To be honest, I have never been to a bar before. When I was young, I was told that a bar is not a good place to go since it has a negative effect on one’s life. Perhaps this is so due to the perception that bars are places where people spend their money on ladies and drinks . With this in mind, I became more curious with what is exactly inside the bar. So, with much excitement, I went to Laffline Comedy Bar, hoping to learn and discover things that may change, in one way or another, what I have been made to believe from the start.
I arrived at the bar early. It was just 8:50 PM then. I was very excited to finally be able to go to a place that used to be prohibited to me before. Since it is still early, I had the chance to explore the areas around it too. At the left of the bar were mostly fast food chains. Then, at its right were various bars and a big area supposedly utilized for disco dancing. What intrigued me most were the lights that illumined the buildings at night. I grew up in the province of Iloilo and stayed at the Ateneo dormitory; so I did not experience this so called night life. I asked a friend regarding this and he told me that these places are lifeless during the day and come to life only during night time. One could even see the houses of the squatters around the vicinity during the day. This is totally in contrast with the picture the place depicts at night.
I gazed at my cellphone and noticed that it was close to 9:30 PM. So I went inside and saw a couple of my classmates who were already there too. We were assigned our respective seats. I was thinking – “So this is actually what a bar looks like.” It is somewhat big with flashy colorful lights. There are many bouncers and Guest Relation Officers around, They were hired purposely to attend to clients like us and to attract more customers. I saw a lot more of my course mates coming in and invited them to join me; but unfortunately, they were stopped and directed to return to their assigned seats. This aroused my curiosity. So I asked a waiter on why they were so strict with regards to seating arrangement. I was informed that as the time gets late, the more people come in. Morever, it was a Saturday and bars are usually full on saturdays. I told myself, “If the bar indeed gets filled up, I hope my P300 is worth it.”
Finally, the show started. The performers started it with a bang. I observed their movements and noticed that most of them are gays. It took time because their getup made them look like girls. They started singing and joking. Their first victim was an old guy seated at the front row. They were using him in most of their jokes which were getting more and more indecent as they went along. They were fond of saying bad words although they used them to refer to their ownselves. Suddenly, they began to move from table to table and started asking questions. For my part, I had bad experiences with gays before, so I tried my best to take cover so as not to be noticed by them. A performer approached a group of students and asked them a few questions. A girl from that group told him that they were from Ateneo. He then praised her and asked what her course is. I believe her reply was Applied Math in Finance. He then cracked a joke to ridicule her. Later, he asked again a boy from their group the same questions and got the same answers. He ridiculed Ateneans again, saying that Ateneans murmur when they talk. I was shocked to see people laughing at this kind of jokes. In my opinion, said jokes were in poor taste. If I were asked those simple questions and got ridiculed afterwards, I would certainly feel embarrassed. Yet the people in the bar seemed to have a good time. The performers took turns on the stage. Each had different gimmicks and performances. The most entertaining portion for me was the fight between the tall white gay and the dark gay . The white gay made fond of him from the start but in the end, the dark gay countered with his own jokes. Nevertheless, they ended their performance entertainingly with a humorous Aling Dionisia sex scene that sent the crowd wild with their laughter.
I did not fail to observe the behavior of the audience too. They were interactive in some ways. There was a performer who confessed that he had his male genital organ changed to that of a female and that he had sex with various men of different nations. When he started to joke, a woman close to me kept on shouting “Talaga?”. They would then talk to each other. This time the jokes would focus on her and they were dirtier now, shall we say. The other people laughed to their delight. I pitied the old man seated in front because he was picked on by the performers. He was repeatedly used in their bad jokes and I think he also got insulted as the jokes were getting meaner and meaner. I admired him because despite of everything said and done to him, he maintained his cool and laughed it away.
I remembered what the performers said at the start of the show. “Joke, joke lang, walang pikonan po.” Perhaps this is the reason why people did not get mad nor walk out upon hearing the jokes of the performers. I pondered thoroughly and came to conclude that perfomers use bad words and mean jokes in order to connect to people easier and increase the impact of their jokes on them.
Finally, I looked at my cellphone and noticed that it was already twelve midnight. Although the show was still going on, I believed that I had enough findings and observations of the bar. I told my friends that I was going home. As I walked out of the door, I felt a change. The atmosphere changed. The happy atmosphere was gone. No more jokes. Gone was the people’s laughter too. I headed to the car and as I was on my way home, I thought deeply again. Bars are places where gays can freely express themselves to society. They can show their true selves and perform at their best. I remember Vice Ganda who said he was from a comedy bar. Even if he was gay, he achieved phenomenal success. Gays are perceived negatively in society. The bar can be a venue to show to people that they are also human beings and should be treated equally. They can show their talents and abilities. My childhood perception that the bar is a negative place was totally changed. My experience in the bar taught me that it is a place to express yourselves as well as a place to be happy and have fun.
I arrived home with a smile on my face. My perception was changed in the new world of Laffline.
Kevin Allison Gurrea
SA 21 J