Comedy In The Philippines
Kings of Filipino Comedy
Comedy In The Philippines
Philippine comedies are considered as one of the best in the world. In contrast to other foreign comedies, local comedies do not use major foul invectives, although some minor words like gago, sira ulo or tanga may be heard once in a while. Compared to its contemporaries, Philippine comedy is considered wholesome and literally, straight-to-the-point funny. Exaggeration, slapstick, facial expressions, and comedic sound effects play a big key in local humor.
Before the turn of the 16th century, the Philippines already had an existing, yet underdeveloped comedy scheme; it came in the form of ethnic ritual dances and jokes. Ethnic tribes such as the Ifugao and Ibaloi created comedic dances, but were, apparently, outlawed by the Spanish colonialists, mainly to prevent the rise of insurrection and the spread of anti-Spanish propaganda. Comedies during those times did not survive because of the Spanish colonization in the Philippines. The only recorded Filipino ritual comedy is from Legazpi's sailor, "Roque", which was written in his diary. It stated that Filipinos were inherently artistic and took great pride in their ritual comedies.
The 16th century saw the rise of Pinoy Comedy, and it was through the Spanish colonial era from the 16th through the 19th century that our ticklish senses were awakened. The Spaniards started a series of theatric plays called Comedia; however, the script was written in Spanish and only a few wealthy Filipinos could understand what was going on. Nevertheless, some middle-class Filipinos worked at these theaters as actors, actresses and comedians and they were considered as the first Filipino Comedians.
During the middle to the latter part of the 20th century, Filipino comedies began to develop and evolve into a more pleasing and light-hearted genre. Of course, its evolution flowed along with the tides of the times and progressed into what it is now.
Give or take a few more decades and Filipino comedies will again have evolved into more resplendent themes given the artistic and mirthful Filipino mind.
Pinoy Comedy Themes
Comedy, if repeated again and again won’t be funny anymore. To prevent this genre from becoming murky slime, innovative Filipino directors have invented themes that give comedy a fresh outlook. Words aren’t just enough, satire has to be involved. Pinoy comedy inventions have branched out into different areas of human personality.
1) Broken English. It is undeniable that Filipinos may never have the perfect English grammar. There will always be times that we will slip and eventually fall into the pitfalls of English perfectionism no matter how cautious and circumspect we try to be. Native English speakers themselves fail their own mother-tongue, how can we be so sure that we will be perfect ourselves? The good thing about Pinoys is that they can be confident about speaking in broken English and are very creative in inventing words and phrases that are comical and become household punch lines that even foreigners are fond of.
2) Habulan moments. Pinoy comedy is never complete without the unending chases. These chases, involve the chaser brandishing a stick and the person being chased always having a silly facial expression. This theme is usually done with the chasing scene in “fast-forward” mode making the characters look like chickens running after each other.
3) Very ugly guy meets beautiful ladies. There are only two sides to this. The ugly guy becomes svelte towards the beautiful girls coming his way, or he just simply shies away. With the former being the weightier side in this theme, the dialogues passed around the scene is always funny and fresh.
4) Action/Barilan scenes. Action scenes are always in the exaggerated form. No matter how dire the situation is, the characters will always produce laughs that take no serious thought of the predicament they are in.
5) Spoofs from Hollywood. Hollywood movies and even American politics have epic scenes, dialogues and songs that Filipinos get comedic refreshment from. These scenes are turned into stupid, yet unassuming and hilarious acts. The characters are overstated, the dialogues become sidesplitting and the songs are rephrased to fit into Filipino culture. The product is a major spoof.
6) Gay and ugly people being made fun of. The Philippines will never lack in resources of ugly people. The same goes with transsexuals, or trannies, in slang. Because of their ridiculous appearance in an effort to look better or feminine, the result becomes entirely comical and so directors use these instances as a goldmine from where to get comedy material. A bit of exaggeration and over-acting and the concoction is complete.
7) A corny dance number at the ending. This theme is truly only Filipino. Usually a joke is said or asked with a very corny answer that may induce some sort of mirthful response from the audience after which the hosts would dance or gyrate in an unfashionable way, making the corny joke even funnier because of the stupid dance rendition.
8) Isang taong tatanga-tanga. Every place has its own “village idiot”. There is always a person who is unaware of what is happening around him and of people around him. The character may do unconventional or whacky things, be accident-prone or be totally dim-witted.
