That Kauai concert gig was a memorable, learning, humbling experience. All entertainers have stories of rejection and failure, especially when starting out.
“My biggest challenge was not giving up when industry people said I couldn’t relate to audiences, that I cater only to a specific audience. The support of the people of Hawai?i through my entire career helped me overcome that,” said Augie.
Asked about what he believes is his special quality that helped him succeed, he said “I always told the truth and didn’t stop when people said I wasn’t relatable – too local or too much pidgin.”
“I don’t find anything hard when you are telling the truth. I never thought of comedy as being offensive. I’ve had very few complaints the last 27 years.
“It’s important to keep it real! I will only talk about things I believe in or have knowledge in. People can spot and smell a fake.”
As far as material he stays away from – “anything political. And I will never tell people how to think or educate people on facts. People pay to laugh! I’m a storyteller, a reflection of society. If I see something that makes me laugh, I’m probably gonna talk about it.”
On success and the future
Augie’s storytelling -- which is what comedy is – is really about sharing regular, ordinary things people do that don’t make sense when you step back and think about them. That lack of reason or oddity is what makes it funny.
Then, of course, careful delivery, narration, framing punchlines, then the punch – all are considered by comics.
It’s masterful acting and preparation.
Through the years his fanbase kept growing. His DVDs (already produced 9) and CDs helped to expand his body of work to people who haven’t caught his live shows. Marketing in the digital age helped. Write ups by select media and awards added to his already massive following.
Pacific Business News named him one of its 40 Under 40 people (outstanding members in the community). The former Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Midweek named him funniest comic in Hawaii. Honolulu Magazine called his show, the best comedy show.
At an exhibit at the Bishop Museum, he was also recognized as one of Hawaii’s top 100 influential Filipinos.
He won two Hawaii Music Awards.
He won two prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano awards: one for Comedy Album of the Year with “Da Comedy Kahuna” in 1999, the other for “Locally Disturbed” in 2003.
He is also the only local comedian to sell out the Blaisdell Arena. And arguably is among the top three in commercial success as a local comedian.
As host of one of Hawaii’s top morning radio shows, the Augie Radio Show on 93.1 Da Pa’ina, he has cemented his stature as a local celebrity. He has the Augie TV Show on K5 and OC 16, and co-starred on Cheap Eats on Hawaii News Now for the past nine years.
Then there are all those TV show appearances like Hawaii Five-O, Magnum P.I. and others.
He’s been everywhere media goes from radio, TV, print. Being funny and telling jokes is just first base for what he does. The combination of ambition, business smarts, networking is perhaps what really pushed him to that next level.
Along the way to fame, Augie has used his high visibility to bring attention to worthy causes such as B.R.A.V.E and numerous other organizations that champion healthy children and families.
“Over the last few years, I was fortunate enough to serve in the administrations of Mayor Billy Kenoi on Hawai?i Island and Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui. I learned a lot about myself, people, and our community. I really enjoyed serving and helping.
“After 27 years of doing comedy, DVD specials and turning 50 years old, I thought maybe it was time to do sometime different. So public service is something I’m interested in,” said Augie.
“Also in the last year, I got to act in two movies and a prime time TV show: Kuleana, A Midsummer’s Hawaiian Dream, and an upcoming episode of Magnum P.I. Now that my kids are grown up, it might be time to pursue passions I couldn’t when I first started in the entertainment business.”
On being Filipino
Augie is short for Augusto, his grandfather’s name. The “T” is short for Tulba.
His grandparents came from the Philippines in 1916. Augusto was 16 and his grandma Serapia was 14. They worked on the plantation on Maui and had 8 children who were all born and raised in Hawaii. His grandparents later moved back to Maria Siquijor in Central Visaya.
Augie’s wife is also half Filipino. “I have an amazing wife. She encourages, challenges and supports me 100% even when I mess up. We have a pretty tight knit group of family and friends.”
One thing he says about being Filipino is that he likes to work like most hardworking Filipinos. His work ethic started early when he was a kid selling newspapers. As a teen, he worked at Jack In the Box, and soon after, Kapiolani Medical Center where he worked for 16 years.
“I share the same beliefs as my dad and his parents. As a proud Filipino, I always work hard and don’t take anything for granted. You don’t need to tell people you work hard. They see it for themselves.
“If you work hard, anything is possible.” And Augie T has done wonders with possibilities.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces. I would like to be remembered as someone who wasn’t scared to talk about tough topics, and kept it clean so the whole family could laugh together.”
At 50, there’s still a lot more to do. With Augie having accomplished so much already, his fans are excited to see what’s next.
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