I wasn’t THAT interested in Laughter in Waikiki when it was first announced. Probably because I haven’t seen School 2017 or Age of Youth so most of the male actors didn’t particularly rouse me to take note of it. (And Lee Yi-kyung was funny in Go Back Spouses but I wasn’t about to watch a show solely for him.) But as promos trickled in and photos of Go Won-hee (Strongest Deliveryman) surfaced, I found myself suddenly getting curious and excited. The final nail to the coffin was when I watched the six-minute trailer unsubbed, understanding nothing, yet so ready for what the show would give me. So here I am. Read on for a recap on what happened in episode 1 and my thoughts on the premiere! (Gifs by rinny at Dramabeans! Thank you so much for allowing me to use them!)
Reasons for Watching
1. This drama season feels so dour and serious. I’m still more of a rom-com girl and the pickings this cycle are leaning on non-romcoms. I need my comedy! The teasers were so fun that I went from not interested to excited about this drama.
2. I love kids and any show with kids and I remember having so much fun watching Three Dads, One Mom before. Clueless guys and a baby is always fun.
3. Support for Go Won-hee!
We open into a pigsty, oh, I mean, a dirty apartment after a night of drinking, with a young man sleeping on a sofa. His butt ends up on an opened tube of what seems like wasabi, which ends up in the open mouth of the guy sleeping on the floor beside him. He bolts awake, disgusted by the taste, and rushes for water. He grabs the first bottle he sees but ends up spewing it when he realizes there’s something in the water. THERE WERE SMALL FISHES IN THE WATER. And you’ve already got me laughing, Show. This is Kang Dong-gu (Kim Jung-hyun). He answers a call, drunkenly and groggily, but gets his shit together when he’s informed that their water will be cut off as they haven’t paid their utility bills. The guy on the sofa rouses up and this is Bong Doo-shik (Son Seung-won) and Dong-gu informs him that their water will be cut off… right about now. And who goes out of the bathroom but a bubbled up Lee Jun-ki (Lee Yi-kyung), mad at being pranked like this, telling them to turn on the water. Sorry buddy, but it looks like your shampoo will sting your eyes forever.
Jun-ki blames Dong-gu for not paying their water bill, as he’s the CEO and it’s his responsibility. Dong-gu puts back the blame on Jun-ki as he previously said that their guesthouse will rake in money. Jun-ki becomes sheepish, saying that it’s not his fault that the THAAD is affecting tourism. (Political issue alert! Wow, I’m amazed.) Dong-gu is at his wits’ end because they’re drowning in debt. Jun-ki tries to calm Dong-gu, telling him that they’re three guys, for sure they can earn 420 dollars. Doo-shik agrees and says that things can’t get any worse than this. (DON’T TEMPT FATE!) He asks Dong-gu to try and be positive, which seems like a sore point with the pessimistic Dong-gu because he bursts into indignation and anger. Jun-ki placates the heckled and scared-bunny Doo-shik, who ended up tearing up when Dong-gu berated him for asking him to be positive. By opening his towel and doing a show. HAHAHA I LOVE THEM ALREADY
Dong-gu stews inside his room, that is, until he hears what seems like a baby. He then finds a baby inside his closet and he ends up screaming for his friends.
Jun-ki scoffs, it’s just a baby doll, but then they check it and IT MOVES! IT MAKES SOUNDS! WE HAD EYE CONTACT! Is making eye contact with a baby akin to making eye contact with a ghost now, Jun-ki?
Their we-are-fucked faces had me laughing, along with that cheeky score of silent despair/sadness playing and that zoom out panning.
