Weekend of laughter with two comedians selling out shows in Honolulu

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The last weekend of November 2021 is a big one for live shows in Honolulu. Two comedians are taking the stages at the Blaisdell and the Hawaii Theatre, and more events are to be expected once further COVID restrictions are lifted beginning Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Live show promoters said the events industry is moving in the right direction, but they remain cautious after a long road to get to this point.

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The Neal S. Blaisdell Arena has its first headliner since the start of the coronavirus pandemic with sold-out shows for comedian Jo Koy — and a line around the Blaisdell to prove it.

Kapolei resident Michael Pascual was among the attendees for Koy’s show; he said he saw him back in 2019.

Pascual said, “I just can’t believe that we get to see it after this lockdown, like, honestly quarantine has been depressing for me, just being able to laugh tonight is just going to bring wonders to me.”

Events in Honolulu currently require all attendees to be vaccinated, and venues are only allowed to serve bottled water inside the shows. Across the arena at the exhibition hall, food and beverages will be served before the event starts.

But starting Dec. 1, events can resume selling snacks and drinks.

The Hawaii Theatre also has a couple of sold-out comedy shows with headliner Ronny Chieng. The Hawaii Theatre Center President and CEO Gregory Dunn said they added a second date with Chieng once COVID-19 restrictions are allowed for larger events to resume.

Dunn said they are now in the process of getting the food concessions at the theater back up and running.

“It’s been 20 months that we’ve been closed and haven’t had any alcoholic beverage. No sodas, no inventory on hand, so now we have to ramp that back up,” explained Dunn.

Also beginning in December, venues will be able to allow vaccine exemptions for attendees with a negative COVID-19 test result taken 48 hours before the show, but not all show promoters will grant the exemption.

Dunn said, “But a lot of the promoters are still saying, you know, we really want to make sure that we’re doing right by the talent and also doing right by the patrons.”

Sold-out shows are a positive sign, but events promoter Rick Bartalini said it could still take time for some popular big-name acts to return to Hawaii.

“There will be those shows that were postponed that will pop-up, but in terms of a fresh new booking for a large event, you know, in the several thousands of tickets, it’s going to be a while,” Bartalini said.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

Bartalini’s next big act to come to Hawaii will be Bill Maher with the return of his New Year’s Eve event at the Blaisdell. He said there are still conversations to reschedule Mariah Carey’s concert that was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

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