"Macadangdang soyut billy goat...."
  
Who hasn't heard the Filipino Christmas Carol at least 2 zillion times during the Christmas season here in Hawaii?  Who else ever taught us the dangers of sneezing while eating saimin?  Frank Delima has cracked up the locals for years with his zany parodies and ethnic humor.  All of us Portagees, Flips, Pakes, Popolos, Soleis, Haoles, and Kotonks provide Frank with all the ammunition he needs to poke fun at everyday life in Hawaii.  Hawaii411 caught up with funnyman Frank Delima at one of his favorite restaurants, the Wisteria on Young Street. 

Hawaii411: When did you start your career?
Frank: I'd say at 3 months old my script was being written already, because Mr. and Mrs. Yoneshige were my baby-sitters and they listened to radio KOHO (a Japanese station) every day for the first three years of my life (one of Frank's early comedy acts was based on Radio KOHO). KOHO Radio developed into Chinese kind stuff when Mrs. Lee came in. She baby-sat me until I was five. So I had Japanese culture first, then the Chinese culture and language. Without even knowing the language, I was imitating already. I dressed up with a cardboard box and the blanket and did the Lion Dance. We'd decorate the cardboard box with the lion's head and stuff. We were only kids... we had pots and pans too. 

My official start was when I was 25 years old with All-Inclusive Tours. I was entertaining tourists.... After that I worked at Club 400. I was real busy when I first started. All the imitations, the dressing-up, and the language, and the gibberish that I did when I was growing up came to life at the Noodle Shop in 1977. Before that it was no costume... just antics and mimicry.

Hawaii411: Didn't you want to be a priest at one time?
Frank: Yes, if we back up a little bit. When I went to Cathedral School in the eighth grade, I was an altar boy - my family is very strong Catholic. I took a test, but did not make it to the seminary, so I went to Damien. The Brothers helped me get my grades up so I could take the test my senior year. In the meantime, I just lived a normal life. I was the emcee for all the student assemblies. I joked around. I was also the guy on the mic for the football games, leading the cheers. My senior year I took the test and passed. I went for seven years - four at Saint Stevens Seminary - that's where I learned the 'Portagee Fight Song', which became one of my hits. I started to put together the Radio KOHO act there for the Saint Stevens Seminary luau. Then I went to Saint Patrick Theology in Menlo Park, CA. I learned a lot about Haole people there, and Mexicans, and Popolos. We had a luau at the Seminary and invited students from all the neighboring schools. I played ukulele and sang - we had a trio.
  
I was ordained a Deacon in 1974, came back here and was stationed at Holy Trinity. I found out many are called, few are chosen, so I became a comedian. I started working for the tour company, needed extra money, so I worked nights a Club 400. Unfortunately I got into a car accident.  In my recuperation time, I used to visit all my friends. When I recuperated enough, Millie Fujinaga, my manager still, hired us at The Noodle Shop in 1977, and that was the true beginning of my career. Then I went on to just doing my thing. I released my first album in 1977, "A Taste of Malasadas."
Hawaii411: I actually have that album.
Frank: You do?! It has the Portagee fight song, Radio KOHO, and all the stuff I had put together early in my career. In 1980, I wanted to do more, because I was only living the nightlife and I felt guilty about it. The nightlife can be scary too - a lot of bad things happen at night. So I thought I'd make use of my talent and the things I learned in the seminary. I talked to a Principal in Maui at Kauwila Elementary - every May I do shows there - and my cousin was working at the Maui Beach, and he said, 'Okay bring 'em.' So we did, and I entertained 800 kids from K-8. I signed autographs, talked about school, and did some things I learned when I was at the seminary, working with youth. At the Catholic Youth Organization (my boss was Norman Nakamoto) we learned how to work with youth, and the fun things we all can do. That was the beginning of the Frank Delima School Enrichment Program. I went back the following year, and my cousin had all the schools set up for me. I said, 'You gotta be kidding!' He said the other Principals had found out and so I did a half-hour each at 16 schools. On the weekend I would do my shows too, and I had five shows scheduled at the time… But I was young!

That was the beginning of my school program. Eventually it developed into, Reading, Studying, Laughing and Family - 'The Four Magic Words to Success.' I repeat that over and over for the kids from K-3. They hear it twice. I do the 'Peanut Butter and Jelly Song' and 'Going on a Buta Hunt' - they love it. 4th through 8th grades get a different theme every two years. I see all public and private schools throughout the state, except for those that decide not to have me, there's about 4 out of 350 schools.
Hawaii411: Do you actually go to St. Louis?

