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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hip hop, humor for the troops

by Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Last night's free concert for military personnel at the Waikiki Shell included comedians Wanda Sykes, Paul Rodriguez and Colin Quinn, and rock singer Bif Naked.

Andrew Shimabuku | The Honolulu Advertiser

Headliner Snoop Dogg gave the enthusiastic audience an hour of his hits, and they didn't hesitate to sing along from Tha Dogg Pound.

Photos by andrew shimabuku | The Honolulu Advertiser


Snoop Dogg wouldn't be ready to drop it like it was hot for another three hours. But Navy mechanic Kendra Wilson had claimed her Waikiki Shell lawn spot with a clear view of the stage.

"Snoop? Oh, I want that man!" said Wilson, hooting and high-fiving a friend. "Natural or braided, I'd take him and keep him happy! Mmmm!"

The music and comedy concert Wilson was waiting for yesterday was the final act of a two-day celebrity-studded fundraiser called "Bodog Salutes Our Troops: A Tribute To American Heroes." It included a Friday night poker tournament at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental matching up military players with celebrities like Shannon Elizabeth ("American Pie"), Jorge Garcia ("Lost") and Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy").

Open only to military personnel lucky enough to win one of 9,000 free tickets, the concert was sponsored entirely by Bodog.net, a Web site offering poker strategies and tips.

Bodog donated $50,000 and promised proceeds from any TV broadcast sales of the events to the military charity Fisher House Foundation. The foundation houses relatives of people receiving medical care at military sites. Two Fisher Houses serve Tripler Army Medical Center.

The concert also included hit-and-miss stand-up sets from comedians Wanda Sykes, Paul Rodriguez, Colin Quinn and wannabe rock riot grrrl Bif Naked. But headlining final act Snoop Dog was the performer most were eager to see.

Navy Petty Officer Ernest Hall, 22, and his wife, Nisha, responded to an e-mail sent to his squad offering free tickets.

"Everybody I know who wanted to go got to come," said Hall. "We're here to see Snoop and Wanda."

Sixty local finalists, representing all branches of the military, qualified in two months of competition to win a place in Friday night's No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em poker competition. But actor Estella Warren ("Planet Of The Apes") wound up the last player sitting after beating Army soldier Shane Woods.

Clear skies, cool trade winds and gratis Bodog gift bags greeted attendees at last night's concert. The enthusiastic, mostly teen and twenty-something crowd dressed down in jeans, shorts, tees, tanks and free bodog.net baseball caps. A full pit of bodies in a stage front pool began roiling as soon as Sykes took the stage a bit early at 6:30 p.m.

Sykes busted on the war, Michael Jackson and the reality show "Being Bobby Brown" in her short, but well-received set.

"If you take a drink every time they do, you'd be drunk," she said of a drinking game designed around the Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston series.

When a fan asked her to come off the Shell stage for some personal contact, she cracked back, "I can't walk on them bushes, baby. I ain't Jesus."

Latino comedian Paul Rodriguez joked about the similarities between Mexicans and Iraqis.

"You don't believe me, go home and look at a picture of Carlos Santana and Osama Bin Laden," said Rodriguez. "I turned (Santana) in to the police."

Sets by Colin Quinn and Canadian rocker Bif Naked were largely unremarkable. The only interesting thing in Naked's set was a staged appearance by Dog the Bounty Hunter and his posse, who knocked down a fake fan rushing the stage.

Celebrity guests and performers at both events were paid by Bodog for their appearances.

Snoop hit the stage just after 8 p.m., digging into "Ups & Downs," his hair tied in braids, a red, white, and blue "Support Our Troops" jersey over his tall and lean frame.

His stage crew included a full band he dubbed "The Snoopadelics" capable of deep seventies-style soul grooves, a trio of scantily clad female dancers in camouflage and a couple of turntablists.

Snoop's hour-long set was heavy on his biggest hits, including "Gin & Juice," "Nothin' But A G Thang," "Beautiful" and "Drop It Like It's Hot." Leading the crowd in profanity-laden chants and sing-alongs, Snoop had his makeshift stagefront Dogg-pound grooving throughout and snapping cell phone pics.

Moving very unrhythmically in a Bodog.net cap to Snoop's "Who Am I? (What's My Name?)," a young man was moved enough to exclaim, "This is the highlight of my life!"

We couldn't be happier for the guy.

Correction: Celebrities and musicians appearing at "Bodog Salutes The Troops: A Tribute To American Heroes" concert and a Bodog.net sponsored poker tournament donated their time and talent for the events. A previous version of this story said they had been paid.