The boys discuss the situation while kneeling in front of the baby. How did the baby end up here? Is it a guest? But we haven’t had guests in a long time! Even Jun-ki, who didn’t drink because he has a shoot today, doesn’t remember anything. They check out the bag the baby came with but there’s nothing in there. The baby then starts crying and they all panic on what to do, which ends up in Dong-gu rummaging under the baby and finding poop on his hands. HAHAHA
Armed with gloves now, Dong-gu acts as if he’s about to perform a critical surgery. Pulling down the baby’s diaper, he covers it up immediately after sneaking a peek. Jun-ki asks if it’s full of poop but Dong-gu stammers and says it’s because the baby is a girl. And even if she’s a baby, he thinks it doesn’t seem right to change her diapers. YOU ARE CUTE. Jun-ki chides him that he’s such a gentleman and hits him in the head, telling him to just change the damn diaper! Dong-gu prefaces with an apology and when he opens the diaper, they all gag at the sight. After cleaning the baby up and changing her diaper as if it’s an emergency, Dong-gu comments that it’s easy. That is until sounds of pooping emerge from the baby and Dong-gu just yells for wet wipes.
The baby is still crying, even after being fed. Dong-gu wants to report the baby to the police, but Doo-shik and Jun-ki stop him because maybe a guest left the baby to take a walk or something. Dong-gu stands up to stretch his back and ends up bouncing the baby, which stops the baby’s crying. He then sits back down but the baby cries again so he’s forced to keep on bouncing and cradling the baby. Jun-ki and Doo-shik promptly leaves him with the baby when he asks to be relieved of bouncing it up and down. Dong-gu then gets a call from Soo-ah, asking to meet now.
We change scenes into a photoshoot of a model, who gets a text from the bank asking her to pay her loan immediately. This is Min Soo-ah (Lee Joo-woo). Dong-gu (with the baby!) arrives and he’s happy to see Soo-ah. But Soo-ah suddenly wants to break up with him, which comes out of left field for Dong-gu. She even breaks up with him with a smile! He asks why and she says that it’d take four days to explain everything so they should just end it. Dong-gu is all, tell me woman, I need to know. So Soo-ah lists it down. He’s immature, incompetent, and she can’t see a bright future ahead of him. She then lists it ALL down, not stopping, that is until Dong-gu stops her with the 99th reason. He asks if she ever loved him and she says yes, but love isn’t enough to be together. They give up their couple rings and break up. I love that all throughout this scene, Dong-gu was bouncing the baby up and down.
Jun-ki arrives for his shoot today and approaches the staff hyung who helped him get this role, asking if he’ll be paid right after the shoot. They say hi to Park Sung-woong (he cameos as himself, probably as a favor to the PD, who’s the PD of Man to Man), who just keeps on pointing at him, not saying anything. Park Sung-woong then leaves and Jun-ki is understandably confused. His sunbae/hyung tsk-tsks at him, disappointed that he didn’t understand that Park Sung-woong was complimenting his eyes! Apparently, Park Sung-woong doesn’t talk but gets irritated when people don’t understand him.
They shoot the scene but Sung-woong stops the shoot, and points to Jun-ki. And keeps on pointing. But Jun-ki can’t understand him and Sung-woong ends up frustrated and walks out of the set. The director is upset and mad at Jun-ki for not understanding Park Sung-woong. Jun-ki’s hyung/sunbae explains that Park Sung-woong wanted him to step back, and gets frustrated at him.
I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THIS RECAP ANYMORE, I AM LAUGHING SO HARD. HAHAHAHA Jun-ki’s look of confusion is for the books.
Doo-shik walks home, irritated that his boss didn’t allow him to get an advanced pay. He worries about what he’s gonna tell Dong-gu, when he sees Jun-ki walking, wondering how to interpret Park Sung-woong’s actions. Doo-shik clocks in Jun-ki’s mood and asks about his shoot with Park Sung-woong and Jun-ki relates his experience. Jun-ki demonstrates Park Sung-woong’s pointing, asking Doo-shik if he understands that. FUNNILY, Doo-shik does! He says that it’s pretty obvious that that meant step back. He chides him for being slow-witted but honestly, I’m with Jun-ki on this one.