September 5, 2002 - Golf Tournament for the Frank Delima Student Enrichment Program

Fax: 521-4529
Cell: 226-4914

Please sign up at Wisteria or any Chevron
.
Frank: I go to St. Louis too. I go to every school, as long as they say okay. I just wish I could see 100%, but in life you cannot, no matter what. I've been doing that for 20 years. I financed it myself, because God was good to me and I had enough money to finance it for 17 of those 20 years. Three years ago, the bottom fell out and with no shows to work I was collecting unemployment. I was just going to close my school program, and then Chevron stepped in. I was doing something for the Boy scouts - Family night - and the guy in charge, Barney, liked what I was doing. Before that he didn't know what I did.  He said, 'My son comes home from school, says he saw Frank Delima and he was funny and that's it.' Of course kids are not going to tell parents what I tell them - to clean the house and study. So when he heard what I actually did say to the kids, he liked it and he helped me get sponsored by Chevron. The first year, the Dealers put in half, and the corporation put in the other half. They gave me a check for $65,000 to run my program. I also have my golf tournament that helps. The State chipped in, because the dealers were having a hard time and couldn't help. Chevron Corporation still helps and sponsors my golf tournament. They pay for my gasoline and my car repairs too. Thank God for Chevron. The State is helping too, and I have grants from Cox Radio and some others as well. 
 
The subject I'm talking about for the past two years (it takes two years to see all 350 schools) is acceptance - these are the things you can not change, change the things you can change, and be smart enough to know the difference.

Note: If you would like to donate to the Frank Delima School Enrichment Program, you can contact Frank at 226-4914).

Hawaii411: You mentioned that you are getting older and slowing down a little.  There were reports that you were trying to lose weight - how is that going?
Frank: I am slowly losing weight. Two years ago, I was up to 307 pounds. I thought I was too heavy, and my doctor said, "You gotta lose weight".  I didn't want to get diabetes, although my family has no history of it. I started to diet, and from 307 I now weigh 278. I am hoping that by the end of September I am down to 260. I'm just going down slowly. I've gone backwards a couple of times, but hopefully this time, I'll just go down. I've learned how to swim and I have someone pushing me to go to the gym.

Hawaii411: Dr Shintani had the Hawaiian diet.  Maybe you can print Frank's Portuguese Diet?
Frank: The Portuguese diet has too much sugar and too much fat, The Frank Delima Diet would be cutting back - no mayo. I learned this from a dietician, and she taught me how to eat. I eat whole wheat bread, and you cup your hands together, and that's how much protein you carbos you can eat, per meal. I tried to spread my fingers to make my hands bigger, but she said your hands are your hands and no more. I had to cut back on beer and I love beer.

5 things you didn't know about Frank:

Q:  Have you ever been to Portugal?
A: Twice, with my mom. Once on an airplane, the other on a cruise

Q: How Portagee are you?
A: I'm Portagee only when I make mistakes. I'm one-eighth Portuguese, no wait, HALF. That's Portagee. I'm half Portuguese. 

Q: Is it true that Mark Anthony is your brother?
A: Yes, that is true. Note: Not Mark Anthony the singer, but Mark Anthony Delima, Frank's brother who now lives on the mainland.

Q: What can you do with a waffle hot dog?
A: You can um, I forgot that one already. 'What do you do with a waffle hot dog (Frank sings through the commercial)... I don't know. They haven't played that for years. 

Q: In another life, what would you come back as?
A: Myself.

Hawaii411: You're going to be hosting a new game show, can you tell us a little about that?
Frank: "Mahjong Party," I play Lum Jong. Lum Jong means lucky, and I come out at the end of the show, and I draw tiles with the winning tile. If I have a higher tile, they lose and don't go to Vegas, that's the grand prize. There are other prizes too - good prizes. Lum Jong also gives the questions if it is taking them too long to win at Mahjong. He's being pulled right now by Carole Kai in a rickshaw. I tell her to hurry-up and she doesn't care.  Mahjong party plays every Saturday Night on KHON FOX2 at 5:30.
Hawaii411: Mahjong Party is one of Carole Kai's projects right?
Frank: She's in association with Franny Kirk (of Outrigger Entertainment).
Hawaii411: She had Hawaii Stars and now Jan Kan Po... Is she the Godmother of Local TV shows?
Frank: I have no idea. I think Don Ho still has the distinction of being the Godfather of Hawaiian entertainment. She could be though.
Hawaii411: Why not just be Frank  instead of Lum Jong?
Frank: It is Mahjong, and I've been known as being a character in everything. I like the idea of just continuing to dress up and do my thing like I was doing when I was six years old. 
Hawaii411: In one of Lee Cataluna's columns, she criticized you for doing local 'ethnic' humor. How do you respond to that?
Frank: My response to that is that the delivery that I do - my ancestors as well as hers did in the plantation. It was very, very important that they did because it helped them to know what humility was. It helped them to realize that no one's perfect, and there are some things that you don't laugh about and things that you can have fun with. The things that you can have fun with is the humor that we have today.  If you can look into another person's life you will notice certain idiosyncrasies that will make you giggle and laugh. If you can see that in others, than obviously they can see that in you and that's what they realized in plantation days. That's what kept them from being at each other's throats.

