While eating dinner that night, my sister heard me telling my parents that I’m going to a comedy bar. She smiled and then she warned me about comedy bars. She told me that people get insulted and laughed at in those places. Whoever you are, how old, it doesn’t matter. So that evening, the first thing I thought upon entering Punchline Comedy Bar, “oh no, why are we heading towards the front seats.”
Punchline is located along the stretch of Quezon Avenue. It is very easy to locate, especially at night, since the bar simply outshines every establishment near it. Bright lights, music, crowded parking lot…everything builds up a lively atmosphere. I expected that there would be a lot of people in comedy bars. I knew for the fact that Quezon Ave. is a district that is a lot awake at night, especially after midnight, than in daylight. I’ve driven through that street past midnights more than once and always I couldn’t help but notice the crowded bars and strip clubs, and especially the groups of women scattered along the sidewalks looking for a “hitch.” But that’s just outside.
So comedy bars…first, what do you do in bars? I got there with my block mates some time around 9:30pm-10:00pm. It was simple, 300 bucks, and you’re good to enter. Seated right in front of the stage, right on the second row, we were in a line of chairs with small tables in front of us. There were only two groups of audiences in the first row, and I wouldn’t even wonder why. Two homosexual men, judging by how they dress and speak, took the stage when we arrived. So comedy bars…I thought it would be some sorts of stand up comedy like what I see in TV shows and on Youtube. Well, it was, I just didn’t expect it to be a “gay” comedy bar. I looked around the place. It was dark, only the stage were lighted, but obviously what I saw were groups of homosexual audiences, in groups, dating, chilling like it was their turf. Although, there were still groups of people, including us, who are excluded from that crowd. From that point on, I remembered my gay uncle from Amsterdam, that whenever he goes on vacation and visit here, he would go to “bars” almost every night and stay there all night. He must have gone to Punchline, I’m pretty sure of that. But now going back to the hosts/comedians, well there were a lot of them at the backstage since once in a while probably after the respective segments, another group or individual takes the stage. Hilarious. They were funny; they were throwing lines, gagging about all sorts of stuff that probably just pop out of their minds to entertain the crowd. But that’s also a bad thing, well in my opinion; I was scared for the fact that they threw very insulting words to describe not only themselves, but also mostly the people in the crowd. They try to spot anyone, anything and next thing is the people applauding and laughing. There were no limits to the insults. Fortunately in my case, the hosts overlooked me. I remember the group of gay men in front of us; one of them was celebrating his birthday. I infer that gay birthday celebrants usually celebrate with their barkadas in comedy bars. They had so many food and drinks for the night. The comedian noticing that, he exclaimed that audiences are somehow obliged to order something since it was a bar. I looked at my friend beside me and we had the same looks in our faces saying that we had to order something. Shame on those who just stay there to tambay. So there we were, drinking and listening to the show, we were part of the crowd.
As the show went on, more people would enter the place and I noticed that as it gets later at night, more and more people hang in Punchline. More laughs, more insults, and more laughs. I remember there was this one person from the group celebrating a birthday, who was really bombed by really harsh jokes. The comedians started by classifying them individually: one was the birthday boy, one was there only because of the free food, one looked really rich because of his eyeshades, and lastly, the panget. People at the back couldn’t even see his face but the delivery of the insult simply brought the house down. There was nothing that the guy could do, all he did was giggle and accept the insult. The show was also interactive with the people since they encourage their audience to join them on the stage and be a part of the segments. There was one woman who went up to sing, but before that, she was insulted by the comedians by describing her as “hipon.” Well, they were just stating the obvious and although it was a sensitive description, it was still funny. But that’s just one good thing about Punchline, any insult, any joke, you can’t take it personally against the comedians. It was their show, and they even disclaimed that the audience would hear really disturbing insults, jokes, and foul languages all night and it wouldn’t be their problem. It was oddly fair I guess. Everyone was equal in that bar. Homosexuals, old, and foreigners (since we had Korean classmates with us), we were all subject to insults. However, it wasn’t all about gagging and fooling around in Punchline. Different issues were also discussed by the comedians like ‘being gay,’ ‘speaking in English’ and ‘going abroad for work.’ The topics were discussed in a joking manner like when the comedians did the segment with one of them trying to prove how good he was in English, while the other tests him, but later on gets frustrated towards the end. In Punchline, the comedians were intellectual professionals who would be able to tackle different social issues that are present today. And that’s just great since the place is also an avenue for people who want to become good comedians and be known to all in the future. From what I know, Vica Ganda was actually discovered in Punchline.
It was indeed a happy and gay experience and the gay comedians just made it more exemplary ‘gay’. It was such a great experience to remember. That night, I got exhausted, but more importantly I got to just Laugh Out Loud. Definitely, it was different and although it’s a place crowded by homosexuals, I still think that all people should enjoy it since the place is where all are the same, all are to be hit by a “Punchline.”
SA 21 Q