Ramon Bautista on cutting edge comedy and its role in our day-to-day lives

Photo by Kitkat Pajaro

If there’s anything good that we can take away from the current political and social climate, it’s amazing jokes. Just look at Stephen Colbert and his digs at Donald Trump’s poor political decisions and Twitter rampages. The election and post-election period basically became a goldmine for Colbert and many other writers in the entertain- ment industry.

That’s the thing about comedians; they make light of scary and unbelievably stupid things, and somehow make everything more bearable. It’s just like imagining your audience naked when you’re about to do a public performance or you singing Baby Shark (sorry not sorry for the LSS) as you go down to the kitchen to get a glass of water. It’s a mechanism that helps you forget things temporarily; but just like many other comedians, it can also be a tool for social discourse (Holla, Hasan Minhaj).

So a show like iflix’s original production Hoy! Bibig Mo comes at the perfect time. The standup comedy show is hosted by comedian Ramon Bautista and features 24 emerging comedians with “hilarious, biting and quirky humor, throwing out jokes that are bold, near- the-knuckle and, sometimes, downright rude.” It’s not quite like the comedy we see in other countries — say, in Malaysia, where the original version of the show was born — because these jokes hit very close to home.

Laugh out loud: Ramon Bautista hosts iflix’s original production Hoy! Bibig Mo. | Photos by Kitkat Pajaro

But where do we draw the line between being “funny” rude and just rude rude? According to Ramon, it’s the Filipinos’ culture of close family ties and friendship that softens the blow. “Okay lang mang-gaguhan ng mga kamalian. Dapat hindi nakaka-offend yun,” he says. Well, traditionally, para sa atin kasi, ganun tayo magbiruan eh. Parang masama at tsaka masakit.”

On the other hand, he thinks this is also what helps the country survive when faced with adversity. It’s true that Filipinos are known to be resilient, and our sunny disposition causes us to be optimistic. Oftentimes, our humor can be as simple as hugot jokes delivered with fake tears on national television because that’s what relatable, and honestly, easy. Don’t get us wrong; there’s nothing bad about it but we can’t help but wonder if we can see more material that challenges the system, no matter how scary it may be.

Dapat ngang gawin yang mga ganyang bagay. Hindi lang natin alam kung sino yung matapang enough,” he said, citing Ethel Booba’s Twitter account as one of those few. “Kung yung ‘press freedom’ pinaglalaban, dapat ipaglaban din ang ‘comedic freedom.’ Pwede rin matakot pero yan ang magiging kamatayan ng comedy.”

Face off: For Ramon, confidence is key when delivering a good joke.

As much as we want comedy to always mean something, that’s not always the case. At the end of the day, the point is to make people laugh. And just like anything that involves personal connection, it differs from one person to another. Hoy! Bibig Mo offers that kind of variety for their wide audience. With 24 comedians on the roster, there is surely something for everyone.

Ramon, being the most experienced of the bunch, has a few tips for these new talents. “Dapat pag gusto mo maging comedian, dapat lumabas-labas ka rin. (Laughs) Hindi yung puro sarili mo lang kinakausap mo kasi bawat isang tao may mga nakakatawa silang bagay na ginagawa, di ba?” he says. Material really is everywhere and it’s just a matter of finding the courage to put it in writing for other people to consume. Performing it, however, is a different monster. “Sa tingin ko dapat kaya mo na lang i-fake yung confidence na yun kung wala kang confidence. Mag-concentrate ka na lang sa pag-deliver ng joke pati sa timing mo,” he says.

Being in the entertainment industry is difficult enough, but being a comedian is an even tougher job. There’s an expectation that you should be intelligent and bold, but at the same time “safe” and a good sport. Laughter is the desired outcome, but if we can hit ‘em with a bit of productive social commentary, then all the better.

 

Catch Hoy! Bibig Mo on iflix.com. You can watch all eight episodes and more for only P129 a month.

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