A Blind Date…With Booga Booga!

Booga-Booga 1974
Booga-Booga 1974
Booga-Booga in 1974, from left, Rap Reiplinger, Ed Kaʻahea, James Grant Benton. Publicity photo

A Blind Date…With Booga Booga!

By Blaine Fergerstrom, 2016

In August 1976, I had just been honorably discharged after four years in the Navy and almost three years of living on the mainland. I had missed much of the “Hawaiian Renaissance” which had been going on here in my absence.

I had assimilated well during my duty in San Diego, Long Beach and Seattle. Dressed in my slickest tan denim suit with dress shirt, and platform shoes, I got off the plane to be “greeted” at the fence at the side of the tarmac by my family.

Greeted with lei and a hug from my mom, dad, and little sisters; and “greeted” with howls of derisive laughter from my three brothers! “Ho, brah, what happened to you? Look him, ‘all L.A.’ Hooo brah, too funny! You talk funny, too! We gotta fix dis!”

I had no idea what they meant by “fix dis,” but was soon to find out.

Later, as I was unpacking at home, the brothers paid a visit. “We went fix you up wit one date, tonight! We goin’ send you fo’ see ‘Booga-Booga!'”

“Well thanks!” I replied, (in my best Mr. Frogtree voice).

They gave me the girl’s phone number and directions to find Territorial Tavern.

I picked her up at 6. (She turned out to be a cute Japanese girl I knew from high school.) We stopped to get something to eat, and we made our way towards my fate (Fate?).

We got there, got a seat near the stage, ordered drinks and were chatting nicely to the background of slack-key guitar when the lights went down…

Then all hell broke loose!

The three members of Booga Booga, whom I had never heard of before, took the stage flinging out the thickest Pidgin English banter I had ever experienced. I had never heard of Pidgin English comedy, either!

My mind immediately snapped back to younger days when I cruised with “Mokes” and “Local Haoles,” where Pidgin is the standard and English is a second language, and the jokes are “mo’ funny.” I started laughing uncontrollably, having never heard anything so funny in my life! And they were just getting warmed up.

Joke, after joke, after joke came rapid-fire from the “tree blahlahs” on the stage. And my laughter became more, and more, and more uncontrolable.

Screaming in glee, I laughed until I couldn’t breathe, then I laughed more, until they brought out two thawed turkeys and used them as prop sumotori in a skit pantomiming a Japanese sumo wrestling match.

I lost it!

Laughing uncontrollably, dizzy from lack of breathing, the room began to spin, and I fell off my chair, and kept laughing while sitting on the floor…to the embarassment of my date!

Staff rushed over. “Are you OK? Are you alright?” The girl looked terrified and mortified! “Blaine, get up! Get up off the floor!”

I managed to crawl back into my chair, and we left shortly afterward.

I was still chuckling as I drove her home. She was silent. I dropped her at her front door. I think she said thank you with a handshake, then quickly retreated inside the house.

We never went out again. Actually, I never called her. I just figured she was too embarassed to go out with me again. I wonder what she told her sisters and friends about me?

I became a lifelong fan of the comedy genius of Booga Booga, Rap Reiplinger, James Grant Benton and Ed Ka’ahea. To this day, I can quote Rap’s routines, word-for-word.

I only recently learned that a friend from high school was the inspiration for Rap’s “Fate Yanagi” comedy bit and song! Faith Tachino, the “real” Fate Yanagi, was elevated to the status of “Legends of My Youth” at that moment. Whenever I had heard that song, over the past 40 years, I had always thought of Faith, and it had turned out to be true!

“Tell Fate Yanagi I love her; tell Fate Yanagi I need her; tell Fate Yanagi no go cry; and no go out wit’ Mits Funai.”