Once in a while, we definitely need to break away from all the stress and worries of our everyday life. This is a must if we want to maintain our sanity. In a world where all types of challenges and obstacles abound, people seek for a way out – a temporary escape from reality. Laughter provides this needed escape by allowing people to temporary forget their troubles and simply focus on having fun.
I arrived at Punchline Comedy Bar with a couple of my blockmates at around 9 pm. After paying for the Php 300 non-consumable entrance fee, we went inside and were ushered in by some men in black clothes. At first, we were directed to seats in front of the comedy bar; those seats were very near the stage. At the back of my mind, I kept thinking that sitting up close to the stage was both a good and bad idea. In a way, it was good since I would be able to have a nice view of the whole show. But worrisome thoughts lingered my mind as I recalled what my parents told me before I left home that night: “O Jen, you enjoy ha! But don’t sit in front as much as possible. 90% sure, they will call you on stage and look for every flaw they can find just to make fun of you.” That made me really nervous. I was not actually sure myself if I could handle that situation. I mean, I could take some criticisms lightly. I am not really the type of person who would break down and cry just because someone called me ugly. But I knew that in comedy bars, the intensity of criticisms thrown by hosts is so great that they seem to be very much inappropriate for the conservative and light-hearted. I shuddered as I imagined myself being poked fun at – the loud outburst of laughter was a frightening noise to my ears. Fortunately for me, we were able to transfer to a less conspicuous area near the right side of the stage just before the show started.
The show for that night featured renowned gay comedians Le Chazz Nightingale, Hans Mortel, Ace Aquino, Jeff Vazquez, Fudge de Jesus and guests, Anton Diva and Ethel Booba. It was apparent that there was a recurring formula for the entire show. This formula consisted of the following components:
(1) The very talented comedian hosts or representatives from the audience would perform a song number. Song requests linked to high tips were of course, prioritized.
(2) Hosts would scan the audience to look for someone interesting they could interview, call on stage or make fun of.
(3) Hosts would interact among themselves and crack all kinds of jokes about anything under the sun. Sound effects and bright, colorful lights add to the momentum of their stage presence.
The entire show involved the repetition and combination of these three components, but mind you, the show was not really that monotonous. I guess this could be attributed to the brilliance and spontaneity of the hosts. They seemed to be just having a good time while on stage but they effortlessly made the audience burst into laughter. From making witty comments to purposely degrading themselves to be funny and making a lot of green jokes, the hosts just made the night a fun-filled experience for everyone. They were also very confident of their homosexuality and did not hold back on making super green jokes and cursing. I believe this was since they were well aware that majority of the crowd were adults who already expected their humor to be green and offensive.
Aside from the Ateneans who were present that night for the field trip, a lot of people composed the audience; almost all of the seats in the comedy bar were actually occupied. There were about 3-4 big groups of mostly ladies who seemed to have chosen the bar as the venue for their girls’ night out. There were also a lot of balikbayans who seemed to want to celebrate the fact that they have returned to their homeland. Some couples, barkadas and middle-aged people who seemed to just want to de-stress and escape all their troubles from work also filled the tables. I could guess that all of these people belonged to either the middle or the upper class considering that the entrance fee was not really that cheap, the prices of the food and drinks on the menu were actually very high and there were people who gave big tips to the hosts. The fact that they were there and that most of them had some meals and drinks on their table reveals that they had the resources to at least cover these expenses.
I believe that what also made the night more enjoyable was the fact that the audience was very responsive to the hosts. As the hosts said at the beginning of the show, “Bawal po ang pikon dito.” Indeed, when the hosts called some people on stage, they played along with their jokes even though most of them were actually offensive. I was really amazed at how one middle-aged balikbayan woman took all the criticisms by the hosts when she was called on stage. The hosts constantly poked fun at her physical appearance, comparing her to a shrimp. “Para ka talagang hipon. Okay na talaga mula paa e, pero hanggang leeg lang. Tapos tapon na lang yung ulo.” But throughout her time on stage, she managed to maintain her confidence and just played along. Even the hosts commended her for her attitude.
My experience in Punchline Comedy Bar was a really memorable one. The dynamic interaction between the audience and the brilliant hosts who exemplified their loudness and creativity paved the way for the success of the night’s show. For one night, I allowed myself to be transported to a place where all my worries were non-existent and I just laughed my heart out. What a great way to break away!
Jennifer Conlu 100971