When I heard the words ‘comedy bar’ I thought it would be a few drinks, some friends and a few people up on stage cracking up some jokes. So I spent one of my Saturday nights at this very strange place called a comedy bar. It wasn’t really my top pick for a free evening. I’d rather be going out for a drink at a normal bar then me and my friends would provide the comedy. But my friends decided to go here so I tagged along and thought that maybe it wouldn’t be such a dull idea. Punchline was the name of the bar, and half of the experience was something that I had been expecting. But it wasn’t that dull after all. In fact, the other half of experience was actually quite surprising to say the least.
I’m usually terrible at interpreting jokes in Filipino and I don’t get the humor very often mainly because I’m new to Manila, I’ve never watched a Filipino film or series out of my own free will or that I really just don’t understand what the words mean. I didn’t expect to ‘laugh my ass off’ and I just wanted to go through the night and chat with my friends like we would at a normal bar and maybe glance at the stage once in a while. Turns out, that wasn’t gonna work. My voice was drowned out by the mic which made making casual conversation quite impossible. So instead the battle plan for the night was to stick close to someone and ask questions about what they were saying. And try to see if I got anything.
Now about the comedy here. Actually, I was surprised. Aside from the fact that pretty much all of it’s in Filipino, insulting people to their face and making fun of each other is a pretty good way to spark up some laughter. It was my first time inside a comedy bar and for one thing, during that night, my vocabulary of vulgar Filipino words greatly increased. There were tons and tons of green jokes, and although I couldn’t understand half of them I could tell that they were from the “If you know what I mean” looks of everyone around me. I didn’t really get most of it at first, but after a couple of quick questions about the meanings of certain words, I found myself laughing along with the crowd and actually enjoying myself
But the night was just getting started, because not only was the comedy limited to insults and erotica, at one point in the show it they were talking about things I actually could understand. It was all about this one guy acting stupid and not knowing how to speak English so well. He kept drawing puns from the taunts and questions of the other guy. The jokes during this segment ranged from the really smart and witty to jokes that were absurdly stupid that you just had to laugh at them. The performers were very talented and I find it pretty amazing how these people can think up so many smart, funny jokes in that short span of time.
Another cool thing that added to the laughter was the sound. I realized that the punchline wouldn’t have sounded as great without the upbeat tusgh-tugsh music that played immediately after. I thought it complemented the act really well, because it got you pumped up and willed you even more to explode in laughter.
What also surprised my aside from the outrageous price of beer and food was that apart from blasting us with these blunt, in-your-face jokes about your race, gender or body size, was that these guys sing! I thought the first one was gonna be some comedic song or just a onetime thing, but after the second one I found it very unusual for people to be singing songs with no comedic value whatsoever inside a comedy bar. I don’t know I just found that funny and I was also amazed at how these guys can sing so well. They even get tipped in the thousands for a song. Quite a lot if you think about it.
So like I said, half of it was exactly what I expected but I can tell you I was definitely wowed by the other half. True I didn’t get the gist of most of the jokes at the beginning, but with a little beer and a few good friends beside me helping interpret, my total apathy when it came to these things turned in to hearty laughter and an appreciation for how these guys can pull of a show like this. All in all, I’d say it was an okay night, not a bad way to spend my Saturday night after all.
Joshua R. de Luzuriaga