The Vice and the joke gone bad

Many years back some of my school friends went to the now-defunct The Venue, dubbed as the Davao City's top nightspot/party place. The structure closed down four years ago and the building now hosts a call center company.

Anyways that particular evening had a popular Manila comedian oddly named Vice Ganda (way before she skyrocketed to showbiz fame) headlining a show. One of my friends was not a fan of Vice Ganda's type of comedy bar humor where one would poke fun at personalities and guests for their punchlines.

"Ano bang pinunta natin?" he kept on ranting.

"Sorry ha di ko talaga trip patawa nila." he said. Having been raised in Manila, he was familiar with the urban culture of the big city, one of which was presence of comedy bars as part and parcel of Manila's nightlife which we in Davao at that time were not that familiar.

We treated Vice Ganda's antics as a novelty, we laughed at her jokes especially when she made fun of the unwary guests. My friend since he had no choice as the classroom clique was decided on watching the show could only turn his head in disapproval.

By the time the show was over he decided to lecture the troop over the impropriety of the comedian's antics. Some of us felt that our friend was just KJ or kill joy.

I remembered this amid the flurry of social media responses to Vice Ganda's skit on her Araneta concert, a part of the comedy routine had the comedian ridiculing GMA Network vice president for news programs and well-respected broadcast journalist Jessica Soho, among the jokes included references to the broadcaster's weight and the sensitive topic of gang-rape.

Skipping over the propriety of Vice-Ganda's joke on Ms. Jessica Soho, I felt the material was weak, it was not FUNNY or it wasn't as funny as other Vice Ganda's comedic materials for her specialty is witty repartee and not engaging in skits, leave that to Pooh and Pokwang or to Jon Santos.

The jokes were flat which perhaps magnified the fury, every joke that makes fun or ridicules others is a gamble as to how people would perceive it and the consequences of their reactions. No matter how we try to rationalize that it is only a joke and we should take it in a light-hearted or level-headed matter, the fact is respect to one's dignity and character is an innate human right over and above the freedom of practicing one's trade or profession which for Vice Ganda is providing comedic entertainment to a paying audience.

Vice Ganda was not the only comedian who felt the fury of a public scorned over a joke gone wrong.

Take the case of Candy Pangilinan who was declared persona non grata by the city government of Baguio when she yelled out at a mall show held in Baguio  "Akala niyo Igorot ako, hindi ako Igorot, Tao po ako." 

Another incident was in the 1970s in Davao City when Dabawenyo Boholanos stormed the cinema showing the comedy film "Bol-anon ko Nyor."  (I Am A Boholano Sir) and nearly lynched the star of the movie Yoyoy Villame. The Bol-anons in Davao City were furious  at the movie as it had made fun of their people.

The script or story was actually based on a compilation of Boholano jokes compiled by its writer Satur Apoyon, a prolific Dabawenyo literary writer and journalist. The movie did not sit well with many Boholanos as they felt it was an act of insult. Because of tremendous pressure the movie bombed at the tills and the producers vowed never to make a film again in Davao City, the Dabawenyo film industry eventually died until it was reborn in the 21st century with the advent of digital regional indie films.


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