The only man we don’t mind seeing on TV with the Bubble Girls
Who remembers what was funny 22 years ago, when Bubble Gang first aired? That would be real tough to trace. Because the Internet was still new, and social media had yet to be invented, we really don’t have a record of what, at that moment, was the prevailing national joke. Today that wouldn’t be a problem. We have a legion of meme and hashtag creators to keep tabs of what’s funny in real time (in fact, the problem now could be that funny changes so fast it’s hard to keep up).
But what we do remember are Bubble Gang’s watershed moments: the advertising spoof segments that continue up to this day; Brod Pete’s Ang Dating Doon; the Muchas Grasas sketch; Sumbong Sumbong Kay Bonggang Bonggang Bongbong; Tata Lino. These segments are the equivalent of pop music hits in music—they tickled the funny bones of Pinoys so much so that they became part of our humor lexicon.
FHM would have loved to be the fly on the wall whenever the Bubble Gang writers met to thresh out the week’s episode. It would have been a masterclass at writing comedy—if it weren’t then they’d have no business being around for the last 22 years. As it is, they show no signs of slowing down.
So you can imagine what it must be like to be Michael V., Bubble Gang’s Creative Director. It’s almost as if his latest character, Tata Lino, is a self-fulfilling prophecy: right now he can honestly say that he is the old sage of Pinoy humor, keeper of the repository of what we find funny. The job can’t possibly be a joke... So what is the secret of Bubble Gang’s staying power? I’ve said this many times before, there is actually no secret. We’re just a bunch of people who want to make other people laugh. Kung may sikreto man, willing ako to share it with everyone else! I mean, if anyone can come up with one, two or three more “Bubble Gang’s” I will support them 100 percent. Ang daming malungkot sa mundo! Everyone deserves a good laugh every now and then. What kind of work does it take to keep a show running this long? The show entails a lot of work, especially for me who is both an artista and the creative director of the show. What you want isn’t always what you get and oftentimes, you have to sacrifice your vision. It could get frustrating at times but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes, the hurdles are just welcome challenges. How do you plan to keep it running longer? I honestly don’t know! Pero in line with what Wolverine always says, we’ll probably just do what we do best and hope it’s good enough. Wait... was that Wolverine or James Ingram? So what was funny 22 years ago and what is funny now? Malaking-malaki ang pagkakaiba ng comedy noon at ngayon! Madali lang patawanin ang mga tao noon eh! Madalas nga, adaptation or translation lang ng material, pwede na. Kaunti lang kasi ang source nila ng comedy noon. Pero with the arrival of the Internet, wala na! Lahat ng material, available na! If you can’t produce original ones, people, especially sa social media, will label you as fake, copycat, unoriginal... lahat ng mga masakit na salita! How do you keep yourselves from being unoriginal? I guess we learn from our mistakes... and from others’, too. We welcome criticism from our peers and the ever-reliable social media. Kaya kami nai-inspire to create mostly original materials. If we do, however, get inspired by other people’s material, we just get the formula, rearrange its DNA and come up with an original take on it. We always add a twist to our adapted materials para hindi blatant na pangongopya lang. In this generation of virtual critics and comics, originality is almost always the natural solution. So here’s the wisdom question: What do Pinoys really find funny? Pinoys still laugh at the staples: slapstick, green jokes, insults... you know, the low hanging fruit. The challenge however is to try and raise the standard just a little bit every episode by offering our audience something new from time to time. If we get one or two or three to appreciate what we’re doing, then not only do we achieve our goal, we actually do all Pinoys a favor. And everybody wins.fhm