Writer – singer – songwriter – film scorer – mother – wife – toilet bowl cleaner – soft porn voiceover talent

My life is a box of hyphens.

Add yet another one: Stand-Up Comedian!

On June 30th, I debuted as a legit funny female person along with 5 of my classmates from the Laughter 101 Bootcamp Workshop, which was held for 3 weeks this month. Veteran comedian Jan Bannister runs the classes out of House of Comedy, which is the only remaining comedy club in the whole of British Columbia. Each of us had 5 minutes to do our set in front of a warm and supportive Canadian crowd. Each set was the result of 3 weeks of writing, editing, timing and pacing out our wholly original material.

My friends back home in the Philippines know me mainly as a singer and writer, doing both in a pretty serious, if sometimes dramatic, vein. So I bumped my head somewhere, burst that vein, and now I am a comedian.

Seriously: I’ve had enough of sad news. I’m going to spend my remaining days laughing the pak out of life – and doing it well.

Filipinos are funny as hell. Everyone who lives in a hell like the Philippines has to be, in order to survive. Some bright lights and too big noses have made my childhood worth living: Dolphy, Panchito, Cachupoy, Palito, Nida Blanca, Apeng Daldal, Redford White, Donya Buding, Rene Requiestas, Eddie Garcia, Wengweng, and of course, the unholy trifecta of TVJ, to name just a few.

The kind of comedy I grew up with was mainly around physicality. It was about cutting others to size with various quips and asides, which reflected the many issues that Filipinos had with their identity and social status and their desire to rise above them all. Pretty soon, however, my geeky, introverted self started searching for other varieties of comedy.

About one and a half years into my new life as a Canadian permanent resident, I discovered a Canadian comic in the news. By the time I’d discovered him, he was already a corpse, but far from lifeless. Quebec-born Norm MacDonald died in September 2021, but his comedy has since become immortal. Rabid fans started posting videos of his standups, SNL Weekend Updates, and his TV shows from the late 90s. Not only did I become a fan; I started becoming a little more Canadian through him. Norm’s comedy was existential, deep, timeless, and to me, truly heartbreakingly drop-dead funny.  

Last Christmas, I planned a trip to New York City with my family. Not to see the World Trade Center. Or Central Park. Or the Public Library. Or to take the A train – eventhough I ended up seeing all those things anyhow. My real goal was to walk across Norm’s former haunting grounds at 30 Rockefeller, and I got my biggest thrill just walking on West 49th and 50th and imagining he was there…

But this is not funny, I know. This is scary. Add one more hyphen, folks: STALKER.

Anyway, enjoy this video of me getting my first Canadian laughs on Canadian soil, and some photos of these very busy but rewarding three weeks of hard-won original comedy by a former drama queen.

This is dedicated to you, my Aba. You don’t need an appointment to check back in with me. You can visit me here in hell anytime you get time off from your heavenly chores.

Special thanks to Jan Bannister, our comedy mom, and my classmates Paul Falkowski, Matt Tomporowski, Nicole Ticknor, Stef Green and Ben Hui.