I’ve learned to associate comedy bars with gays. That’s just something that occurs naturally in nature. You’ll be hard pressed to find a comedy bar that doesn’t have at least one gay entertainer. They’re all over, and they’re succeeding, not to mention the rising stars in our local showbiz. We have among many John Lapus, Choklit, Jon Santos, and Vice Ganda, who many entertainers are taking their cues from. Society has never been this tolerant towards gays. But that’s it. It’s only all about tolerance, and barely about acceptance.
9:30 in the evening is apparently considered early for a comedy bar. I arrived to find a few seats with people on them, and only one classmate who arrived a few minutes before I did. I suppose this is the time when the act is not so good, because all the comedians on stage did was to poke fun at the audience. Personally, I have never enjoyed comedy when it comes at the expense of the audience. I prefer the more dry-witted kind of comedy that calls on daily experiences that everyone goes through that has heavy comedy etched into it. The audience’s reactions to the comedians were expected, most of them laughed. I couldn’t imagine being in the position of the one being made fun of. I could only assume that those people didn’t enjoy it, but had to keep a straight face lest they risk being called a sore loser, or a poor sport, which no one really wants.
Most of their actions were lewd and lascivious to the point of being obscene. At one point, one comedian took the hand of one of the audience and rubbed it against is crotch. A good majority of the comedian’s monologue focused on homosexual acts. I observed that a lot of people were put off by this, but didn’t react beyond shifting or fidgeting in their seats. I attribute this to a process called social influence, which basically compels an individual to conform to the reactions of the majority of the people/surrounding.
For the staff, packing the place was of the utmost importance, even ranking above keeping the customers comfortable. I personally experienced being asked to sit on a stool instead of a seat with a backrest, and when I moved the empty seat in front of me and leaned on it, the waiter carelessly asked me to remove my hand and proceeded to fix the chair in its proper place. I suppose this was done to encourage new customers that there were still available seats for them, and they need not look for a different venue. A waiter refused to leave my tableside until I ordered a beer, which displays their crude yet effective sales techniques. Late into the night, the bar was packed full of people. Some of them resorted to standing by the edges of the bar, craning their necks to get a good look at the performers, who in my opinion still were displeasing.
There was one gay man on stage during the first act that drew my attention, but it wasn’t for the reasons one might expect. His two companions were babbling and heckling the audience while he held his microphone in front of him, yet he said nothing. He was just standing there, smiling, occasionally laughing at the jabs of his companions. He puzzled me a bit; I wondered what he was doing on the stage of a comedy bar when he was contributing nothing to their comedy?
Later into the show, he came back out, parodying a song of Beyonce, copying most of her moves to the best of his ability. He sported a glittering gown, and long curly hair, and danced in a way I would never have guessed. His confidence exuded, and I was thoroughly satisfied and entertained with his performance. He later returned to perform a joke-form of Whitney Houston’s famous “I Have Nothing” and again I was entertained. I could only theorize that he wasn’t completely comfortable with himself, otherwise, he would have been just as energetic and confident in the earlier parts of the show as he was in the latter.
For me, the most bizzar performer was the gay man who had the voice of a smoker. He had the roughest voice I’ve ever heard. I enjoyed his performance along with his companion, the panget bakla who can channel Mama Dionisia. They didn’t poke as much fun at the audience as they did with themselves. For me, that was a more acceptable form of comedy than putting your audience on the line, which I think is just downright cheap. They poked fun at each other, and at the “assumed” intelligence or lack thereof of the panget one. It made more sense. I also observed that the general audience also enjoyed this more, showing it by their heartier laughs and commotion.
The night ended on a sour note for me personally, because the spare tire of my car was stolen. But in general, I enjoyed the night of communal laughter and minimal beer-drinking. It was more enjoyable than I initially anticipated. Observing the audience, the performers, the waiters/staff and myself was a delight in itself. I might try to observe a mass. Maybe.