What comes into our mind when we hear the word comedy is that it is full of laughter. We are normally prompted with diverse comedy scenes through the TV shows and the films we watch. But such comedy shows are totally different from that of portrayed in comedy bars.
After enjoying for around two and a half hours in Laffline Comedy Bar along Timog Avenue in Quezon City, I could really say that I was culturally shocked. This was my first time to come into a comedy bar. Arriving around 9:15 in the evening with my classmates, we found only a few number of people sitting around the dining area. We were asked to pay three hundred pesos for the entrance fee. Upon entering the dining area, we were pressed by the waiters to pick a seat. It was then that I realized that there is a proper seating arrangement. We first settled on a seat near the side to avoid interactions with the stand-up comedians. As I observe, the place was almost filled with tables and chairs. The stage was moderate in size and was set really up-close to the seats in the front row. Perhaps this was purposefully made so the audience could have great interaction with the stand-up comedians. The seats near the back were first filled out. Until around 9:30, my other classmates came. Later we transferred to a seat near them in the back area. The audience ranged from as young as around ten years of age to adults in their 50s. But whatever the age, the comedians were able to keep a happy mood among its audience.
As more people came in, the place was almost filled around 11 PM. Buckets of alcoholic drinks were present in most of the tables. But there were also some who ordered the food the bar has to offer. As I was scanning through the food menu given to us by the waiter upon entering, I observed that they offer a variety of food and drinks, but the prices were a bit high compared to its normal price in other common restaurants. I believe this is one tactic to earn more since there are quite a number of foreigners visiting the place.
The program had already started the moment I entered. They were all singing in great voices. At first I thought a group of ladies were singing. To my surprise, they were all gays. In fact, they sang well. After a song, one of them came down to the audience and started to ask some random questions to the audience. Couples and some foreigners and balikbayans were those that caught the performers’ attention. They had even asked two guys sitting together whether it was their anniversary. They cracked some jokes which were actually offending for some. But then, they kept on emphasizing “Bawal ang pikon” because we are in a comedy bar and it is nothing personal.
After singing some songs, the performers then introduced us to another set of performers who had their own “gimik.” They tried to spot someone from the audience until they found a balikbayan girl from UK. She was asked a number of questions, and the performers tried to imitate the girl’s accent. She was then asked to sing, but upon going up the stage the performers kept on cracking some jokes which actually made us all laugh. Jokes were really prevalent throughout the night. After the balikbayan girl was asked to sing the song “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, one of the performers Donita sang Aegis’s “Sinta.” She managed to keep the fun atmosphere by singing the song using a manly and a girly voice. Truly, the way she sang the song made us enjoy the night.
Throughout the night, the gay performers controlled the humorous mood among its audience. When the performers were picking on somebody, I was thankful I am not the one. For almost two and a half hours, I was afraid I might be the one picked at. I tried not to look directly at the performers so I won’t be noticed. After visiting the comedy bar for the first time, I am proud to have such an experience, and I really had fun with all the performances. Culturally speaking, their lives as stand-up comedians are different. We could see here how such subculture exists within the Filipino culture. Actions that are vulgar were treated normally and naturally. Offensive words are very common. The topic of sex has been present in almost every discussion. Such topic normally makes us feel uneasy to talk about but considering the culture and ambiance in comedy bars, these were regarded as very normal and nothing personal. The performers assumed the role of a big bully throughout the night. We see here the significance of role-playing where the performers situate themselves into a specific culture. As a first timer to such comedy bars, I see such culture to be very offensive and improper. But considering its importance and relevance, it is a different culture and what we could only do is to appreciate and respect them. We could never fully judge how improper or how “wrong” their actions were because we have never been in their positions.
For the spectators, visiting such comedy bars is truly a getaway from our busy everyday lives. Here we find relaxation out of all the jokes and laughter these performers were giving. A little number of hours spent in the bar fully relieves us from a week of stress.
Louie T. Koa 091974 III BS ECE
SA 21 Q