What makes a great stand-up comedian?
Rolling Stone magazine adeptly described its criteria when it named this year its Top 50 Stand-Up Comics of All Time:
“In coming up with our version of a comic canon, we weighed artistic merit, technical proficiency and sense of timing, quality of their written material, their delivery and degree of influence — and often, their sense of what makes something, anything, funny. No disrespect to the foundational figures who shaped the earliest incarnations, but this list tiptoes past some of the early craftsmen and focuses on the unique voices who have helped to push stand-up forward in more recent days. These 50 stand-ups best embody what we have come to expect of our modern-day comedians: Someone who can wake us up to the weird, wonderful possibilities of the world around us, impel us to think differently about our own lives – and most of all, make us howl like blithering idiots.”
Well, Jose Marie Viceral a.k.a. Vice Ganda is not in that list, maybe because his comedy appeals primarily to a singular but growing and fiercely loyal global audience: the Filipinos. But that doesn’t mean that he is no less the “comic canon” or comedy powerhouse that he is today. He does meet the criteria and more.
Landing this year among the Top 10 highest earners in Philippine showbiz, Vice Ganda has starred in six of the highest grossing films in Philippine cinema, has become one of the most popular hosts of ABS-CBN TFC’s highly rated “It’s Showtime”, hosts his own top rated talk show, “Gandang Gabi, Vice”, has produced chart-topping singles like “Karakaraka,” “Whoops Kiri,” and the anthemic “Boom Panes,” which turned into dance crazes, and became the first openly gay endorser for a major product in the Philippines.
All the above do not just comprise impressive feats, but show strength in character from a boy in a family of seven who grew up in the challenging environs of Tondo, and whose father, a barangay captain, was murdered when he was young, forcing his mother to go overseas and work as a caregiver to support them.
Vice Ganda started as a singer but developed his comedic talent in comedy clubs in the Philippines, alongside other famous comedians Chokoleit, Pooh, John Lapus and Rey Kilay. His brand of comedy is sarcasm, tracing its lineage to what its original American practitioner, Don Rickles, described as the “Comedy of Insult.”
But instead of being insulted, the members of the audiences of Vice Ganda actually felt flattered about being singled out in the “hot seat of humiliation” as crowds laughed uncontrollably. It’s like being roasted as a celebrity. And the whole experience makes them forget about worries, problems or concerns at least for a while.
Moreover, according to “Sarcasm and Criticism as Basis of Filipino Humor: An Interactional Sociolinguistics Approach to Exchange of Jokes among College Students by Lablynn Yvette F. Bautista”, “researchers from University of San-Jose Recoletos studied the role of sarcasm and criticism on Filipino humor. Half of 100 participants stated that they gain more confidence from mimicking Viceral’s style of humor, while 64% of the respondents said that they usually imitate Viceral’s sarcasm during conversations with other people.”
So, even as some may be shocked by Vice Ganda’s off-color humor, which is definitely not for minors, his brand of comedy is not just a temporary remedy for sadness; it has its own empowering quality.
America now has their chance to witness and experience a live Vice Ganda show by way of his U.S. tour, “Pusuan Mo Si Vice Ganda: Nagmahal. Nasaktan. Nag-concert. (Fall in love with Vice Ganda. He loved, got hurt, and had a concert). Just a caveat: parental guidance is strongly recommended. The tour is making stops in Kissimmee, Florida on March 25; Houston, Texas on March 26; San Diego, California on March 31; and Los Angeles, California on April 1.
For venue and ticket details and promos, visit http://www.tfc-usa.com/viceganda/
Here are the highlights of “Pusuan Mo Si Vice Ganda” concert: