“Di ba puro bakla mga comedian sa bar?” My sister said.
I was with my family when they dropped me off at Laffline. It was my first time there and my parents were very protective. My father was actually supposed to accompany me into the bar; I had to show him that my teacher’s there to see that I was safe. They left, and I was finally alone on my first field trip at night, in a comedy bar.
When I first entered Laffline, it was a normal bar, with all the characteristics one could observe in bar scenes from different TV shows and movies. It was dim with some choice lights here and there with alcohol and oily food on the tables of the audience. There were speakers placed in different corners of the bar such that I could hear the act the moment I entered.
After finding a seat, I noticed that the trio of comedians on stage was gay. The posters scattered on the walls of the bar were pictures of gay comedians. There was only one heterosexual female among the comedians or at least, I think she was female since I might be wrong after all. My sister was right: there were a lot of gay comedians. The gay comedian is already a stereotype here in the Philippines. I don’t find anything wrong with that; it’s fine as long as the audience find them funny. I found it puzzling why this stereotype exists here. Maybe because they are discriminated in society, they decided to turn it as a joke to view their lives in another light and eventually, they made a career out of those jokes. Maybe because they don’t follow the social norm of heteronormativity, their jokes become unique and interesting to the mostly heteronormative audience. I don’t think there’s an exact answer to the stereotype so I didn’t dwell on it much.
I took more note of the different jokes the comedians used and I found that their jokes were mostly either verbal insults or about sex. There were some unique ones, like the firework noises a pair did while a guest was singing, but these two were the most prevalent ones.
The first recurring joke that I noticed was insulting. Insulting is a common way to make others laugh in the expense of the person being insulted. Sometimes, even the person being insulted would find it funny and laugh about it. They would go down the stage, ask the audience to introduce themselves and the comedians would quickly find something to insult about. The comedians would also insult themselves in certain acts. One that I found interesting was one pair of comedians in which one acted like a simpleton who would often misunderstand the situation or think of a pun while the other corrected him. It reminded me of Manzai, a Japanese style of duo stand-up comedy, which consisted of a similar style of jokes like puns and misunderstandings. Insulting is an easy to make somebody happy because we feel better about ourselves. Because the one being insulted would be in lower standing than those who weren’t, the rest of the audience can laugh at the insulted person. On the other hand, the person being insulted would also laugh, or else he might disrupt the happy mood of the audience and be socially rejected by the audience. To save himself from being treated as such, it would be less embarrassing to just laugh at whatever insult the comedians direct at him. If the comedians decide to insult each other, none of the audience would get hurt; thus, insulting makes a rather generally safe act to perform to keep the audience laughing.
The second recurring joke was sex-related. Honestly, the comedian that I found the funniest was the one who could sing with two voices because most, if not all, of his jokes were related to sex. He joked about how men and women from different countries make different noises while having sex. He even told a personal story when he had sex with a friend or at least, he made it sound personal, which makes him all the more talented in a way. I found the jokes funny and interesting because I had little experience with them. I didn’t know how men of different nationalities sound like; I can’t even imagine it so the jokes I heard sounded new to me. Generally, sex is something everybody knows about, but not everybody knows about it in detail. To those who do know about the details, they would be able to relate to it. This is what makes it funny and interesting: not everybody could be like him, so for some people, not only are they hearing these things for the first time, but it might also be the only time they hear these things. For those who are knowledgeable about sex, they would probably think: “I know what you mean, bro.” Another reason why sex is funny would be that sex is generally a social taboo. A person who has sex more often than others is something frowned upon besides among one’s closest friends. Even if everybody in a room would be an adult, it would still be taboo to speak about it in public besides within one’s close circle of friends. A person who would speak so freely about sex would appear funny because, besides being generally funny, it is also socially funny simply because it’s not ordinary for people to speak about sex in public.
I found the comedy bar enjoyable. Although the drinks are expensive, it’s fine as long as you don’t buy them (I did). There was also singing, which gave me time to go to the washroom and appreciate music. It was overall a unique experience for me; my 300 pesos was well spent indeed.
Janssen Chan, 110818
SA 21 – A