Last February 25, 2012, I spent my Saturday night a bit differently. Rather than going to usual night-out joints or spending it at home, I had to head north to Quezon Ave. to visit Punchline, a pretty popular comedy bar, with my classmates for a field trip. When I looked up punch line in my dictionary app, I got “the sentence, statement, or phrase (as in a joke) that makes the point.” I was looking forward to see if they could knock me out with their humor and give the name justice.
As I entered the place, there was loud pop music playing it was just how I expected. There was a bar, a small stage, some tables and chairs. The place didn’t look bad but it seemed just worth the 300 bucks I had to pay for the entrance fee. After surveying the place, I noticed that the audience were of the lower middle class more or less (not considering familiar faces which made up about half the audience). My friends and I took a spot in the corner near the stage when the show was about to start.
Just as I suspected, all the comedians I’ve watched in my two hours of stay were gay. I’m not quite sure why we Filipinos find gay men humorous to the point that it has become a stereotype. Maybe it’s their tactlessness or how they aren’t afraid to blatantly make fun of people. The comedians would right there and then tease whoever they have set their eyes to. For starters, they interacted with the audience by inspecting them one-by-one, checking out who looked gwapo and making it very clear that they had no interest whatsoever in guys they thought were pangit. The comedians threw a lot of green jokes as well, jokes that would be extremely inappropriate if it would be shared outside of the comedy bar. They would also insert random cusses in between their jokes to make it extra funny. Afterwards, they were eyeing people who looked rich and jokingly asked for money, trying to see if any member of the audience was generous. True enough, jokes are half meant, maybe even meant completely. Although I haven’t seen it first hand, some people who go to these comedy bars really do give cash to the comedians out of generosity. The comedians also made fun of people who looked poor in the audience, the ones who looked like they couldn’t pay for the tab. They also taunted the groups who didn’t have any food on their table, joking about how it isn’t a free show and that they should try the good-tasting pulutan they offer.
Being a member of the audience, I had to prepare myself to be tolerant of the jokes and insults the comedians might throw at me, but thankfully none came my way. If you’re easily angered by people mocking you, then it would be best to stay away from comedy bars. For the whole duration of my stay, I didn’t notice anyone who was too sensitive to take the mockery seriously.
Three people, aside from the comedians, went up the stage. The first one was Lee, one of my blockmates. The gay comedians by impulse could not pass up the opportunity to get a good looking guy up the stage with them. The second guy was an Indie film actor who wanted to showcase his vocals. It turns out that he wasn’t a very good singer and he just ended up provoking a comedian to make fun of him. A 40 year old lady took the stage next. Being the center of attention, she also had to be the subject of ridicule as well. Tons of slurs were thrown at her but she was still able to keep her cool. She even attempted to act mataray when the comedians made fun of her. I’m pretty sure it was borderline harassment. I had no idea whether I should laugh out loud or feel bad for her but in the end, it was all good.
Another reason we find gay comedians could be their knack for acting. The part I found most comical was when two of the comedians were in an argument. One of them acted ridiculously slow and the other, supposedly smarter one, just threw out witty remarks to prove how stupid the other one is. I won’t bother jotting down excerpts of their argument because it won’t be as funny. Aside from acting, the comedians also sang. They even choose songs which show off their exceptional voices. These people didn’t look like they had so much talent in them.
And what could be more hilarious (and not to mention creepier) than a man wearing a dress? I can’t think of any sane sober straight man who would dress as feminine as most of the comedians I’ve watched that night. One of them was wearing a long blue dress. Another was wearing a pink shirt with a bow-tie and a number of them were wearing outrageously skinny jeans and boots. These comedians are too confident for words, which in this case is a good thing. Their wit, stage presence and delivery might just be the reason why we are so fond of their humor.
Watching the comedians do their thing was an entertaining experience, more entertaining than I expected. It’s easy to forget your problems and even the outside world when you’re inside the comedy bar. You just need a couple bottles of beer, lively music, and excruciatingly hilarious comedians and you’re good to go. I had a worthwhile experience and hopefully it won’t be the last.
Ernest Pracale 103023