by Vernadette C.Mayores
I am a suki of comedy bars. I started visiting them when I was thirteen, and to be honest I think I was way too young for the green jokes, vulgar comments and suggestive body language. But nonetheless, I kept coming back, because it’s always a fun experience.
Laffline is your typical comedy bar where gay people reign. It was the same as the comedy bars I visited in Pampanga, only there was a greater diversity in the audience. The number of foreigners was noticeable (which is odd considering that they don’t know the language.) There were also minors. (I wonder why they let minors in, because honestly, it is not a place for the gentle of heart.) Also, different social stratas were represented. That includes different gender, age and social groups. A lot of the people are from the working class who are probably looking for a break from their jobs.
It was rather crowded with a lot of people smoking and drinking. Drinks and pulutans, which were rather expensive, were available probably because people imbued with the spirit of alcohol give more money. It was a place for lifestyle vices. I remembered how Pia, when she was alone waiting for us, was asked about the waiters if “sigurado [ka] okay ka lang? Pwede mo na mang i-refund yung ticket mo. Baka naman hindi dumating mga kasama mo.” Clearly, it wasn’t a place for young innocent girls.
When we got inside the bar, a waiter led us to a group of chairs then offered us the menu, which we turned down. There weren’t a lot of people yet, but the laughter was loud. At first I was wary of my environment, but afterwards I got comfortable and joined in the crowd’s laughter.
First thing I want to point out is this: It’s only funny because they are gay or at least act gay (and I don’t mean this in a degrading way.) What would be so impressing about a woman who can sing well as opposed to a gay who can sing a Celine Dion song? It’s not fun watching a person trying to harass a random guy by trying to hold his private area, unless it’s a homosexual doing it. There are certain things that only gay people can do. Only gays can pull of saying vulgar comments and doing harassing and suggestive body language. If girls do it then it wouldn’t be funny; if guys do it, it will just be plain abusive.
If the stand-up comedian isn’t gay, she’s probably portrayed as a stupid person. A good example of this is Diana, the half-Australian stand-up comedienne at Laffline. She’s pretty and sexy, but there’s nothing funny about that. But because she’s stupid and is played around by her gay “superiors”, she became benta. And honestly, it’s rather fun watching the gays make fun of the pretty girl. The gays wanted to show the audience their supremacy over women.
I also noticed that comedy bars is a place where you can say anything to anyone. I’ve never heard the word titi as frequent as I did in Laffline in my life. I also learned new words such as utin (penis in Bisaya.) The gays had a great time making fun of the ugly and hitting on the good looking. Their favorite targets were the foreigners, who they indirectly ask for “donations.” It is a place of no inhibitions, and that’s what makes it funny.
There was part when Pretty Trizia talked to a German in Dutch. He was able to hold a conversation with the foreigner for some time. I was amazed. I realized that these people are actually smart, educated people. In further reflection, I realized that one has to be smart to be able to make people laugh. I started seeing stand-up comedy as a legit profession. They are educated professionals just as much as my Ateneo professors are. It was an eye opener for me.
What’s so special about comedy bars is that it is the best place to showcase gay culture. In fact, it is the only place where one can truly say that the gays are the queens. I’d even say that if comedy bars would form their own social hierarchy, it would be like this: homosexuals àwomen acting and dressing like gay peopleà just women. There is no place for men in the stages of comedy bars, unless you’re the music technician. Or the random guy they bring up on stage to harass.
I think, in general, gay bars are patronized because it is a place where things that are outside the norms are displayed and enjoyed. Homosexuality, however prevalent it is, is still much underrepresented. Comedy bars is a place where gay culture and practices thrive. It is a place where homosexuality isn’t looked down upon. On the contrary, homosexuality is celebrated in comedy bars.
All in all, I can say that my comedy bar experience was funny (my jaw was aching from all the laughing), eye-opening, and one-of-a-kind. In fact, I and my friends enjoyed so much that we are already planning another trip to Laffline.