Last May 5, our SA21 class had a chance to see how it is like in a comedy bar. We went to Laffline in Timog Avenue, Quezon City. It is a ‘first’ for most of us, however, many of us already had a picture of what to expect inside because of stories we have probably heard from our family and friends.
I was really looking forward to that night. That week was a bit stressful one for me due to several long tests that were scheduled. That night was a perfect time for me and my friends to unwind and laugh as much as we wanted to.
Upon entering the comedy bar, I immediately heard loud laughs from the audience. The audience was seated in tables and everyone seems to be very attentive to the performers on stage. The stage was simple. What gave life to that stage, aside from the colorful lights and noisy sounds, are the performers. Most of them are gay, but they don’t fail to amuse the visitors.
“Lahat tayo dito pantay-pantay. Walang mahirap, walang mayaman.”
The audience consisted of a variety of social classes. People mostly come in groups, some are families, and some are friends. A group of balikbayan was even seated in front. Age also doesn’t matter as teens, middle aged people and even a number of senior citizens are present that night.
I immediately found myself laughing with the jokes thrown by the performers. There was not a minute or two that I saw myself bored. The show was spontaneous and interactive. The performers would talk to persons in the audience and ask them questions about their life. Usually, people seated in front would end up being laughed at by the crowd. But that is the game of comedy bar. The show goes on. New sets of performers get in the stage, sing and once again try to bring big smiles and laughs to the audience.
Each set of performers has their own style of entertaining the audience. Some have their share of decent jokes and stories, while others mostly give green and sex jokes. In between sets, singing performances are also staged. The performers are really talented. They are very creative with their acts. Some do “doble-kara” while others imitate famous singers and personalities such as Whitney Houston, Mommy Dionisia, etc. Even though each performer has varied approaches in making people laugh, they never fail to amuse the audience with their exceptional talents.
“Walang pikunan dito.”
That experience made me realize how our minds have become exposed to the realities of the society. Even though each one of us has different personalities and social statuses, that place is where everyone meets. No one would really care about whatever the performer says. No one gets offended (or no one should). However open or liberated the show was, everyone should be open in accepting it as reality of life. Everything that happens in the stage is part of the show. The comedy bar was able to demonstrate to us a reality in its simplest form – something that can be related to our lives and is a mirror of our culture.
Homosexuals have been the life of the comedy bar for the night. It is as if that place is their haven. There, they are accepted and they could do whatever they want. However, this part also reminded me of Ricardo Abad’s “The Clothes We Wear”. They do all those things not because they want it, but probably because it is what the society expected and shaped them to do.
The emergence of comedy bars also shows the acceptance of homosexuality in the Filipino society. We are getting used to gay stand-up comedies, which are usually sold out. We are now also seeing them on television perform, examples of which are Vice Ganda in ABS-CBN’s Showtime and Gandang Gabi Vice, and Allan K in GMA-7’s Comedy Bar and Eat Bulaga.
On slapstick comedy
It is evident that this type of comedy is what keeps the night flowing. This usually leads to the embarrassment of some people in the audience. The performers would often make fun of people in the audience by talking about their physical appearance, social status and others. Even Ateneans, majority of whom belong to the upper class of the society, are not spared from their jokes. As they say, “pantay pantay lahat dito, walang mahirap, walang mayaman, walang pikunan.”
There are many other ways of making people laugh, but we cannot remove this type of comedy from that setting. It has been a part of the Filipino culture as making fun of others can probably be deeply traced into the roots of our culture. Due to this, slapstick comedy becomes a social norm, especially in the comedy bar setting. Besides, it is this type of comedy that sells to the people. It is the easiest way of capturing the attention of the audience and eventually make them laugh.
Overall, the Laffline was an experience that made me see social realities and appreciate life better. In laughing and smiling, I have participated in a way of life of our society. Indeed, it is a reality away from reality. Although we may be considered as isolated from the ‘real’ world, in the comedy bar, we have seen and heard experiences of our fellowmen that happens in real life, by participating and laughing. In the comedy bar, the society becomes one.
I went home and slept still with a smile on my face. That smile was not brought by the jokes I have heard from the bar, but by the experience that showed me a social reality.
-Melvin D. Macapinlac, 112392, SA21-J