That day, I made sure I’ll be fully awake at the night so I slept in the afternoon after arriving from my Battle of Bel Field experience in my History 18 class. It was February 18 when I had my first experience in a Comedy Bar.
It was 8PM when I left the house with our driver to go to Tomas Morato. On our way there, we would have our usual conversation talking about random things such as the news, my studies, our lives, etc. Eventually we started talking about where we were going. He would tell me stories about Tomas Morato on how great the night life would be there such as drinking, partying, bands and the like. I guess I won’t be able to relate well since I don’t really drink (alcohol that is). Eventually, our topic went to our specific destination which was Laffline Comedy Bar. He told me how my problems would be gone (at least temporarily) for the few hours that I would be there listening to the jokes that the performers would give. We arrived at the destination. I saw three of my classmates who eventually became my seatmates in the bar for the time that I was there. Here’s to my hopes of losing my problems for at least two to three hours.
Outside the bar was a big sign with listed names (or rather stage names) of performers for the night. Those that were assigned to make us laugh that night were Chokoleyt, Donita, Martin D Icon, Chiokla, Iyah, Jenny, and Pepay. I wasn’t able to finish watching all of them perform having to go home by 12AM. I was only able to watch Donita, Iyah, Jenny, Chiokla and Pepay.
The entrance fee was 300 pesos. At first I thought this was somewhat expensive because I thought it was just some place to eat with random performers. However, my mind changed as the program went through.
The place had a small stage that had spotlights focused on it. The rest of the bar was dimly lit to give that feel of a night life with some of the audience having “pulutan” and buckets of drinks (beer mostly). Beside the stage was the sound system. A Disc Jockey was there to operate the sound system which was also well coordinated with the performances of those who were currently on stage.
We were welcomed by the waiters and they asked us where we wanted to sit. There was an ongoing performance of jokes by 2 gay males and 1 female. Before I could even sit down, I already started laughing at the jokes.
The audience was composed of people from different age groups. Most of them were in their early 20’s to mid 30’s. Some were in their 40’s and 50’s. It surprised me though that there were actually children there. Most of the people were having a good time releasing their stress through the laughs, the drinks, the cigarettes etc. While we sat there, we watched the performers and there was no doubt that these people were exceptionally talented in stand-out comedy. Throughout the night, the performers exchanged turns in the stage.
Their jokes were usually those that were fit for the adolescent-adult listener. Some were green, some were criticizing different groups of people (such as Ateneans and La Sallians), some were just plain cursing while some were directed to themselves by making themselves act out funny scenarios that would surely make the audience laugh. Most of the girls were dressed “sexy.” I think this is so because the gay males would dress in the same way, so that the females can highlight the gay males’ “fashion.” This kind of presentation shows the males in tight leggings, mini-skirts, extreme make-up and other (supposedly) “seductive” womanly fashion. As much as I’ve learned already in SA21 that being gay is not something to be criticized, I think that the projection of the “what’s wrong in this picture?” concept is what the performers want to turn into humor. Knowing current Philippine society (at least basing from what I’ve observed for the years I have lived) this would definitely make the audience laugh.
Since the stage wasn’t too high and was near to some of the tables, I noticed that the performers would go down the stage and walk to the audience. They would interview different people as if they were put in a “hot-seat.” The performer usually asks where the certain person is from. They often expect people to be “balikbayans.” They also ask the person for his/her current age and the person’s occupation. After the personal information, the comedians would always find a way to turn the information the person gives into something that is funny. In a normal setting, this would embarrass the person badly, but we were in a comedy bar anyway so nothing personal, just all laughs and smiles. At that time, we were somewhat nervous because they might come to us and put us in the hot seat but when the night ended, it was only then that I realized that I wish we got picked.
Often times, these performers would usually speak in certain accents that are very unusual for the daily conversation. These accents somewhat make everything they say funnier. They exaggerate the pronunciation of the words they say to give double meaning to their statements. This is where the jokes directed to some groups come in such as “Conyo speak” (hitting on schools such as Ateneo and La Salle), Jejemons, Gay Lingo’s etc.
What I find impressive about these people is that they do not seem to run out of energy. Aside from cracking out jokes, they also laugh with it. They continuously laugh as if laughing was their drug or addiction. Laughing, as good as it feels, is also tiring at some point.
I remember my voice teacher told me one time when we were talking about Marcelito Pomoy that this “Pilipinas Got Talent” winner actually sounds like gay performers (when singing that is) in bars. I was curious about this for a long time and finally, my experience in Laffline comedy bar showed me this reality. The gay performers weren’t just talented in stand-out comedy but they also knew how to sing. They’re not as perfect sounding as usual stars we know of today, but one can’t deny their talent. Besides, singing “siren” songs or songs that contain high notes found in the higher octaves isn’t an easy job especially when you’re biological anatomy is that of a male, and everything is comedy in the first place. Juggling two kinds of performances into one is a really tough job. Having to talk and shout jokes all night all the more makes it harder for someone to sing and they’re capable of doing it. They proved themselves worthy of quality entertainment.
My favorite performance that night was that of Donita. She performed a parody of the OPM classic “Sinta.” In the original song, the lyrics showed a story of a couple’s love for each other through figurative language. In the parody however, the lyrics were changed to sexual words that pertained to the two actually seducing each other. It was funny because the new words really did fit the original words perfectly even for the melody. This song was a duet so the impressive part Donita showed was having sung both voices of the Guy and Girl.
This experience was undoubtedly great. By the morning of February 18, I was still a bit hesitant to go to the Comedy Bar because I felt lazy about it. However, the experience changed my point of view. I liked it. Well, no, I loved it. Given all the stress school and other personal problems give me, two to three hours of Laffline was worth it. From Chiokla and Pepay acting out an FHM photo shoot to Iyah doing his/her best to imitate Iya Villania; from Donita belting out the parody of Sinta to Pepay belting out to his/her own womanly hymns; every minute of the experience was worth it.
Tristan Joshua L. Peñarroyo 102973