The reason that she responded that way was...  lets put it this way - there are three types of individuals who that tell jokes. The first are the professionals - people go to see them. If they don't want to see them, then they don't go. If they don't want to hear them on the radio or see them on TV, they turn the station. It's their choice, they live in a free country - thank God we still have one. We (professionals) have our venues (stage, TV, radio, film, print, etc). People have the choice to see, read or hear us there. The second joke teller are the ones who are think they are funny or love the jokes that they hear, and they want to share it with others. They are not mean hearted, but they don't realize that when they go into the workplace and just start blasting jokes, there are sensitive people there who do not have the self-esteem that is needed to handle all types of jokes. You have to remember to know who, when, where, why, and how. People get mad because of those people. The one's who get mad at comedians don't know what comedy is about. I tell them to go look at Webster's and go find out the meaning of it. Usually when people get mad, it's because they lack self-esteem or their pride is not pride, but arrogance... Nobody can dare tell a joke about them and they take it personally. The third is the most dangerous one - this is the one that hates. They will create and tell a joke about an ethnic group or person because they hate them for being different, feel that they are higher than them, or because of jealousy.

Those are the three types of joke tellers, and Lee probably doesn't know the difference and that's why she wrote that.

Hawaii411: I remember you doing "A Local Kine Christmas."
Frank: Right.... with all my friends. Mel Cabang was hilarious. It was on KGMB. There were others, with Don Ho.... Patrick Downs was my writer on that.  He still is my writer. Patrick is a brilliant man, he looks likes a deadpan, but he has a very demented mind. 
Hawaii411: Have you thought of doing another TV special?
Frank: Yes... Well, not another TV special, but something on video. I want to do an updated local version of Scrooge. I don't know when though.  It's expensive.
Hawaii411: Bu Laia is running for Governor again...
Frank:
He is AGAIN?!
Hawaii411: That pretty much answers our next question. You did a parody run for Governor, but would you ever throw your hat in the race?
Frank: Never. First of all, although I'm a comedian, I have a little bit of thin skin. I want to make sure everybody's happy, and it's tough. I could never be a politician. In my 26 years of comedy, I've had a few negative comments - and I've had to weather those storms.

Hawaii411: Do you ever run your ethnic humor by anyone before going on stage to see if it's too much?
Frank: No... Patrick and I go over it, and we run it live. If they laugh, then it's right on.  If they don't, then I throw it out. I have a Catholic background and try to make sure no one's feelings get hurt.  The ones that do get hurt usually are at the wrong place at the wrong time - like Ala Moana Center Stage, where everyone is there. I can't help it, and it's always for a fundraiser.  Even if they didn't hear it live, they may hear it from someone else and get mad.  It's either lack of self-esteem or arrogance.

Hawaii411: Do you still sing Waimea Lullaby?
Frank: Yes, in my show, most of the time. I recorded it on vinyl and it's on my newest CD. Well, it's not a 'new' CD, but a compilation of 18 albums - 18 of which won Hoku Awards. It's a best of, "The Frank Delima Silva Anniversary CD."
Hawaii411: What does that song mean to you?
Frank: It was written by Patrick Downs (one of Frank's writers). The song is a beautiful song. I am not a parent, but I do have a lot of parents who come up and request the song.

Hawaii411: What makes Frank Delima laugh?
Frank: I don't know.  A lot of things make me laugh - a good joke.... my friends - they're crazy crazy people. They pick on me a lot. I like that, because it gives me good ideas. Like about my weight - I told one of my friends I lost 17 pounds and he said, "You cut off a fin, it's still a whale." The next year when I lost another 17 pounds he said, "Just like a lizard tail, it'll grow back." It's horrible to sensitive people, but to me it sounds hilarious because they're friends. Friends can do that. That's what I tell the students.  "Know who you are telling funny jokes to.  You have to know who your audience is.  When you don't, you can really hurt somebody." 

Hawaii411: What are you most proud of?
Frank: I think my accomplishments as a comedian and my accomplishments with the school program. It's worked side by side for over 20 years, and I'm proud of those accomplishments - basically, making people happy, and teaching a message at the same time. I don't come out and preach, but through my humor, basically I'm letting them know that nobody's perfect.  You just gotta accept and enjoy life.
 
Hawaii411: You've been a life long entertainer.  What is it gonna take to get Frank of the stage?
Frank: Death. I'm not throwing hints though (laughs) for people who don't like me. They might throw poison in my coffee or something. Even if I'm in a wheelchair, I can still perform - as long as I have my mouth and my brain.

411 CONCLUSION: This funnyman is also a very busy man... And a caring one.  Frank's love for the Keiki is very evident in the way he speaks proudly about his program.  He's one of the rare few that do their all to give back to society... To make society better for people in general.  As a child I looked up to Frank because of his jokes and impressions.  As an adult, I admire his compassion and dedication to the children in our schools.  A HUGE Hawaii411 Thumbs up for Frank for being such a positive role model for our kids.

Please check Frank out at the Palace Showroom every Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm (Seating starts at 7:45pm).  Call 923-SHOW for reservations or information.  You can also check out www.mahjongparty.com as well as Mahjong Party the show, which airs every Saturday at 5:30pm on KHON FOX2.