Sunday, July 31, 2005

[Blog Entry] Stress, Comedy Kills


Work is finally taking its toll on me, now more than ever. Mind and body is getting more and more fragile to the point that I want to throw away my mobile phone, but doing so leaves me incapable of doing work (you’d be surprised at how many photo shoots can be organized thanks to a text message or two). The only thing that provides my mind with reprieve are the weekly RPG games I’m part of, but unfortunately, that’s taking a toll on my body as well (when you work from 9 am – 6 pm, and game from 7 pm to 4 am, well, how much time does that leave for food, sleep, and even checking email?).

Ironically enough, the only thing that’s not taking a drop is my spirit. There’s nothing like adversity to keep you praying to God over and over again. Because honestly, there’s not much I can do once all is said and done. It’s left to the other people involved, and the best thing I can do is pray to calm my nerves. When that isn’t enough, I just mention litany after litany of prayers. Some would say it’s a futile gesture, but hey, that’s why it’s called faith.

Comedy Kills

Some people might find this amusing, but as a kid, there was a point in time when I wanted to be a comedian. This can be mainly attributed to my addiction to watching Seinfeld on cable TV, but it’s also due to the constant teasing I received in school, and how I had to make witty replies to lash back at them (which I later discovered only resulted in them giving you a hard smackdown).

Of course to those who know me, this would be a big surprise. I am, after all, the stoic guy who’s silent and says little. Charles doing comedy is like… the joke itself. Lately, there’s my half-hearted attempts, but that only leaves my audience baffled (they obviously didn’t get the joke, and my execution needs improvement), or laughing for the wrong reasons. The only time I remember someone appreciating my work of comedy was a year ago when I was working on a top-secret, cancelled project. It was a collaboration though, and many thought the funny parts came from my collaborator (and I can’t blame them, because my collaborator is talented in making people laugh). There was this instance, for example, when the protagonists were facing this evil army of sheep, and of course, I name their oversized robot Lamb-bot (Filipinos will recognize that the word for soft or weak is “lambot”).

But bad jokes isn’t the reason why I didn’t pursue a career as a comedian. I was possessed by the spirit of altruism (there was a time when I was the popular kid, had lots of friends, and teased everyone else; suffice to say, I changed) and one of the things I didn’t want to do was offend people. Let’s face it, jokes are offensive. Perhaps not to the audience we’re performing for, but certainly to the person we’re talking about. And while not all jokes center around people, the best ones usually do (just watch The Jay Leno Show or Conan O’Brien and take note of which parts you laugh at).

I’m not saying that comedy is bad for people. But rather one should be prepared for it. For every joke you make, be prepared for people who take offense. And believe me, they will take offense. Some might laugh it off, or join in the laughter. But there will also be those who are sensitive to the traumas in their life. Hey, I wish everyone would take jokes in stride. But obviously, not everyone will. Rex Navarette, during a talking show here in the Philippines, once talked about doing 9-11 jokes. He couldn’t successfully do it in the US, mainly because people weren’t ready for it yet. They took offense.

Strangely enough, nowadays I’m made of sterner stuff. A little bit more bold, a little bit more courageous. That also means that I’m not out to please everyone, and my writing will certainly provoke some people (but hey, taking a stand wasn’t always popular). Occasionally, I make a crack like Elbert being gay (he’s not, by the way), but I just end up getting complaints from his friends. Which is why I’m glad I’m not doing comedy (at least not without an anonymous pseudonym).


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