For these seasoned performers, comedy is serious business
Many viewers rely on comedians to entertain them and make them forget about their daily woes. For them, jokes should be taken with a grain of salt. But for seasoned comedian Lou “Mr. Truman” Veloso, comedy is serious business.
“In the ’70s and ’80s, comedy was very physical,” Lou recalled in Filipino. “The audience enjoyed seeing performers fall flat on their faces. People enjoyed poking fun at disability and physical imperfections, and comics were only too happy to slap each other’s faces or beat each other up to generate roaring laughter.
“But comedy has evolved through the years. Nowadays, it’s more situational than physical—viewers laugh because the comedians’ lines are witty, not just because they look funny. In fact, in the guise of entertaining, comedy is being utilized these days to tackle relevant issues affecting the world we live in.”
Lou, who has been reaping acclaim for his dramatic roles recently (in indies like “Da Dog Show” and “Hiblang Abo,” where he was adjudged best supporting actor at the Cinemalaya fest), said that a performer shouldn’t just rely on his knack for comedy; he needs to read his script carefully and be aware of what’s happening around him.
Preparation is key, he said, if you want your gag to work. Talent is important, but it isn’t enough. Success in comedy requires a combination of talent and hard work—and comic timing is a special skill honed further by a comedian’s experiences and influences.
In this forum, Lou and some of the industry’s brightest and most promising comedians—Pokwang, Sef Cadayona, Chariz Solomon and Michael V—talk about who their biggest influences were, what makes comedy effective, and why comedy is no laughing matter.
Lou: When I was just starting in the business, my biggest influence was Panchito. Dolphy, his formidable partner, may have been the bigger star, but I found Panchito’s impeccable timing and wit sharper. I also looked up to Charlie Chaplin because he made comedy look easy. When he delivered his gags, his movement looked fluid—he seemed to “float” through his scenes.
Pokwang: There was nobody better than Dolphy—as far as comedy was concerned, he was magical. All he needed was to stand in front of an audience and he’d make them laugh. He was multitalented. He knew how to entertain people because he could sing, act and dance. He could make me alternately laugh and cry—he was that effective.
I think he was also effective at what he did because he was innately kind and compassionate. He was the King of Comedy because he embodied a lot of things—napakahusay n’ya sa trabaho (he was exceptional at his job) at mapagmahal sa katrabaho (and he loved his coworkers) from his fellow actors to the utility men on set.
Michael V: We have a lot of great comedians, but Dolphy, Tito Vic and Joey, and the Bad Bananas were essential to the progression of Pinoy comedy. Dolphy’s style was very visual—sometimes, his facial expressions were enough to make people laugh, and it didn’t hurt that his ability to deliver punch lines was without equal. He was a total performer.
Sef Cadayona: The top guys for me are Will Ferrell and Vic Sotto. They’re charismatic performers who possess impeccable comedic timing. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their punch lines don’t feel forced—subtle lang sila. Their strong screen presence is hard to ignore.
Chariz Solomon: Kuya Bitoy (Michael V) is exceptional. His comedy is realistic, and he executes his gags well—his impersonations look and feel natural, which is probably why people relate to him. I love sharing scenes with him because he doesn’t care what he looks like when he’s performing.
When he portrays women, they don’t look very feminine, but they don’t come off too gay either—hindi babaeng bading ang dating. Feel na feel n’ya, because his character sketches come from the heart. He may have repeatedly inhabited some of his wacky characters, but he knows how to keep them fresh and relatable.
One of the many reasons why his performances feel genuine is because televiewers see through his humility—he’s a good family man who cares about the people around him.
I also like the humor of former child actress Raven Symoné (of “The Cosby Show”), whose relaxed performing style I admire and emulate.
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