In the realm of raw, local comedy, Allan Augustine is a name most people will recognise.
He’s often likened to American stand-up comedians/actors Kevin Hart and Chris Rock but says his style of delivery can be seen as a cross between veteran comics Dave Chappelle and Cedric The Entertainer.
Realistically, though, he prefers to be known simply as Allan D’ Entertainer, a local home boy delivering his own unique brand of rib-tickling humour.
Tonight, Augustine will host the premiere of Stir Crazy Comedy Thursdays at the exclusive Silhouette Restaurant and Lounge in Valsayn. The show features the iconic Learie Joseph as the headline act.
Stir Crazy Comedy Thursdays is the brainchild of managing director Udesh Maharaj, who felt the time had come to introduce a comedic element to the club’s stellar package. Silhouette Restaurant and Lounge opened its doors in February 2014.
Augustine told Newsday: “Mr Maharaj called Errol Fabien and said he wanted comedy within the walls of the lounge. Errol called me because we had done some shows together and he realised that I have some ideas.”
Under the banner of his fledgling company, Million LAFFS Promotion, Augustine said he quickly designed a show guaranteed to satisfy even the most finicky of patrons.
Augustine, who has performed in several Caribbean islands over the years, said he was excited about the project.
“I will be the host of Stir Crazy Comedy Thursdays which will be held twice monthly. It will be a place where people could laugh about things that have bogged us down in society.
“But, it is also a forum for open mics, where people who want to try their hand with comedy or any other artform, could try their hand and showcase their talent.”
He said the forum also could be used as a launching pad for aspiring comedians to perform anywhere in the world.
Augustine knows a thing or two about the importance of opportunity and the need for up and coming artistes to be given breaks in any genre.
“I think it is important. All artistes will be given that breakthrough It is about seeing it and embracing it.
“Once they are sincere about entertaining and moving audiences and really reaching out to people with their art form, I think opportunities will be given. It is just a matter of sensing when it is there and embracing it and going 100 percent in.”
Raised in La Horquetta, Augustine said he has always been involved in drama and comedic productions.
“People have always invited me to do stuff comedy-wise but I decided to branch out and become my own personal brand with my own company because I saw there was a need for good, wholesome entertainment between the walls of TT and the Caribbean. I made that decision in 2013 and launched Million LAFFS Promotion in April 2015.
The self-taught performer said his material was drawn from a multiplicity of sources.
“It can be about who we are as a people, as Trinbagonians and Caribbean people. But I have also taken material from how I grew up, the neighbourhood that informed me, my school, church and relationships.”
Asked about his mentors in comedy, Augustine said: “Locally, I look up to almost all of the comedians that went before Errol Fabien, Learie Joseph and George Gonsalves.”
He said late comedian Earl Phillips also was a positive influence during his early years in the art form.
“He was instrumental in me grabbing a microphone and sharing this art form.”
Augustine said the success he enjoys did not come easy.
He recalled he once attended a comedy search at 51 Degrees in Port of Spain at which Penelope Spencer and the late Mairoon Ali were judges.
“I bombed terribly about two minutes into the routine. I walked downstairs, picked up my face from the floor and walked out of the building. But I kept telling myself that I was still funny and could do this.”
Then in 2012, Augustine said he received a long-awaited breakthrough.
“It was the weakest, most vulnerable moment in my life. I had not done anything for two years and I said a prayer asking God which way is up. I told him I wanted to go back on stage and perform to enlighten hearts and minds because I enjoy making people happy.”
Augustine recalled that within a few days, he was called to be part of a production called De Man’s Den, written by Allan Charles.
“I did a comic relief role that literally stole the show, which, to me, was the breakthrough performance in me actually taking on the role of going on as a solo entertainer in the field of comedy.
“I got serious applause every night that it played. From then on, I have never really starved for an entertaining role.”
Now, Augustine said, the sky’s the limit.
PHOTOS COURTESY ALLAN AUGUSTINE