IT’S hard to ignore Red Ollero. He stands a little over six feet tall and possesses a certain stature. He has appeared in movies, produces and writes for Comedy Manila and Solid OK, and he opened for the sold-out Mall of Asia Arena show of Filipino-American comedian Jo Koy. That show had an audience of thousands, a fact one can’t ignore, because he reminds you of it in the first few minutes of his special, Red Ollero Live at the Paper Lantern.

Mr. Ollero is streaming his 37-minute special, which was shot at a Solid OK open mic just a few days before the March lockdown. Tickets for the stream can be bought via, on a pay-what-you-want basis (P100 to P1,000), and all proceeds go towards a cause that’s ignominious to ignore: the charity efforts of Tulong Kabataan for victims of recent typhoons Rolly and Ulysses. As of the time of writing, Mr. Ollero has already raised P30,000.

BusinessWorld was able to obtain a review copy of that show, and the jokes jump from his own large figure, buffets, the gym, the church, and all the people in them. A special highlight (for this reporter, at least) was his ability to sustain a chain of dick jokes for three whole minutes. I’m not joking (but he was). Frankly, the whole sequence left me pumping my fist, and the sheer feat of saying dick joke after dick joke for that measure of time is something to be applauded (depending on your taste, of course).

Of course it’s rude, and sometimes it could be rude. The jokes elicit laughs that aren’t quite ladylike. Your face would crumple at a full-on grimace (I noted this at a joke about communion wafers). This would certainly be a hit for irreverent 20 to 40-somethings, but anybody older might be wont to clutch their pearls (well, depending on how liberally they were raised). As he said himself during the special, “Buti napaka-open minded niyo; mga putangina niyo (It’s good that all of you are so open-minded, you sons of bitches).”

He delivers like your eloquent friend with a high tolerance for alcohol with hours of time on his hands. You can jump into the special at any time, and it will feel like you’ve walked in on an inuman (drinking session), and you’re sorry to be late. His observations are also quite deft (I again would like to point out his observations on communion wafers); not cheap shots at low-hanging fruit. He’s also aided with a physical aspect, thanks to a highly expressive face.

“As a child, I really enjoyed reading Pugad Baboy and listening to the albums of Rex Navarrete. I learned how our culture can be funny,” said Mr. Ollero in an interview with BusinessWorld. “I grew up and I would consume more content from the internet like Homestar Runner and Penny-Arcade, and they would do funny stuff I haven’t seen or heard before. [That] taught me how to look at something very differently from others. Finally, comedians like Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr taught me to not be afraid to speak my mind.” He has been performing, starting out as a teen, since 2007. Asked if he had always been funny, he said, “Maybe? I was voted ‘Most Cheerful’ in grade school.”

It’s easy to see what an audience gets from a show: the laughter, of course, but then one will also see another point of view of how the world works for other people. “Their laughter is the most desired response for a comedian. That’s all we really look for, that’s the primary purpose of my stand-up,” he said.

“The best comedy [comes from] things you don’t expect. That’s why I like taking mundane daily things that just happen and find the funny in them. The buffet joke came from real experiences, and I just exaggerated it for comedic effect. These are just things people say and I just took that logic and blew it up,” he said about his observations.

As one of this country’s most well-known acts, of course he’d know what this country might need for a more robust comedy industry. “We need more comedians, like a lot of really good ones. The more we are, the more shows we can do, the more people are going to know about us.”

Lockdown Laughs

RED Ollero isn’t quite alone. Here is a list of comedy offerings by members of Comedy Manila, presented in podcast formats since the lockdown.

KoolPals (on Spotify) – Comedy trio GB Labrador, James Caraan, and Nonong Ballinan say on their Facebook page, “Ang KoolPals ay isang podcast tungkol sa kahit ano. At kahit ano, kaya naming gawing nakakatawa! (KoolPals is a podcast about anything; and we make anything funny).” A vague proposition, but one that has made it a No. 1 trending podcast on Spotify (at least on Nov. 24).

Nagmamarunong (on Spotify and Facebook Live) – Another podcast in trio format, comedians Micah Andres (he usually starts the show riled up by the news), Andren Bernardo (the self-proclaimed “face that runs the place”), and Michael Saddi (who has a son) talk about whatever pops into their heads, and then argue about it.

The Kids are Asleep (Facebook Live) – Three dads: Jeps Gallon, Michael Saddi (from Nagmamarunong), and Jethro Trogo talk about raising their kids, the stock market, and other sundry, but they make it funny.

The Class Clown with Chino Liao (Spotify) – Mr. Liao has a wide variety of guests on his podcast, so while laughing you’ll also learn a lot from members of several industries: from sneakers to science.

Pusong Pinoy, Pusong Hapon (Facebook Live) – Comedians Israel Buenaobra and Yuri Horikoshi teach each other the rudiments of living in Manila and Japan (Mr. Horikoshi has been living in this city since 2016), while peppering it with dick jokes. Mr. Buenaobra also holds open mic nights every Friday for aspiring comedians.

Some of these acts will be performing for Comedy Manila’s upcoming Nov. 28 show, Feature Perfect, at 8:30 p.m., via Zoom. Tickets are available via Ticket2Me.Net for P300. Performers include Winer Aguilar, Micah Andres, Andren Bernardo, Ramon Cabochan, Jeps Gallon, Derf Hebrado, Roger Naldo, and Alexio Tabafunda.    JLG