What may have been a typical Saturday night for most people in Punchline was, to me, an adventure. You have to understand that I have been sheltered all my life. I come from a very conservative and religious family. Growing up, I was taught to always act like a lady. For years, I have been hearing the lines:
Speak with flowers. Keep your shoulders back, chin up and walk tall. Greet everyone when you/they arrive and say goodbye when you/they leave. Always use magic words – please, thank you, sorry, excuse me. One piece of chocolate is enough for one day. Too much TV (more than an hour a day) will fry your brains. Lift your feet when you walk. Don’t talk when your mouth is full. Always shine your shoes. Use your indoor voice. Never lose your poise. Don’t feed the dog while you’re at the table. Never answer back. Fold your blanket. Pack up your things. Never borrow things from your classmates. Close your eyes or leave the room during kissing scenes. Sleep at 8:00 (prep), 9:00 (grade school), 10:00 (high school AND college). If you wear shorts to school, guys will look at your legs and you might get sexually harassed or raped. Bring <insert cousin’s name here> when you go out with <insert guy’s name here>. AND I’m fetching you at midnight.
So you can imagine how repressed I have been all my life.
Despite my pretty tragic Cinderella story, I still have a few magical royal ball and rebellious teenager moments from time-to-time. So far, the craziest things I have done are commuting, getting drunk, learning to smoke a cigarette, going home at five in the morning (5 hours past curfew) and going to Punchline Comedy Bar.
Last year, when I heard that we might go to Divisoria for our field trip, I was thrilled because it seemed like an excellent adventure and bonding experience to have with my classmates. I pictured exciting LRT 2, LRT 1 and jeepney rides and bargain shopping – for which I am such a sucker. Which is why my dreams were crushed when I learned that we had to choose among a gay bar, comedy bar and Enchanted Kingdom instead. I chose the comedy bar first because I wanted to be with most of my classmates and also because Filipinos are such talented performers. I gained respect for comedians and comediennes because of the stand-up comedy scenes in movies and television shows that I have watched.
I already had my set of expectations before entering Punchline: A person sitting on a stool or standing, with only a microphone, shares a series of funny stories and jokes for several minutes. He/she later gets a volunteer from the audience to take the stage and perform, etc. To my surprise, Punchline Comedy Bar had an almost entirely different set-up. The place was dimly-lit and filled with tables and chairs and several bouncers. As soon as I walked in, I saw a man in an African-ish get up (a turban and a tribal dress) singing like a diva. I thought he was the opening act but I discovered later on that he was one of the five comedians I was to watch.
My friends and I chose to sit at a table on the side so that we could get a great view and, at the same time, avoid being made fun of by the comedians. Most of our fellow students chose to sit right at the center in front of the stage. It was very brave of them to do so because the comedians made fun of and spoke to some of them. Because all the performers were gay, it was no surprise when the first two developed a HUGE crush on Lee Roman. He was asked to join them onstage. For around fifteen minutes (the longest fifteen minutes of Lee’s life, I’m sure), they raved about his good looks, saying that he was hot in a Hugh-Jackman-as-Wolverine way, etc.
The performances consisted of singing and telling jokes (most of which were ‘green’) and more singing. Sadly, I could not understand some of the jokes which made me feel so left out when I was the only one not laughing.I noticed that the performances were very on-the-spot. Although I found some parts repetitive and a bit dragging, I admired the comedians for being so witty and spontaneous. At times, it was not even the things that they said but the way they said it that made it so hilarious. They could make everything and anything seem funny. I also admired the members of the audience and the two volunteers who did not mind being made fun of and who knew how to joke back.
I particularly enjoyed the part when the two comedians were ‘arguing.’ They spoke about education and were able to include Ateneo and the UAAP in the joke. They effortlessly came up with witty retorts to each other’s lines. It was genius. They knew all the right things to say to make everyone in the audience able to relate to each topic they used.
All in all, it was a one-of-a-kind experience as well as a wonderful bonding experience. I learned that, although the comedians joke mostly about trashy and crazy things, they are actually very intelligent people who deliver well under so much pressure. After all, it takes a lot of wit and a great sense of humor to make people laugh about everything and anything.
Mara Francine Josephine R. Esmilla