The thing about a joke is it really isn’t funny until you get it. Even a simple witty remark requires a fleeting moment of pause to process it before you could let out a string of laughter. And what’s great about a joke is it amuses so many people, at the expense of one and it should not be taken personally.
I’d heard a lot of jokes, probably more than my stomach could take, the first time I went to the comedy bar in Punchline along Quezon Ave. The place appeared like a typical bar – dim with all the colorful lights, packed with people and a massive amount of humor, and the gay comedians who were the stars of the night. Since it was my first time, I had to prep myself days before the trip so I’d know what to expect. I asked some of my blockmates, who went in an earlier schedule, how the place was and if the experience was fun. I also asked my friend who has gone to the exact bar, only to be disappointed when she said it wasn’t even funny. Both responses were negative and because of that, I lost the feeling of excitement I usually have during my first-times. So my expectations were low – I’ve anticipated for it to be annoying and unimpressive. But lo and behold, all my presumptions and prejudices about the place and experience proved wrong when I got to sit down and focus my attention on the comedians. It was so funny and I was laughing so hard that I had to catch my breath and restrain myself from slapping the persons beside me.
Their jokes, for the most part, were really hilarious and I had a good time listening to the two gay comedians arguing. I especially enjoyed the part when their jokes were school-related and had to do with the colleges in the Philippines. They also joked about some people in the audience, giving derogatory remarks and obnoxiously commenting on basically anything about them – their reactions, physical appearance, etc. Moreover, during the first part, they mostly talked about green jokes and repugnant punch lines, which I personally found really disturbing and disgusting. However, the audience seemed to be entertained by the way they put on a funny show. These observations made me think about the distinct and varying kinds of humor people have. Clearly it made a difference as to how I reacted on the change of theme of their jokes. I can relate to them when they talked about the school related topics and it was the peak of my active participation in amplifying the sounds of laughter. On the other hand, I didn’t get to enjoy when they started their green jokes. I assumed that the comedians shifted into these specific topics because they consider and acknowledge the kind of audience they have. Since a number of us were students, they put on a show that we’d most likely enjoy.
In addition to that thought, I also noticed how indifferently people reacted when the comedians are picking them on. Despite the fact that nothing said is to be taken personally and ugly comments are only made for the benefit of humor, I’m impressed by how these people can keep up their nonchalant façade and still go with the flow of things (especially to that 30-year old woman whom they were scrutinizing on the stage that I really felt bad for her, although she handled it well). I’ve thought how these instances can actually build one’s character. A person’s self-esteem can be developed in ways that stating bluntly in-your-face his or her flaws can make him/her resilient to these comments and that s/he will not overreact. What about that, character development in a comedy bar. Lol.
Since perspective is the most noted concept in SA21, it occurred to me that in general, Filipinos are very fond of “green jokes” which is termed only by us. Fond might be an exaggeration of the word, but these kinds of joke clearly make us laugh at the instant they are told. I haven’t actually thought what’s in green jokes that makes them so funny, but I’ve asked some of my friends and they told me that maybe because imagining it makes it funny, or it’s not actually green until you think of it that way, or maybe because it makes you think and then realize that there’s truth to it. Jokes indeed have the slightest hint of truth in it, only that it is crafted in a way to make people laugh. And the idea of perspective relates in the way you see this certain joke – either as what it literally means, or just the twisted truth – and how you react to it. I’m really not sure what’s in green jokes that make them so effective to Filipinos because in contrast to Filipino-American stand-up comedians (as I’ve watched Rex Navarette and Jo Koy in Youtube), they don’t talk a lot of green jokes and still they are hilarious.
All in all, this was a hell of a first time experience that I’d probably never forget. Keep a little less high expectation and you’d be blown away with what’s about to come. Maybe that punchline didn’t work on my friend, but it a good damn job hitting me hard. And finally, don’t be too stuck with the conventional. Just because you’re in a comedy bar doesn’t mean you can’t obtain some pretty insightful things. Like SA21 says, it’s a matter of perspective. You just choose the way you look at this kind of experience. I chose to make it worthwhile.
|| Ma. Cara Lourdes Garcia
SA21 – Q