When Enrique Gil dares to look ‘ugly,’ promotes local comedy

When Enrique Gil dares to look ‘ugly,’ promotes local comedy

/ 12:20 AM February 20, 2024


Scene from ‘I am Not Big Bird’–ANIMA STUDIOS/ YOUTUBE

The stars of the adult comedy “I am Not Big Bird,” especially Enrique Gil—who coproduced it—said they hope the film steers local moviemaking to a direction where more films of the same genre will be produced.

“As a person who has done gigs in the basement of a Chinese restaurant—I still do that—I really hope comedy gets more exposure,” said stand-up comedian Red Ollero, who plays support to Enrique in the film. “There were times when we would do stand-up sessions before people began their salsa dancing in Mexican restaurants. That’s the path that the stand-up scene took in the Philippines.


“Right now, people are starting to watch Jo Koy and there are similar comedy shows on Netflix. They are starting to notice that there is another genre that Filipinos can dabble in. Hopefully, we can make more comedy, not only onstage, but also for the big screen.”


“We hope people will become more liberated, more open,” Enrique agreed.

“I noticed that we are more accepting when we watch foreign-produced comedy movies. Why is it that when it comes to local comedy, viewers become too sensitive? Why can’t we treat local and foreign comedies the same way?” argued actor-dancer Nikko Natividad. “I hope more comedy projects will be made after this one and that the Filipino audience will be more open—‘wag balat-sibuyas.”

Enrique plays Luis Carpio who gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity because of his uncanny resemblance to a popular Thai porn star named Big Bird.

‘Crazy and fun’

Red said the script doesn’t just offer comedy, but also attempts to tug at your heartstrings. “I joined the project because I knew working on it would be crazy and fun. But slowly, I’ve come to see the heart of the script. ‘Di puro kalokohan,” he said. “Honestly, I was afraid that I wasn’t suited for film. For this one, I had to step up because my coactors are really good. Plus, they told me Victor is directing and that Enrique was asking me to attend the go-see.”

He was referring to Victor Villanueva, who also directed the award-winning comedy “Patay na si Hesus,” starring Chai Fonacier and Cannes best actress Jaclyn Jose.

Meanwhile, Enrique is coproducing the project under his company Immerse Entertainment. “When you’re watching films, you want to be immersed in the experience, in the story—it just makes a lot of sense,” Enrique said as to why he decided to name his company as such.


“When you make a name for a production company, especially when you’re planning to release your films in international film festivals, you have to think global. All the other names I like were already taken, but not ‘immerse.’ It’s an existing company, but it closed during the pandemic. We just revived it. It’s a good thing we were able to keep ‘immerse,’ so that when we release this in festivals, no one will run after us. To be honest, there were a lot of names that I liked other than ‘immerse,’ but they were all taken—one was in South America and another was in Honduras.”

Enrique took a four-year break from show biz work when the pandemic hit. Instead, he focused on helping his mom in their build-and-sell business. “We finished three constructions—that’s a good thing. I’m still learning. It’s really my mom who is leading it. She handles the money, while I invest. It’s like the more I do as an actor, the more investment we have for construction because it takes a lot of money to do it,” he explained.

Comeback project

Meanwhile, Nikko said he agreed to be part of the film because it is Enrique’s comeback project, “And I know everybody would be excited to see it. It’s my first time working with him. My friends all wanted to know what Quen (Enrique’s nickname) is like. He’s someone who isn’t afraid to look ugly. Look at our poster—he doesn’t care how crazy he looks there.”

Red said they had fun shooting the film in Thailand. “Ninety-eight percent of what happened there we are not allowed to tell. What is certain is that we learned a lot from each other,” said Red. “I was nervous in the beginning because we weren’t really close, but it was already fun the moment we met at the airport. We didn’t have roommates, but toward the end of the shoot, we were already sharing a room with everybody.”

Enrique Gil


“We got wilder, eventually,” Enrique added. “Being in Thailand is not different from being in the Philippines. It’s also wild over here. Thai people are so accommodating. It’s like the Philippines, only the language is different.”

When asked what they hoped for their audience to take away from watching the film, Red said: “It’s a comedy, so I really hope this will make people laugh. I’ve been a live comedian all my adult life, so I already know if people would laugh or not the moment I deliver a punchline. This is different for me. I don’t know how people will receive it—I can’t see them. My only wish is for them to like the movie enough to ask for more.”

Nikko agreed by saying: “I want people to say, ‘This is something new, so I’m going to the cinema to see it.’ I’m just proud to be a part of something that will eventually make a difference.”

Enrique said so much can be learned from the experience of his character. “It’s about accepting yourself and being proud of who you are. We know that life can get crazy, sometimes, especially because we’re busy with work or are too focused on our love life. Let’s not forget our friends who genuinely care for us. We turn to them whenever we experience a heartbreak.”

He added: “While making this film, they kept asking me, ‘Is it OK with you to say your ‘bird’ is small? I would answer, ‘It’s only a movie. It’s not true, is it?’ It’s the same thing as when you say, ‘It takes a real man to wear pink.’ I have nothing to hide.”

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“I am Not Big Bird,” which also features Pepe Herrera, is a coproduction of Immerse Entertainment, Anima Studios and Black Sheep. It started screening in cinemas nationwide on Feb. 14. INQ

TAGS: Enrique Gil, Entertainment, I Am Not Big Bird

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