Janno Gibbs, Anjo Yllana gearing up for ‘hidden surprises’ in reunion film
It has been three decades since Janno Gibbs and Anjo Yllana formed what would be one of the 1990s’ most popular comedy duos. But despite having headlined numerous movies and long-running sitcoms, the two actors believe that they still have new things to offer.
“The camaraderie and brotherhood have grown even more through the years. I think we have yet to max out our tandem. I’m sure there will be hidden surprises … new things and nuances that will come out as we work together again,” Anjo said in a recent online press conference for “Hello, Universe,” his upcoming reunion film with Janno.
Anjo and Janno became television fixtures in the 1990s and 2000s with the sitcoms “Ober Da Bakod” (1992-97) and “Beh Bote Nga” (1999-2003), as well as the variety show “Nuts Entertainment” (2003-08).
“I feel like we have proven ourselves in the past that we can make people laugh. We will be doing our first movie in a long while, so hopefully we can show some new things,” said Anjo, who looks forward to doing more projects with Janno in the future now that they’re both with Viva Entertainment.
“I hope we can make the most out of our team-up here. When we’re together, we talk about the things and stories we haven’t done yet,” he added.
Directed by Xian Lim, “Hello, Universe” follows Ariel (Janno), a frustrated basketball player who now languishes as a worker at a fertilizer company.
Anjo plays Rocky, the loyal best friend who never fails to support and cheer Ariel up.
“We miss acting together… We play best friends and I believe our closeness in real life will be an advantage here. You can’t fake and manufacture the kind of connection we have. And that will come out naturally,” related Janno, who hosted the short-lived Net 25 noontime variety show “Happy Time” with Anjo in 2020. “We’re like brothers.”
So strong was their chemistry back in the day that they could work their way through scenes without a script. “I remember the days when Janno and I would do whole scenes only with ad-libs,” Anjo added. “We had good vibes, onscreen and off.”
Janno and Anjo’s style of comedy is reflective of what was popular back in the 1990s—a mix of slapstick, snappy wisecracks and jokes that qualify as “tito jokes” nowadays.
“Funny is funny; it’s universal. When you know what makes people laugh and what doesn’t, that’s it. Hindi nagbabago ‘yun. And with the younger generation … perhaps our style will be new to them and their tastes,” Janno said. “Anjo and I are actors. We depend on our director and the story on how to deliver. This story is entirely different, so definitely, our approach will be different, too.”
“The younger audiences weren’t able to watch what comedy was like back then. So maybe now is a good time for veterans like us to reintroduce our comedy while reinventing ourselves and adapting to new comedy styles—ganern!” Anjo said.
And this is where working with a younger director like Xian comes in. “It’s so refreshing to collaborate with young new directors. Some people are already used to our style of comedy, but these young talents can help present that in a more modern way. So it’s a good combination to have young directors and veteran actors,” Janno said.
While Xian isn’t exactly known for comedy, Janno believes that his younger coworker has what it takes to direct a comedy project. “You don’t have to be a comedian to do that. As long as you can tell the story well and listen to other people’s inputs, you’re good. The comedy part is our job,” Janno said.
It also helps, he added, that Xian is an actor himself. “He knows how to motivate us because he knows what we go through—the process of acting, the experiences. So it’s much easier for us and for him as well,” Janno said.
Anjo, on the other hand, felt comfortable with Xian from the get-go. “When we were doing script-reading I could see that he truly appreciated how we delivered our lines. Natatawa siya. If we work together, I think we can help improve the script and the delivery of the scenes—not just with words, but with expressions,” he said. “He’s hands-on and very supportive.” INQ