Andrew Jackson Bumatai, 28, has been selling Hawaii to tourists for seven years. First he hawked coconuts in the country, then leis at Honolulu Airport. Since 1976 he's been merchandising humor as the 50th state's best-known stand-up comic. The son of a Hawaiian-Filipino soldier who married his French-German wife while based in Europe, Bumatai became an ace office copier salesman by the age of 21. He wore spiffy three-piece suits and drove his two Mercedeses on alternate days. But while touring Waikiki nightspots with clients, Andy noticed "there were no stand-up comedians in town, just guys who did jokes between singing The Hawaiian Wedding Song and Beyond the Reef. I knew I could fill the void." He chucked his job, supported himself as an airport peddler and made an amateur-night comic debut in a pizzeria: "I was hooked off the stage, but not before I got my first laugh." Thus inspired, Andy honed his act in small clubs, delighting audiences by lampooning Hawaii's multiethnic makeup. Now, with five comedy albums and two local TV specials behind him, he has a six-figure salary and a five-year contract at the showcase Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Next month he hopes to go national, hosting a live syndicated series, Viewer's Choice Beauty Pageant, in which call-in voters select weekly winners in swimsuit and personality competitions.
Emily Mitchell, 28, played a song of thanks in a West Side Manhattan police station in February. Four days earlier a van containing her $16,000 concert harp had been stolen as she was ending a six-week nationwide tour with the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra of Israel. "I was in shock," she recalls. "I cried bitter tears." But New York's Finest recovered the instrument among other stolen goods. Overjoyed, she picked it up at the station house and serenaded the officers with Danny Boy. The Texas-born daughter of a businessman and a teacher, Emily was the 1979 winner of the prestigious International Harp Competition in Jerusalem. She started playing late, at the age of 12, then went on to graduate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. and England's Royal College of Music. In 1978 she performed for the Queen Mother, and the past two Christmas Eves she has appeared on the Today show, accompanying flutist James Galway. Though she is primarily a solo performer, her private life will become a duet next month when she weds trumpeter Lewis Soloff, 38, formerly with rock's Blood, Sweat and Tears and now into jazz. "We plan," laughs Emily, "to live the rest of our lives making beautiful music together."