The Death of Comedy


Comedy Manila is not just your ordinary stand-up outfit: it’s a group that hopes to transform the face of Philippine comedy.

No longer will local aspiring comedians force themselves to resort to antics that would make the three stooges look like graceful swans in comparison. A new form of comedy is taking root in the Philippines, and all that is needed is a mic, and a surplus of wits. Gone will be the pie throwing and banana peel slipping days through the stand-up comedy revolution, which aims to make the average Filipino acquainted with humor that would not be out of place in a Conan O’Brien or Ellen show.  And Comedy Manila, a 7-month old group, has accepted the urgent task of transfiguring the existing Philippine comedy through the Pinoy Stand-up Revolution.

7 pm is the new 6 pm. It would appear that coming at the indicated time for a performance was the first joke of the night. A murmur reverberated throughout the crowded halls of the seventh floor of the Yuchengco Auditorium. It was a murmur of excitement, of expectation, of hope- a murmur common to those about to witness the execution of a cruel regime. On the 27th day of May, 2014, curious spectators gathered to witness, as did the revolutionaries of 19th century Paris, the death of the ancient regime of comedy.

“Put Your Hands in the Air!” commanded a voice, although had he been addressing the fevered students of Rousseau’s era, he would have instead ushered them as thus: “Comrades, welcome the beginnings of the change in Philippine comedy!”

… as soon as the fifteen minute party music interval terminated, the restless gathering was treated to tunes spun by a DJ. After much clapping, the realization settled in that the DJ had no intention of stopping any time soon. The enthusiasm melted a bit. Although the DJ was evidently very much talented, the audience paid to see a Comedy and not a party. It naturally followed that when a man in a simple blue t-shirt came in to view, the enthusiasm rose, only to be quelled when the man turned out to be a dancer (although a good one) and not a comedian.

So when the first comedian, Eri Neeman, or more commonly known as the Boy Backup of Bubble Gang, made an appearance, it was as if manna had fallen from heaven. But since the manna had been withheld for so long, expectations were high. Neeman, a bald man with a quirky sense of humor, did not disappoint. He joked about things like DLSU’s bathrooms, ways to know if a girl likes you, and how to get people to stop going through your phones photos. This was met with guffaws of laughter, so loud that it would seem as if each person in the audience was competing to see who would laugh the loudest.

After Neeman, the second comedian clad with Superman glasses and a DLSU shirt, one of the finalists of Jack TV’s “Laffapalooza” comedy competition, Lasallian alumni Red Ollero focused on observational humor, cracking the challenges people with a similar body mass index as his.

A joke about his mustache is how GB Labrador, the third comedian of UCOC and the tallest, started his 20-minute skit. He said that having a mustache is advantageous especially when living in a very dangerous side of Manila. Another thing Labrador pointed out that not even a mustache can avoid is the very inevitable trait of a Filipino mother to vaunt her son or daughter’s dance skills through every opportunity she gets.

After GB’s true-to-life performance, a break from all the laughs was necessary. Thanks to some chips, gift giveaways, pick-up lines from the audience, an unexpected display of picturesque abs of a Red Bull boy and a great performance from the Taft Beatbox Movement, the audience were ready to take in some more stand-up.

James Caraan, one of the Top 5 Finalists of the recent Banana Split’s Clown in a Million and the fourth comedian of the night, channeled his inner otaku as he shared his getting stabbed from a holdup after doing Goku’s Shunkan Ido, believing that it might actually work.

After James’ nostalgic skit, Victor Anastacio, winner of Jack TV’s “Laffapalooza” in 2007, shared the bittersweet and inevitable situation of a comedian who also has a part-time job as the unprofessional driver of a family of professionals, accompanied by sharp and disappointed side comments from his mother.

Known comedy writer in ABS-CBN and the headliner comedian of the event, Alex Calleja, ended the night on a high note, definitely making Lasallians forget the fact  that they were in the middle of hell week and finals.

“Students in general, sa tingin ko gusto nila ito.” says Calleja. Kasi, hindi siya insult, tapos nakakapagisip rin e. We’re kind of discussing what’s happening around us in a funny way… nakakatuwang approach siya sa isang seryosong bagay.

He says that there is definitely a demand of this type of comedy. “Kaya nga lang, nasa mainstream kasi natin is the insult comedy katuld ng Vice Ganda.” He thinks that there is a silent majority that would support their comedy. “Pero mabagal lang yung dissimenation ng ganitong comedy because we’re doing it live, this school then the next school. Di katulad sa comedy nila na nasa TV… We’re not saying mali yung comedy nila, may mga market sila, but we’re also creating our own market for those who want this comedy.”

In DLSU, though, an event like this is truly a breath of fresh Taft air. From all the parties Lasallians are very much accustomed to, UCOC is something one would not expect to hold a full house at the TYA.

Stemming from jokes about manananggals being hassled by the flood to Filipinos being the best people to ask for directions, from Zesto pick-up lines to giving out a harana to a loved one living in a condominium, Comedy Manila made Lasallians (and hopefully, in the future, Filipinos of all statuses and body mass index) stand up for stand-up.

Arielle Poblete

By Arielle Poblete

Stephanie Pagdanganan

By Stephanie Pagdanganan

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