They get back to the guesthouse, with a down and quiet Dong-gu. He informs them that Soo-ah broke up with him. Doo-shik doesn’t get it but Jun-ki says that it’s obvious as Soo-ah’s probably being pressured to marry already and Dong-gu is not a viable option. They ask him how it went down and Dong-gu tells them he accepted it and even threw his ring. He shouldn’t have, says the two, as gold is expensive these days and they could use it to pay for the water bill. Jun-ki suggests finding it but Dong-gu stops him and asks if they asked around for money, and Doo-shik and Jun-ki evade his question.
Dong-gu wants to report the baby to the police but the two doofuses say they feel bad for the baby and they should wait one more day. Dong-gu tells them they should take care of the baby too if that’s what they want and asks them to relieve him of bouncing duties because his head is spinning. He turns around and they run for the hills! Dong-gu runs after them (baby in tow of course) and yells that he’ll smash their door with a hammer, just they wait. They then open the door to reveal that they have the hammer (they know him so well!) and closes it when he approaches again. HAHAHA
Dong-gu falls asleep by the room’s door and wakes up to find them already gone. He then gets a call that their electricity will be cut off this week too. He muses on what to do and the baby looks at the direction of his finger without the ring. He mentions that he has his pride but another look at his hand makes him decide to just find the ring. Soo-ah is not at the studio so he goes ahead looking for the ring, which is when Soo-ah arrives. Dong-gu stammers that he has something to ask her when she asks why he’s here and he then asks her when does she think THAAD will end. HAHAHA Soo-ah is incredulous that he came over the studio to ask that and Dong-gu reasons out that they might have been broken up, but they’re still both citizens of South Korea and they can discuss diplomatic issues of the country together. I LOVE HIM, YOU GUYS.
He then walks around looking for his ring and finds it on a plant pot, with a hallelujah background sound playing. He’s about to reach for it when Soo-ah stops him and asks him that shouldn’t they talk about the North Korean nuclear issue first? Soo-ah mentions an actual political and diplomatic point of action and Dong-gu visibly doesn’t understand it but bides his time and engages her to think and talk until he gets the ring. Extraction done.
He then rushes to the jewelry shop, not realizing he left his phone. HE JUST GRABBED THE RING, ALONG WITH SOIL, A WHILE AGO. I’M DYING HERE. Soo-ah follows him to the shop, seeing him trying to sell their couple ring. He feels bad about it but tries to appeal to her because they don’t have money to pay for their water bill. Soo-ah then gives him her ring too, to sell and help with their utility bills. Soo-ah leaves after bringing him his phone too. Ouch, that should hurt.
Park Sung-woong keeps on pointing backstage, telling a story, and everyone laughs at his anecdote. But Jun-ki just looks so perplexed, not understanding anything.
Jun-ki then approaches Park Sung-woong and apologizes for not understanding him yesterday and Sung-woong answers him with his pointing gestures. Jun-ki doesn’t understand but assumes that he’s being forgiven so he says thank you. Sung-woong then pats him at the back and leaves, whilst the sunbae/hyung praises Jun-ki for understanding him and getting the hang of it now. HAHAHA
They shoot the scene and Jun-ki thanks Park Sung-woong and he answers with his pointing and Jun-ki just assumes he’s being complimented so he thanks him again… AND HE’S RIGHT. HAHAHA I don’t know about you but I think this premiere is worth watching just for Park Sung-woong’s cameo.
Park Sung-woong is treating them to beef! He then makes a toast (with that gesture above) and Jun-ki thinks it means cheers so he drinks, but HE’S WRONG THIS TIME! Hahaha! Park Sung-woong and Jun-ki end up in the bathroom and Sung-woong gestures that Jun-ki has a grain of rice on his cheek but he doesn’t understand it. OH NO, Park Sung-woong looks like he’s getting mad.
I’M CRYING WAIT. I’m actually recapping as I’m watching so good lord, it’s so damn hard when I’m in stitches. Jun-ki braces for it and KISSES PARK SUNG-WOONG ON THE CHEEK, thinking that that’s why he’s pointing to his own cheek. HAHAHA
Wait, a gif isn’t enough. I present to you, THE WHOLE SCENE.
