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Laughed at and Approved?

14 May

On a mandatory note, I tagged along with my class to Laffline—a comedy bar along Timog Avenue. The first-timer that I was (or should I say the wimp that I was), I was afraid to traverse to that area of the city late in the night. That being said, I dragged my older brother with me to get even just a little peace of mind. In original Filipino fashion, we got to the comedy bar later than the others and saw that the place was already packed. Once inside, I sat beside my classmates and strapped myself in for “a night like no other.”

The place was quite spacious, allowing for a large number of seats for the audience.  I couldn’t help but notice how there was a variety of people already in the audience: young, old, rich, not so rich, local and even from out of the country. However, I honestly believed majority of the youth in the audience were my fellow Atenistas, doing the same thing as I was—observing. The entertainment was obviously on full force when I got there with the entertainers cracking jokes and the audience bursting into laughter. (and with no exaggeration, even into tears) I, too had laughed at the first wisecrack I heard. There were definitely a variety of acts too—stand-up comedy, singing, lip-synching and dancing included.

In my mind (initially), I thought comedy bars like Laffline would be just like the stand-up comedy stints on television—people dishing out (mostly) clean jokes that are humorous and witty. In reality, Laffline was more of the opposite. Most of the entertainers, apart from one girl, were gay. And although these entertainers were admittedly very talented—being able in the art of singing and dancing, their comedy took on quite a different form. The jokes that the comedians told were conspicuously derogatory and downright low. These entertainers would call a person from the audience to sing but before they give them the mic, they manage to squeeze in a handful of teasing and taunting comments, all seemingly in jest. Apart from this, they would call the attention of certain persons in the audience, calling them out with words such as pogi or tanda—often gesturing to their genitals while doing this. The humor leans towards sexual, linking being comical to being vulgar.

 In all of that, I began to ask myself, “Is being different funny?” Does comedy equate to being atypical or abnormal? If this were the case, then the homosexuals running the stage are the embodiment of funny.  They, being deemed by society as abnormal, are living images of “out of the ordinary.” A comedian by the name of Mamu who would lip-synch and sing to Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” got the whole crowd laughing. Perhaps it was because Mamu was a tad overweight and that to the audience was entertaining. Society laughs at the overweight; what more the combination of overweight and homosexual. Even the physically unappealing is seen to be funny by these entertainers and audience as well.  Why is ridicule and making a mockery out of something that is out of the ordinary laughed at? The entertainers themselves make a mockery out of their distinctions, cracking jokes about themselves. One particular entertainer, Donita, who sang duets (singing both the girl and the guy part) is a perfect example. Her singing was exquisite. A true treat to be seen! However, what really stood out was how easily she could joke about sex and how she (again, or he) cut off her male genitals so that men would finally “do her.” It’s weird how something as taboo as sex can easily be joked about by a gay entertainer. Perhaps, this is just an example of which the phrase “There is many a true word spoken in jest,” rings true. However, is this the price gay entertainers and comedians have to pay in order to be “laughed” at and approved by society?

After a while, my laughter died down and I began to ponder upon these thoughts. I don’t know if it was just me being a girl or being too sensitive (or maybe even naïve) but eventually, I was nodding my head in disapproval. I know, however, that I was not the only one feeling that way. I left the comedy bar a little bit earlier than the others. Although I honestly laughed at all the funny parts and was entertained, I left the comedy bar feeling a bit sad that this is what humor has become to society. In all honesty, the questions I asked myself that night still remain to be just questions and not questions with answers. “A night like no other” definitely was what I experienced that night at Laffline. Surely, it’s not a night I want another round of.

-Monique Bulan

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