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» » » » » » » » » » » » Comedy in the Philippines: What Makes the Pinoys Laugh? (Part 2)

JR Lopez Gonzales 11:18 PM 0

This is the continuation of the article “Comedy in the Philippines: What Makes the Pinoys Laugh? (Part 1)”. If you haven’t read the first part yet, check it out here.

Being avid music aficionados, the Filipino comedians also venture on musicality as an added element to their brand of comedy. The pioneers of the Filipino vaudeville are Pugo and Togo (composed of Mariano Contreras and Andres Solomon) which were a hit during the Japanese Occupation. They later on influenced the comedy duo of the “Comedy King” Dolphy and Panchito which first introduced the English to Filipino song “translation” jokes. These routines of course, recur up to this day with the frolics of Porky and Choppy (of the PorkChop Duo) and Jose and Wally.
In the cyberspace, the duo of Moymoy Palaboy and Roadfill who would lip sync to some cool tunes rose to celebrity-status because of their millions of YouTube views. On the other hand, a distinct routine of mashing songs up was popularized by Ate Gay. Some comedians on the other hand, impersonate celebrities or singers which combines both amazing visual and verbal humor to the viewers.

Another striking point in Filipino comedy is our lack of sarcasm or irony in gags and skits. American shows on the other hand, employ these (which I truly enjoy), but is not quite understood here. There was even a research which says that Filipinos lack the “satire gene”. I believe there’s some truth to it.

Generally, sarcastic remarks come across as negative and sometimes interpreted as a little mean. These kinds of jokes don’t fly here. Except with the antics of Vice Ganda (Jose Marie Viceral in real life) which was the surprise trendsetter in the current mainstream comedy.

The Filipino “comedy bar” jokes come in with the Showtime! host as its forerunner. I believe that this is the reason why the audacious gay comedian rose to fame. He mastered the art of “roasting” where he says funny things at the expense of another person. His ‘piloso’-phical jokes are new to the Filipino ears, which carry with it an ironic, sarcastic, or insulting taste. Amazingly, this does not fall flat at all.

And with the latest brouhaha that involved him and his rape jokes; I just think that it was a bit overblown. I believe that people can make ANY subject a joke, and in the words of my hero George Carlin, it simply “depends on how you say it” (or maybe for Mr. Viceral’s case, where to say it).

All these varieties are but proofs that we Filipinos have a funny bone, too. And we have tons of styles to cater to our chortle cravings. In an interview done by Lourd de Veyra to comedy icon Joey de Leon on Wasak, the latter is quoted to have said that the Filipino brand of comedy has evolved from simplistic to sophisticated. Back in the days, the gags are done with literal jokes unlike now where these are intricately ‘set-up’.

The Eat… Bulaga! host may be right but I have to admit that still we’ve got a long way to go with regards to comedy-writing. All we have are movies and the TV sitcoms which have recurring storyline and based on low-brow formula. And that’s a remark coming from a proud 90’s kid who grew up to Home Along the Riles, Ang TV, and OK Ka Fairy Ko. That’s why I usually turn to the American stand up comedians George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Russell Peters, for inspiration, motivation, and comedic enlightenment. I’ll jump off to an unsolicited advice here: the local counterpart of this kind of humor which I strongly commend is that of Comedy Cartel in Makati. You may check out the routines of Alex Calleja, Tim Tayag, Ron Josol, Rex Navarrete, and more (You can freely look up their acts in YouTube).
In the US, there is what people call the “late night jokes". The hosts come up with one-liners covering popular topics such as politics, country leaders and celebrities. These shows are very rare in the Philippines, except maybe for the stale Conan O’Brien-copycat shows of Jojo A. or Arnold Clavio.

But on top of these differentiated sense of humor, the thing most noteworthy is our predilection of looking into things positively. We are the people that can put up a bold face in the midst of hardships. We are the people that believe we don’t have to take life too seriously. We are the people who don’t jump from buildings when we go bankrupt

No food on the table? Got no job? House washed away by flashflood?  The Filipino can still be seen laughing, singing, or at least still smiling, despite the tribulations. We do this all the time and being gleeful totally cures all of our sorrows.

Uhm, I’m sorry I was carried away. Some things can’t be cured by laughter. Joke only.
Joke Only.

Photo Credit:
Vice Ganda taken from

Author's Note:

This article was inspired by the article written by Nestor U. Torre for  the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled, "12 Ways To Make Filipinos Laugh" on April 1, 2000.
The online version of the daily can be seen here:,673679.
Special thanks to Anonymous who reminded me to properly cite the author.

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