At home, Jun-ki hits his head again and again on the table and Dong-gu informs Doo-shik that it’s because Jun-ki wouldn’t be able to act anymore, after kissing Park Sung-woong. Dong-gu is also sad because of Soo-ah catching him trying to sell his ring. Doo-shik gets excited because this means they have money now! But alas, Dong-gu didn’t actually sell their rings as he couldn’t. The mood turns pensive and Dong-gu says that they should just give up with this guesthouse business. Doo-shik disagrees. They have to continue! How about their dream of earning money to make a film that will be screened in the Cannes Film Festival? Dong-gu becomes realistic and pragmatic, saying that they should wake up and be thankful that they’re even alive. They decide on bringing the baby to the police but first, they’re gonna feed her.
They go to the supermarket to buy formula and there’s only one left. Dong-gu puts it down first, which is when another woman tries and gets it. They get into an argument and play tug-of-war with the formula. Another lady sides with the woman and tells Dong-gu to just give it up, they’re young. He then feels indignant about this treatment and rants that they tried their best, but they failed and the world didn’t help them out. They’re not even talking about the baby but the guesthouse, saying that they repainted and designed it all by themselves. They’re shouting now that they can give up everything else, except this formula milk. HOW TO GO ON RECAPPING, I’M CRYING ACTUAL TEARS OF LAUGHTER.
They go back home, triumphant with getting the milk, in all their backlit glory ala Goblin and Reaper. Doo-shik and Jun-ki parody some movie (I wish I knew more Korean movies!) and Dong-gu breaks the moment, asking if they’re shooting a movie. They talk to the baby, telling her that she should never forget how they fought for her milk. A group of foreign girls coo at the baby and they’re conveniently looking for a guesthouse to stay in. Jun-ki invites them to stay at their guesthouse and the group is so happy to have a lot of guests tonight. They muse that the baby brings them good luck.
Jun-ki baby talks the baby and Dong-gu asks him to stop by yelling, making the baby cry. They go out to get the milk and they leave the baby alone. WHY??? They wonder why did the baby’s parents leave her and when they go back, the baby’s gone, and sees a hooded intruder with the baby running. They give chase and there’s an action sequence complete with frozen frames and all that.
Jun-ki ends up catching the kidnapper and then sees that she’s a woman. He then becomes starry-eyed and introduces himself, forgetting that this lady kidnapped the baby. This is Han Yoon-ah (Jung In-sun).
Apparently, she’s the baby’s mother and the baby’s name is Sol. Dong-gu doesn’t feel pity towards Yoon-ah, asking why did she leave her baby if she’s going to cry that much. Jun-ki, smitten, offers his shoulder to cry on. Doo-shik then asks questions but Yoon-ah just ends up crying more, frustrating Dong-gu. Just answer so they can take her home! After apologizing, Yoon-ah says she’ll leave but they stop her, asking her if she’s got a place to stay. Doo-shik offers her to stay in their house, at Seo-jin’s room, as she’s currently in the library and will not be back until tomorrow. Yoon-ah refuses, not wanting to trouble them anymore, but Jun-ki dismisses her worries, saying that Dong-gu is upset because he just broke up with his girlfriend. Dong-gu walks away, mad that he had to bring that up.
Speaking of Kang Seo-jin (Go Won-hee), Dong-gu’s younger sister, she sleepily comes back home and even hits a wall while walking with her eyes closed. She goes inside her room and gets a surprise when she finds a lady sleeping on her bed. She screams in horror, thinking her a thief, and the three guys rush to her help. Seeing that there’s no thief or fire, Dong-gu leaves, while Jun-ki and Doo-shik explain who Yoon-ah is but get distracted seeing Seo-jin in just a sports bra. To which she screams bloody murder.
