Producer plans to expand the country’s comedic universe

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BRINGING laughs to Manila soon: (L-R) Ahmed Ahmed, Paul Ogata, and D’Ilruk Jayasinha.

FILIPINOS love to laugh (hardly a national secret) but while they are used to the kind of humor found in comedy bars where the comedians poke fun at members of the audience, Dilip K. Budhrani is seeking to expand the Filipino comedy horizon to include stand-up comedy.

“[I started this] because I don’t think anyone’s doing it and I think the Philippines deserves to be in the comedy map. It’s a matter of trying to educate the audience that there is this kind of comedy,” Mr. Budhrani told BusinessWorld during an interview on Oct. 11 in PowerPlant Mall in Makati City.

He said he first started this venture – called Prime I events, which focuses on producing comedy shows – between 2014 and 2015 and has so far done almost 10 shows.

“There is so much talent and I believe that we should be able to bring it to the Philippines and try to get a small market or a segment to appreciate stand-up comedy,” he explained.

While he admits that the shows are a bit of a hard sell – though he qualified that while it isn’t exactly easy to sell tickets, it’s not that difficult either – he believes that there is a market for stand-up comedy in the Philippines as his audience has grown from a small gathering of 80 at the start to 200.

Mr. Budhrani cited two stand-up comedy groups in the Philippines – Comedy Central and Comedy Cartel – who are doing their own thing in honing talents.

And because he think there is a market (and he is working in growing it), he dreams of establishing the first Manila International Comedy Festival in the next two years which will feature more than 10 stand-up comics over a two-day event, like our Asian neighbors – Malaysia has the Kuala Lumpur International Comedy Festival while Hong Kong has its own international comedy festival, among many others.

Currently, Mr. Budhrani is promoting two shows: Triple Trouble, to be held on Oct. 24, and Laugh It Off on Nov. 27, both at the I’M Hotel Makati. Each show will feature comics from Canada, the US, Australia, and Malaysia.

“The other comedy we’re used to is the Library [kind] where they have drags and they have impersonators and they keep on talking and taunting the audience… which is okay, but what we’re trying to do – I don’t know if ‘elevate’ is the right word – but we’re trying to educate and bring more ‘intelligent comedy,’ if I may call it as such,” he said.

“There’s hardly any bad words or expletives words used unlike in the Philippines where you say five or six curse words and it becomes a punchline. We’re trying to go with stories of everyday lives,” he added.

The Triple Trouble show will feature Ahmed Ahmed, an American comedian who has the winner of the first annual Richard Pryor Award for Ethnic Comedy in Scotland in 2005; Dan Quinn, considered one of Canada’s top comics with over 20 years of experience (his comedy “has been known to be very personal and relatable,” according to his artist profile furnished by Mr. Budhrani); and D’Ilruk Jayasinha, a Sri Lankan comic based in Melbourne. Mr. Jayasinha has been a frequent performer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and has also made his Australian TV debut on Have You Been Paying Attention?

The Nov. 27 show will feature American comic Paul Ogata who is known for chronicling “the stupid people in the world, and without remorse, exposes them for [the audience’s] enjoyment.” He will perform alongside Rizal Van Geyzel, whose style “lands somewhere between the profound and the absurd.” He also made his debut this year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017.

Both shows will be hosted by Alex Calleja, one of the country’s top comedians who was named first runner-up at Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in the World held in Finland last year.

The shows starts at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are P1,500 (VIP) and P1,000 (Standard), not including the P600 charge per head for consumables.

For ticket inquiries and reservations, contact (0917) 570-3057, (0920) 971-7055, and (0956) 869-9889. – Zsarlene B. Chua