, producers of an online political sketch comedy series called "Mad Libs." In addition to performing, LaForge writes the episodes. You can catch "Mad Libs" at funnyordie.com.
* Power Up Comedy presents "Return of the Chino," Saturday at Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei. The "Star Wars" themed night will be hosted by Sunny Dennis and also feature local comics Doug Wyckoff, Teresa Sickels, Doc Titanium and Jason Strahn. PG performance at 8 p.m., R rated at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 for both shows, $10 online at powerupcomedy.com, $15 at the door (per show) or free if you come dressed as your favorite "Star Wars" character.
By popular demand, Augie T's "Summer of LOL" returns to the McCoy Theater at the MACC, Friday, August 24. Special guests are Jose Dynamite and Brad Starks. Performance at 7:30 p.m., tickets $20 general, $35 premium with a special post show meet and greet included. To purchase tickets, visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
Luke Francis, actor, comedian, and television personality, will be performing on Maui Sunday, August 26 at Three's Bar and Grill.
Francis, born in Scotland, now makes his home in Los Angeles. He has been featured in such films as "The Fighter" with Mark Wahlberg. The popular comic will be filming a half hour stand up special for Comedy Central later this year. Francis will be joined by Michael C. Hall, Del Sol, Chino LaForge, and Anthony Nigrelli. Performance at 8 p.m., tickets $10 at the door. For more information visit comedyhawaii.com.
Come sail away with the Kit Kat Club and a cast of entertainers from Oahu as they take you on an exotic, fantasy-inspired journey to "Fantasy Island - a Kit Kat Club Cabaret" on Friday, August 31 at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu.
From the gleaming deck of a romantic yacht to the deepest depths of a wild jungle, this jam-packed extravaganza promises to bring you a night of exotic wonder and intrigue.
Theme acts include go-go beach babes, pin-up Betties, sultry savages, feats of danger, wild animals, and exotic espionage with island temptresses Casey Murphy, Ellen Peterson, Jessica Dungans, Karen Stavish and KD Churchill. Joining the bill are four burlesque beauties from Oahu, Violetta Beretta, Kitty Chow, Lola Love and Miss Catwings. Exotic cocktails will be created by Cudra Clover and hypnotic dance music and visuals by Fuzz Box and Event Horizon.
Island fantasy wear is encouraged. Doors at Maui Tropical Plantation open at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. This is a 21 and older event. To purchase advance tickets, visit fantasyislandmaui.eventbrite.com. A limited number of VIP tables are also available with premium, reserved seating and cocktail service by pin-up gals. The VIP tables are $75, table for 2 and $120, table for 4. Price of admission included. To reserve VIP seating for a larger group contact via email kitkatclubmaui@gmail, or call 280-5096.
Don't miss the 24th annual Garden Party, a benefit for MAPA's educational and performing arts programs, Sunday September 9. Celebrate great food, wine and the arts on the beautiful Yokouchi Estate in Wailuku. Tickets are $75 in advance or $85 at the door. The all inclusive event includes talented Maui singers performing songs from MAPA musicals, an open bar with fine wines by Whole Foods Market and local beer from Maui Brewing Co.
This year's restaurants will be A Saigon Cafe, Bistro Casanova, Cafe O'Lei, Duke's Beach House, Flatbread Co., Maui Tacos, The Melting Pot, Monkeypod Kitchen, Three's Bar & Grill, Vineyard Food Co. and Waterfront Restaurant. Tickets may be purchased in person at the MAPA office, the Nail Shop in Kihei, the Queen Ka'ahumanu customer service counter and at the Whole Foods Market customer service counter. For more information visit mauiacademy.org, or call 244-8760.
The much anticipated Haunted Iao Theater episode will conclude the "Haunted Collector" season at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, August 29 on the SyFy Channel. Some of the most convincing paranormal film and audio footage was captured and the items found buried just outside the theater will certainly cause chicken skin. Maui OnStage will be screening the episode several times over Halloween if you miss the debut broadcast. The Historic Iao Theater will host "Phantom of Rocktober," four nights of spooktacular events starting on October 28.