Yoon-ah is sorry for the trouble and Seo-jin tells her it’s okay, while being mad at her brother for not even calling and informing her of the situation. Jun-ki tells Seo-jin to sleep with Yoon-ah first but Seo-jin whispers to Dong-gu that she can’t sleep with others. Left with no choice, Seo-jin accepts her fate. Huh, couldn’t sleep with others? More like, no one would be able to sleep with her because Seo-jin moves a lot. The sequence of their sleeping positions gave me a chuckle.
Breakfast time! Seo-jin rants to them that it’s so uncomfortable sleeping with a stranger, especially when the kid cries and the mother snores. She gets into it but Jun-ki motions her to stop but it’s too late, Yoon-ah heard it. Awkward. Yoon-ah says goodbye and thanks them for letting her stay last night, but Doo-shik, the softest ever, invites her to stay longer since she has no place to go. Dong-gu is against this and Yoon-ah says she doesn’t want to bother them anymore so Doo-shik just invites her for breakfast. She’s turning it down, saying she’s not hungry, when her stomach rumbles, and she can’t reject them anymore.
Yoon-ah eats a lot and happily at that, while Dong-gu and Seo-jin look on. Doo-shik comes outside because the baby’s crying and gives Sol back to Yoon-ah. Thinking Sol must be hungry, Yoon-ah proceeds to breastfeed her right then and there, shocking everyone as they race out of the dining room and huddle together.
Problem: Sol isn’t sucking on. Yoon-ah rejects their offer of making formula milk since Sol has a weak immune system and needs to be breastfed. However, she doesn’t have a pump machine and is at a standstill.
The confusion on everyone’s faces and all the trying not to look at the breast, and the zippy editing make this scene so fun! Jun-ki asks her what is that and she promptly faces them, baby and breast exposed, and they continue to avert their eyes.
They ask her where they can buy that and she says that baby stores have them but they’re quite expensive. No problem! They’ll buy it! Just so this public breastfeeding will stop! They all leave but Seo-jin is literally forced to stay. Dong-gu and Jun-ki go to the store (Doo-shik to a part-time job) to find this pump machine. They get distracted and curious by all the items though and a saleslady helps them and explains the products in there, things the guys don’t want to ever learn. Like how breast pockets work. HAHAHA
It’s awkward back at the guesthouse so Seo-jin tries to make small talk with Yoon-ah, commenting that the baby is handsome, but Yoon-ah corrects her that she’s a girl. Ooohh, a boyish girl will be loved by her father very much, but Yoon-ah tells her that she’s broken up with Sol’s father. Okay, Sol’s grandparents must love her, says Seo-jin. But Yoon-ah tells her that her grandparents are dead. Seo-jin just gives up on trying to make the air less awkward. At the store, the saleslady is still explaining everything to Dong-gu and Jun-ki and they end up walking out of the store in a daze.
Dong-gu sees Soo-ah walk by and hides, while Jun-ki tells him to just go up to her and beg her to get back together. Unless he wants to live with regret keeping his pride. Dong-gu is about to to talk and beg Soo-ah, but another man comes and apologizes for being late. Soo-ah is all smiles to the guy, which breaks Dong-gu’s heart. They’re about to go his way so he hides his face how? By falling to the ground. The guy asks him if he’s okay but he just grunts in response since he can’t show his face.
Jun-ki brings back the pump machine at the guesthouse and Yoon-ah promptly uses it. But no milk is coming out and Yoon-ah mentions that she might need a milk massager session. Jun-ki calls someone to ask how much is that, which amounts to over a hundred dollars. They can’t afford that but Jun-ki can’t seem to sit still and see Yoon-ah in pain. So he suggests that Seo-jin should just massage it. Seo-jin is understandably against it.