9) Sidekick moments. In every good film, there is an antagonist and a protagonist. The latter always having someone backing him up; though the sidekick may be fiercer and impulsive than the protagonist himself, but usually ends up with his ‘tail between his legs’ when confronted with real danger.
10) Slapstick. Slapstick is recourse to humor; it has nonsensical dialogues that some viewers may deem boring yet funny to others. It involves exaggerated physical activity which exceeds the boundaries of common sense.
5 of these themes have originated from Pinoy intellect. It just shows that Filipinos are collectively among the happiest people on earth. No matter what Filipinos are going through, they will still find a way to keep themselves happy. Pinoys, indeed, have their own brand of humor that can be seen in programs that aim to tickle the funny bones and make you want to laugh out loud.
A short video on Philippines' top comedy performers
This video puts into account the Top 10 comedy series the Philippines has ever had. It also details themes that Philippine comedy is most likely to have, and of course, a run down on famous, local comedians.
Famous Pinoy Comedians
9 Filipino comedy series
Abangan Ang Susunod na Kabanata
Okay Ka Fairy Ko!
John en Marsha
Ober Da Bakod
John en Marsha vs. Bubble Gang
Comedy Then and Now: John en Marsha vs. Bubble Gang
Everything under the sun evolves with the times and that includes TV shows we watch. What was conducive in the 1970’s may not be so 50 years later, unless you were born in those days and enjoyed shows of that time. Nevertheless, generations now would most likely not enjoy things their parents watched. Still, we will consider the evolution of comedy in the Philippines. Let’s take into account John en Marsha, the famous sitcom of the ‘70s.
“Marsha Jones marries the impoverished John Puruntóng, much to the dismay of her wealthy mother, Doña Delilah. The latter often pays a visit to their house along with her serving-maid Matutína. When money was needed, she would tell Matutína to go sweep peso bills off the floor.
Despite this, John rejects all the financial assistance Doña Delilah offers his family, resulting in a hilarious exchange of insults between the two. The show usually ends with Doña Delilah screaming her catchphrase "Kayâ ikaw, John, magsumikap ka!" to insult John's capability as the father of the household. They end up making amends, giving each other abrupt hugs with Doña Delilah exclaiming "Peace man!"”
John en Marsha was a typical case of the Monster-in-Law type, yet, nonetheless, this series, which aired from May 1973 to July 30, 1990, was what you could call the wholesome family serial. Yes, it was comedic, but it was devoid of profanity and moral values were taught in relation to marriage, family, in-laws, etc.
Now let’s see what the present has to offer.
“Bubble Gang first aired on GMA Network on October 20, 1995. It was inspired by the ABC's gag show Tropang Trumpo. Two of its first cast members; Ogie Alcasid and Michael V. came from that show. The show occupied the Friday night timeslot of the now-defunct musical variety show, Vilma! GMA hired two talents from talent manager, Douglas Quijano, Wendell Ramos and Antonio Aquitania who is one of the first casts of Bubble Gang with Alcasid and Michael V. on their early days.
During its first year, it was shown around seven in the evening and carried a slogan "Bubble Gang: Just Chew It!" The show gained popularity in 1996 when it introduced a segment called Myusik Tagalog Bersyon which Michael V. translates English songs to Tagalog literally. In later months of 1998,Bubble Gang came up with an idea to parody the religious program, Ang Dating Daan into Ang Dating Doon. They originally intended to quote the Bible, but because of religious sensitivities, they just decided to quote English fairy tales and Tagalog nursery rhymes and make fun of it.
In July 20, 2012, the show made a tribute to Dolphy, the King of Philippine Comedy, a week after the actor's death. The tribute was made to honor Dolphy's contribution to Philippine Comedy. In July 2013, Ogie Alcasid left the show after moving to TV5.
The format of the show emphasizes pop culture parody. Skits and sketches are performed in a manner similar to other variety shows. It also spoofs other shows and commercials, and it also takes on other celebrities and political figures.”
Bubble Gang has always cavorted with controversial issues and many times, some of their dialogues held double meanings and ‘green jokes’. Bubble Gang may not be as wholesome as John en Marsha was 30 years ago, but as the saying goes, “Time evolves, and all else that is bound by it.” Bubble Gang is a witty program yet informative. It holds parodies, though it may mean exactly what it puns or a total different meaning. It makes a person streetwise and gumptious but sometimes sacrificing moral values.
It has all been laid out: the old and the new. It’s for you to decide where you fit in and which program holds more value.