The politics of comedy bars: how to avoid making yourself the object of comic ridicule

We attended a not-so-well-attended reunion of Broadcast Communication graduates of the University of the Philippines Visayas. The program was fun. The crowd, because it was not very big, was convivial. It has just the right atmosphere for coming home. After the party, some of my college classmates, (there were seven of us who were present) suggested to go to Smallville along Diversion Road to continue partying. Some, tired of traveling to and of the big and raucous character of the crowd in that venue, invited for coffee at La Terraza, but it was too early to settle for something as light and dull as that coffee shop. Eventually we all settled to go to a comedy bar called Backroom located on the second floor of that coffee shop.

Backroom is one of the very few comedy bars in Iloilo City. The other one, Reasons Bar, at Robinson’s Place is more of a KTV bar than a comedy bar. Other, which I have not been to, are in the seedier parts of the city. They present shows that are somewhat more geared toward satisfying the more carnal sensory needs, the comedy skits relegated on the sideways. These cannot really be called comedy bars because they’re more burlesque than comic.

I’ve been to Backroom not quite a few times before. And if you’ve seen one of their shows, you’ll already get to have a feel of their kind of comedy. The hosts make the audience laugh mostly by personally shaming and berating themselves and the audience. On the walls are signs saying “Bawal ang pikon” precisely because the show is not for those people with sensitive egos, whose idea of self is dependent on what others say about them regardless of what the intent, context, and the manner people around them say it.

If you enjoy seeing people being the subject of sarcasm, direct onslaught or cruel jokes, even slapstick all for the sake of low comedy, and if you take undue pleasure in seeing a member of the audience recoil in his seat because of the unforgivable remark about the size of his nose, the kinkiness of his top, or the funny way he wears his outfit; but interestingly you do not want to be this person, then either a comedy bar is not for you.

Or you may devise ways so that you’ll be less conspicuous, less easily noticed by the merciless comedians on stage, allowing you to laugh your heart out clandestinely in your seat at the expense of a less fortunate person in the audience seated right in front of the platform.

The Hows:

  • Do not wear white or light colors as these reflect UV bulbs used in most of these dark bars. Wearing these shades, you’ll look like a scorpion under the specialized light used by an entomologist. You call their attention, and it’s something you would want to avoid, wouldn’t you?
  • Stay in the dark corners/crevices of the bar, if possible make a reservation for a table in the far most corner. Make sure that you’re very far so that those mics that still use cord won’t reach you in the event the hosts decide to do something drastic as to involve audience participation.
  • Order as much alcohol as you can. It is an unspoken rule that those who buy the most drinks are the least likely to be made fun of (maybe…) And the alcohol once it starts to kick in will dull your senses making the most debasing of remarks hurled at you unaffecting.
  • Camouflage yourself by appearing as ‘one of the crowd’. If you itch to watch a show but your friends at last the minute abandon you for something urgent or emergency, make friends around. Share a table with a group of at least ten. Don’t worry about being out-of-place. It is of a lesser concern than leaving the place with your dignity, soul, and remaining self-respect all over the place.
  • Do not stand to pee or raise your hand to order something or get the bill while the hosts are delivering their lines. Doing so is an act of surrender, an act of delivering yourself as sacrifice to appease the gods thirsty for a good, empty laugh.
  • And finally, just enjoy the show. Who knows the hosts will notice your great smile and compliment you for that perfect set of teeth. They sometimes, although very rarely, give compliments especially on smiles like that of a mongoloid (no intentional racial slur).

I sang two songs, and I heard myself sang them really badly.

Still I went home whole; my dignity, self-respect, and soul all intact.


7 thoughts on “The politics of comedy bars: how to avoid making yourself the object of comic ridicule”

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  2. Ah. Seems like you enjoyed it nonetheless. That’s all that matters. I told you to get crazy at times right? Count this in. Haha.

  3. uy, i said to the hosts that a second song was out of the question, that one song was enough to place me in such unredeemable position. but they seemed to have enjoyed the task of shaming me, so they asked me to sing another song. i think that me singing a second song wasn’t because i sang the first one decently but because they wanted to prolong the interview portion which was rather fun.

  4. They wouldn’t let you sing a second song not unless you sang decently the first time or you volunteered to do another one. Which one is it?

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