Dong-gu is still on the ground, refusing to get up. They call an ambulance to pull him up and the paramedics try and lift him but Dong-gu resists. Dong-gu, so embarrassed at the moment, stands up and runs, covering his face with his shirt but since he doesn’t see anything, he ends up running in a circle and comes right back to the ambulance and Soo-ah. When he discovers this, he runs back again and ends up tripping on a bench. He gets up and trips yet again. And again. And again. HAHAHAHAHA
I think it’s in the blood, acting like there’s a critical surgery going on. Seo-jin, armed with gloves, goes to massage Yoon-ah’s breast. Doo-shik comes back from his part-time job and sees the pump machine, curious what it is. Seo-jin goes out of the room, her hair all wet. Jun-ki asks if she succeeded and Seo-jin, with the light out of her eyes, said she did and isn’t it obvious with how wet she is, it was like she hit an oil well. They then go looking for the pump machine because Yoon-ah can use it now. They then catch Doo-shik using the pump to cup massage his back. HAHAHA
Dong-gu is back, tired from this long day. He asks if Yoon-ah and Sol already left, to which Doo-shik says that they did. Jun-ki comments how suddenly quiet it is now that they’re gone (and the guests are on the rooftop having a party), and Seo-jin wonders how’s Yoon-ah. Dong-gu turns suspicious of them, knowing that they’re hiding something from him. Which is when a baby’s cries are heard. They pretend they didn’t hear anything but Yoon-ah goes outside of the room and asks Seo-jin to help massage her breasts once again. Jun-ki pretends that that’s not Yoon-ah and Dong-gu suddenly starts hitting Jun-ki, with Doo-shik and Seo-jin stopping the fight. They implore him to be compassionate and help Yoon-ah out. Yoon-ah looks over and watches them with a bit of shock and surprise, like they’re mad.
The animal sounds (and the sound effects in general) reminds me of Because This Life is Our First, which is a good thing and it’s so fitting for the show. There was a mooing sound when beef was being grilled, and the puppy sounds are cute! The horror/thriller suspense score when Dong-gu was about to discover the baby had me laughing too. I love the humor in this one because it’s a bit on-the-nose but not too slapstick. The jokes are in so many levels. We have an aspiring actor sharing a name with a superstar in Lee Jun-ki. We have all the sound effects. The parodies. The baby shenanigans. The randomness of that Park Sung-woong cameo and bit. GOOD LORD I LOVE IT ALL
The coloring is warm, which sets the tone of the show, and is very apt for its title. It evokes warmth and joy, with the soft lighting, as if you’re on vacation in Hawaii.
There seems to be no direct plot to this one but this slice-of-life story works well because Laughter in Waikiki feels very much like a sitcom, with all the hilarious scenes, stitched along quite nicely. I can’t count how many times I laughed so hard while watching and I hope this zippy pace continues. I already adore our characters although I’m not yet sold on Yoon-ah. The preview didn’t help because she looked so lightheaded and clueless? But let’s give her a chance since I just went on a rant earlier today about beta males being loved but beta females being hated. I do like how she’s both shy and not, so while she feels like she’s a bother, she also knows that she needs all the help she could get. Sol the baby is adorable! So far, Soo-ah seems to be the least that I know of the characters, but I have a feeling that she also has depth so I’m looking forward to that.
The guys are nailing their roles and honestly, everyone brings their A game into their acting. Kim Jung-hyun is so shouty with a bit of an anger management issue but he’s also kind and down-to-earth and lovable, and while I haven’t seen School 2017, I think his role in here is far from his role in there. Lee Yi-kyung is funny and his myriad of facial expressions are spot-on. Son Seung-won is so in character that I’m finding it hard to believe that he’s also the tsundere guy from Age of Youth. Go Won-hee is already winning me, as usual. Her performance in here is far from her character in Strongest Deliveryman so I’m happy that she’s not just rehashing a previous performance. Jung In-sun’s facial expressions are so apt for the slightly clueless mother.
I’M JUST HAVING SO MUCH FUN!
VERDICT: I’M IN LOVE. See you every week? I don’t think I can do detailed recaps like this one for every episode (it took me four hours to do this one) but I will probably post reactions to every episode or every two episodes. I didn’t even know I needed this drama but it’s so funny. MORE HIJINKS PLEASE! I already adore the characters, the baby is so cute, and I’m just excited to see where this one goes.