Lawrence delivers laughs at Blaisdell Arena
BY JACQUELYN CARBERRY / email@example.com
Expect the unexpected while working on assignment tends to be my motto.
I like to make sure all my ducks are in a row and arrive early while working an event, especially while on assignment at large venues such as the Blaisdell Center or Waikiki Shell. I like to have my ticket in hand and know in the back of my mind that the assigned photographer for the show is also on the grounds.
While things go smoothly 97 percent of the time and I can think of about 400-plus entertainment-related stories in my career in which that has proven true, there are occasions when the worst does happen: The promised tickets aren’t at the box office booth, for example.
One time I spent a hot afternoon combing the grounds of the Waikiki Shell for the media pass at a Jason Mraz concert. The contact could not be found and I walked from gate to gate in a crowd of thousands, looking for the golden key. (A media pass – a sticker, of all things – was eventually found.)
In this case, comp tickets were not at the box office for comedian Martin Lawrence’s show at Blaisdell Arena on Saturday. But unlike the prior event, Lawrence’s tour manager, Michael Hubbard, soon arrived and I seized the moment to introduce myself. He both graciously and smoothly took care of me and about 50 other people who also had arrangements for comp tickets.
I interviewed Lawrence, an actor-comedian who has starred on TV in the show “Martin” and in such movies as “Do the Right Thing,” “Life” and “Bad Boys” and “Bad Boys 2,” for a story in advance of the show. He returned to stand-up comedy in August with a new act called “Doin’ Time” and is now touring nationally. In trying to coordinate an interview time with a staff member at his agent’s office, the contact, Jenni Weinman, offered to arrange for myself and a guest to see the show and meet Lawrence afterward.
I decided to take Weinman up on the offer. While tickets for other shows and the possibility of meeting up afterward have been casually mentioned in the past by other PR reps or entertainers – an interview with a member of the band Franz Ferdinand comes to mind in which he asked me if I would would like to meet up during a festival – I had yet to take someone up on the offer of connecting backstage. This sounded like a fun, relaxing evening with good company and pretty much a guaranteed good time. I thought, “Why not?
Our seats were off just to the right of the stage where we could observe up close opening act Melanie Kambocha, who was introduced as Lawrence’s favorite female comedian, and of course, see Lawrence himself.
My friend and I sat in an area with other people who had ties to Lawrence. One guest, a cousin of a personal assistant to Lawrence, was on vacation from Washington D.C. and told us a bit about Lawrence’s busy Honolulu schedule, mentioning he had arrived the day before and that he planned to leave Tuesday with his group. Then the three of us soon turned our attention to the opening act.
Kambocha, of the TV show “Last Comic Standing,” warmed up the crowd for about 15 minutes and though the audience seemed mostly familiar with her, perhaps it was not enough time to get to know her, as she seemed to be a brief blip on stage and on the two large screens off to the left and right of the stage.
I liked her sophisticated sense of humor and “ladies can relate” viewpoint on subjects such as dating and mating.
Lawrence, by contrast, had a warm, congenial vibe to him, as well as a good-natured goofiness. One could, yes, picture this guy as someone who might go jogging in 100-degree weather in a plastic suit, an event which actually did take place earlier in his career.
In particular, I enjoyed Lawrence’s segment on growing older. Lawrence turned 50 this year, remarking on stage that he had been in show business for 30 years; I imagine that’s he seen and experienced a lot both as an entertainer and as a minority in the business, as he alluded to briefly in his act. (The audience, by the way, was diverse both in age and ethnicity, attesting to his appeal.)
My friend, whom I was happy to bring because she is a fan of Lawrence’s, and I met the entertainer briefly backstage afterward in a makeshift meet-and-greet area. The performer appeared backstage about 10 minutes after his set to greet about 30 audience members.
Lawrence was congenial and seemed to be in good spirits. I also saw his tour manager again and he told me to make sure to let Lawrence know that I was the reporter who had interviewed him. A brief bit of recognition lit up Lawrence’s eyes at the mention of the word “interview.”
In all, it was a good evening and went like I expected for the most part: Time spent with a good friend at an entertaining show.
Thank you to Lawrence for putting on a good show and to all the contacts who had a hand in making the arrangements happen.