Comedy bars are the new trend of the century, amidst the oil price hike, maltreated Malaysian babies, and the simmering international brawl for that tiny, rocky island. The world is becoming distressed of the hustle and bustle of real life; people are willing to shell a million bucks for crisp laughter. The society today dictates that without money, you have relatively no right to get your funny bone tickled.
This sad fact doesn’t matter, because everyone benefits from this barter fair and square. The people laugh; the management earns; the flamboyant talents are soon to be discovered and seen in fantaseryes and slapstick movies. No wonder why comedy bars are such a hit.
During our first visit to one comedy bar, we found out how the system exactly works. What makes people laugh; the management earn; and their talents famous? Through keen and persnickety observation, comedy bars’ secret to success can finally be laid out on the table.
1. Location, Location, Location.
The Laffline comedy bar is strategically located along the mecca of the entertainment industry — Quezon City. Timog Avenue is nocturnally bright and alive from the booming activity of other competing bars and various establishments. Laffline is even right in front of MTRCB’s main office! The bar’s location is very convenient for everyone; Timog Avenue is very accessible to the people itching for a gimmick after work, and also to the talents with other commitments. Chokoleit, the main act, said at the beginning of his spill that he was just fresh from a shooting of a new fantaserye in ABS-CBN. Laffline is just a few blocks away from the prime TV networks.
The facade was adorned with beaming lights to subconsciously attract patrons. For the same reason, the big and incandescent list of performers ascendingly arranged by fame was posted as well. Upon entering the bar, the luxurious smell of smoke and beer welcomed the audience. The outdated portraits of the talents were hanged on the bar’s dilapidated interiors; they were wearing tacky outfits, with some showing off their unattractive, bejeweled tummies. The management neglects the interiors because they don’t really need to. The bar is not an art museum anyway. Notwithstanding, the bar was jampacked with a lively audience, tough security and accommodating waiters.
2. Tough Security
At first, we were taken aback by the intimidating pool of security guards standing at the facade of the bar. The lady guard checked our things thoroughly upon the entrance.
Ironic as it sounds, the establishment expects an imminent danger lurking amidst the bar’s dynamic atmosphere. Muscular men wearing black shirt could be seen patrolling around, alert for threats that can compromise the safety of customers and the bar’s reputation. They could be found everywhere in the bar, even at the comfort rooms! Their alarming presence made it clear that the bar is for laughter, not for lust and immaturity of all forms.
Aside from the caliber of the performances, the management prioritizes the safety of their patrons. People go to comedy bars to have a good time, and a huge part of that is to be safe first. The idea of safety comforts the audience, making them fully enjoy the show and hopefully come back next time.
3. Gay and Fabulous Comedians
No comedy bar is ever complete without gay comedians because they naturally have a flair for entertainment. Their confident and flamboyant personalities were the bar’s energy source, armed with their knack in stand-up comedy and singing. Upon our arrival, three stand-up comedians greeted our anxious thoughts. One was a beautiful transgender female, the other one looked like a repugnant drag queen, the last was a female singer.
Then, another gay performed songs using his female and male voices. Afterwards, the audience went ballistic from laughing at his sexcapades told candidly. Part of his anecdote was his first-hand opinion about how men of different ethnicity are like in bed. The main attraction, Chokoleit, also spurted out green humor, but his bestseller spill focused on his new fantaserye and his exasperation on women going to the comfort rooms by groups. He jocularly told the crowd that he has already earn a lot from his unattractive face.
Derogatory jokes from the comedians were part of our comedy bar experience that night. The performers, however, are very professional that they don’t take their insults to each other personally. They also spiced up their performance by humorously pestering the audience. Good thing no offense was taken.
By the way, gay comedians were also available for private meet-ups with any bar patron. Such sightings were surreal. We don’t want to know what would have happened next.
4. ‘Sex sells.’
As expected, the performance spills were mostly composed of vulgar sexual innuendos. Beforehand, the audience got warmed up by G-rated antics about social classes and pop culture. “Ang mga mayayaman, share your blessings. Bumili pa kayo ng pagkain. Ang mga mahihirap, wag gagalaw, baka makabasag,” one comedian asserts.
Green jokes were the universal language that night, notwithstanding the presence of minors. Almost all stand-up performers, from the wildcards to Chokoleit, speak it very fluently. One sweet female singer was irrevocably overshadowed by her theatrical colleagues because she delivered a G-rated performance — accompanied by frequent dead airs.
Sexual references were not just limited to words. A performer forced a Phil-Am to touch his genitals. The voluptuous gay had slumped his fake boobs on the face of an elderly. As first timers, we found such naughty jokes hilarious but radical. People who were seated in front of the stage have most likely known and expected those things to happen.
Throughout history, sex naturally fascinates people from all walks of life. Admittedly, that topic grabbed our attention and made us tuned in to the performances. Sex is usually taboo to discuss in everyday scenarios, except during animated nights like that. When gay comedians share lewd anecdotes, people are therefore shocked and taken aback at first. Afterwards, people just laugh and enjoy the funny stories either because:
a.) they want to alleviate the tension from such an awkward topic or;
b.) they can relate.
5. ‘Come one, come all.’
Comedy bars cater to the earning labor force, so it opens after working hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Since we went on a Saturday slot, most people we saw were wearing casual clothing. Young to middle-aged couples, barkadas and our class unsurprisingly composed the lively audience for the night.
Far from what we expected, the audience consisted of people from all ages. There were notably groups of elderly people in the bar, laughing so boisterously on Chokoleit’s spills about marriage sex. In the early show, Laffline wildcards humorously bantered a quiet lolo sitting in front. Some elementary-aged kids were seen roaming around the bar, under the supervision of adults of course. We personally don’t understand why they were there; all people but the kids laughed and understood the sexual and pop culture innuendos behind the performances.
6. ‘The Bargaining Power of Suppliers’
Money makes this comedy bar go round. Your 300-peso entrance fee is never enough if you intend to fully relish your stay in the bar. Come on, you’re in a bar. Chip in some beers and nachos at a staggering cost — and you will sure have a good time. In our stay, we paid 500 pesos for a San Miguel light bucket, 320 pesos for two Vodka Cruisers, and around 300 pesos for a plate of nachos. We didn’t really mind, because it’s more fun to watch their hilarious performances while sipping some sweet beer and licking the cheese from your fingertips.
The management just exercised their bargaining power by raising their retail mark-up enormously. Based from Michael Porter’s five forces analysis, the management has the advantage to charge excessively high because they have no competition within the bar. Bringing food and drinks inside the venue is prohibited, thus people have no choice but to rob a bank for a refreshing bottle of San Miguel light.
All it takes to discover the secrets behind comedy bars is 300 bucks, and some more dough for beer and nachos. People pay such a hefty price in order to experience ephemeral ecstasy and escapade from stressful reality. The management earns big bucks each night, and the gay performers are soon to star in your next favorite fantaserye.
Eyana Mallari (112453) and Ervy Yabut (114311)