Worried is probably the word that best sums up exactly what I felt prior to arriving at Punchline. I had a few fair reasons for this. For one, it’s the very idea of being made fun of in public. Personally, I often try to shy away from things that would put me under the burning glare of the spotlight. I was content with basically just being a wallflower or something to that effect. Now, here was a situation that whispered about the possibility that I wouldn’t just be under the spotlight but I’d be made fun of as well. I imagined it to be a horrifying situation to be trapped in.
Also, people had been telling me that I was more likely than not going to be facing gay comedians. It wasn’t that I had any anger towards the homosexual community. It was more like my interaction with some of them in the past made it difficult for me to be comfortable with them in general. Thus, I never really got used to being around them and their distinct brand of quirkiness.
Another thing I was a bit worried about was the environment. I’d never been to a comedy bar in my life. I’d only seen them while passing by streets the likes of Quezon Avenue and such. I had no idea what it would be like in there. This uncertainty I had didn’t help me feel more at ease about the imminent experience.
So now, I was looking at the potential to be made fun of under the harsh spotlight in front of everyone in an environment I had absolutely no idea about, and by a gay comedian. I could only imagine the sheer discomfort I would experience.
However, as my blockmates and I sat ourselves down and began to watch the comedians (yes, ALL of them were gay) at work, I noticed something – I was laughing like crazy. The comedians all really knew how to get a crowd going. Starting with pointing out who the cute guys in the audience were all the way to making complete fools out of each other, the comedians managed to put all my worries and fears to sleep.
I even managed to observe a few things during the whole show. There was this one part wherein they asked this OFW from Dubai to the stage. I noticed that the OFW kept trying to speak English the whole time and with an accent at that. Whether it was the result of being away from the country for too long or her wanting to impress everyone with her English, I wasn’t really sure. But after being made fun of time and time again as well as being asked to sing some cheesy songs, I was amused to find that she began to speak straight Filipino the rest of her time onstage. She also started to laugh along with the comedians. I specifically recall that she was even letting one of the comedians jokingly molest her. The soft English accent she’d been trying to show the whole time had now turned into a typically hard Filipino one. Amidst the jokes and all, it looked to me that she became herself.
The same could be said about the other audience members who were made to go onstage either to be made fun of or to sing their hearts out. They were sometimes, at least to me, harshly made fun of and yet they laughed it off and went on with the show. Unlike me, they didn’t let those things bother them. A stronger sense of self, probably? The point was, it seemed everyone was all out and bare under the spotlight. They were laughing while they were at it.
The comedians themselves were also completely themselves on stage. Not only were they open about their sexual orientation and their desire for men, they were making fun of each other intensely. One of them, the tall and heavy-built one in a dress, was made fun of for looking extremely mannish and for pretending to come from an “elite school” in the country. The jokes were often very direct at each of their own obvious “personal flaws” and yet they were having a laugh about it all.
It seemed to me that everyone in the comedy bar was a good sport. I wondered why these people had no qualms about being put under the spotlight like I did. The comedians did often say that no one should act pikon when made fun of since it was all part of the show that they were all paying for, but it seemed to me that everyone was game for it. I guess the people who were there no longer minded being made fun of in public since they were more exposed to that kind of stuff. In fact, they were paying for just that. They were paying for the chance to be made fun of and have a good laugh. Eventually, as I looked on and got more used to it all, I guess even I wouldn’t have minded being publicly grilled. In fact, at some point that night, I can even say I truly wanted to be made fun of like that if only for the experience that everyone else in the comedy bar seemed to be sharing.
by Raphael L. Dalusung, II BS M.E.