IF YOU find yourself having very few things to laugh about in 2020, Comedy Manila might be able to help.

The stand-up collective is holding a show aptly named Online Show Of The Future, on Saturday, July 25, at 8:30 p.m., via Zoom. Tickets are priced at P600, but an all-headliner show featuring James Caraan, Nonong Ballinan, GB Labrador, Victor Anastacio, Yuki Horikoshi, Alex Calleja, and Ryan Rems, and Red Ollero will make it worth it.

Mr. Ollero discussed the line-up for Saturday: “We were doing ‘Best of Comedy Manila’ shows in theaters all over Metro Manila. These are bona fide headliner comedians, the best of the best, each one of these comics can headline their own shows. When we do these shows, we get a big venue so it’s even more awesome.”

The show, Mr. Ollero said, is “basically a Zoom call, and we use the Spotlight feature on whoever is performing. And these are all live performances, no pre-recorded sets; we want to simulate being in a live show.”

Of course, part of a show’s fun for everyone in the room, both for the performers and the audience, is the sound of shared laughter. It’s hard to imagine working up a crowd that isn’t quite there, but, as Mr. Ollero said in an e-mail: “Physically they’re not [present], but thanks to video conferencing technology, we can actually get live feedback from them. It’s possible to respond to their laughter, and do whatever kind of crowd work you want to.”

“Nothing beats the live experience but this has some advantages,” he said. “Like you don’t have to go through traffic to catch the show, you don’t even have to be in the same city or country!”

“We’re going to keep using this format until we can do live shows again, whenever that may be. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, so we’re getting comfy with this in the meantime.”

Due to live performances and mass gatherings being placed on hold, many of Comedy Manila members have brought their jokes online via online shows (some weekly, some daily). Asked about how these members are bearing up, he said, “They’re doing quite well, some of them have gotten a good number of followers and I’m happy for them. I mean, it still doesn’t fill up all the business we lost because of COVID-19, but I’m hoping eventually it will.”

We’ve passed at least two seasons of grief due to a virus and other forces. While the prospect of a laugh or two might sound alien in these circumstances, Comedy Manila holds on. Asked about why they thought of staging the show, Mr. Ollero said, “It’s simply because we love doing what we do. At its very core, we do stand-up because we love doing it. Brand relevance, ticket sales, those are just things we worry about so we have more awesome shows.”

“Every member of our group is like that, even before the lockdown. I opened for Jo Koy in MOA Arena for 9,000 people; my next show I was in front of 10 people in the basement of a Chinese restaurant. Some shows may be more special than others, but all of them I love doing. It’s a big ‘fuck you’ to the virus. Even though people can’t gather in one place it doesn’t mean the show stops.”

And it isn’t hard to find laughter in the middle of a pandemic. “There’s a lot to laugh about almost every day,” said Mr. Ollero. “The best comedians can write jokes about anything. And during times like right now, people could use a good laugh. Laughter can take people to a place where the real world can’t affect you, even for just a moment.  It’s gonna be worth it.”

For tickets to the show, visit facebook.com/ComedyManila, and click the link https://ticket2me.net/e/27923/BestofComedyManilaOnline. The page also displays schedules of their members’ shows. — Joseph L. Garcia