The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Local Comedians Honor Their Hero, Rap Reiplinger
HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor Paradise of the Pacific, which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at December 2001.
“Not too sweet, not too rancid, but just right eh!” That’s just one of the hilarious lines from Auntie Marialani’s Kitchen. IYLYK (if you local you know). Rap Reiplinger’s kaleidoscope of side-splitting characters—why hasn’t anyone done a cracker commercial with Mr. Okada?—will always make locals cry-laugh. Reiplinger was (in some ways) our Robin Williams. In a 2001 HONOLULU Magazine article, “The Children of Rap” by David K. Choo, the Punahou alum is praised by comedians who, over the years, have put their best funny feet forward.
“Rap did stuff with drama. I think he elevated local humor to the level of theater, literature and art. It wasn’t anything your funny uncle could do at a party. It was a whole different level,” says Lee Cataluna, herself a brilliant playwright who masterfully blends community and comedy. She admired Reiplinger for his ability to highlight our melting pot of relatable personalities without demeaning individual ethnicities. “He didn’t need to rely on ethnic stereotypes. He made situations funny. Do you know the ethnicity of the room service operator?”
The late Lisa Matsumoto credited Rap for having the biggest influence on her work. Once Upon One Time was the opening act to her many career upsides, including helming her own successful production/publishing company. In 2001, six years before her passing, she said: “I will always strive to nail his kind of humor, and I think that the way I use characters may come close. I try to present humor in a positive way, that we can laugh at ourselves. … My friends and I would always run around saying, ‘Go cook da chicken, go cook da chicken.’”
Choo adds: “Matsumoto recalls that Reiplinger’s mother once attended one of her shows and later told one of the actors that the play reminded her of her son’s work. It was one of the biggest compliments Matsumoto has ever received.”
Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at shop.honolulumagazine.com.
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