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Pinoy comedians showcase their talents

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TEN Filipino comedic powerhouses unite in LOL: Last One Laughing Philippines, a series which premiered on July 4 on Prime Video. LOL is a six-part competition where the contestants face off in a showdown, with the goal to make others laugh without cracking up themselves.

Filmed over six hours, the 10 participants test their comedic prowess and self-control, every moment captured by multiple cameras to accurately determine the winner.

The show gives viewers a front-row seat to the clash of humor and endurance of the participating comics — Victor Anastacio, Jayson Gainza, Pepe Herrera, Chad Kinis, Empoy Marquez, Kim Molina, Jerald Napoles, Negi, Tuesday Vargas, and Rufa Mae Quinto. The show’s host is box office star and comedian Vice Ganda.

Though most of the contestants have been in show business for decades, one stands out as the biggest threat to the rest.

“Pinagtulungan nila ako kaya lagi akong galit (They ganged up on me which is why I was always mad),” said Ms. Quinto at a press conference at Okada Manila in Parañaque City on June 28.

As a Filipino actress and comedian with naturally exaggerated mannerisms and tone of voice, she treated the show as a chance to enjoy showing off her skills with younger comedians.

For Ms. Molina — the youngest in the cast but with a background in singing, theater, and acting — being with comedians she admired was challenging.

“Tinitingala ko kasi lahat kasi ako ang pinaka-bata. Idol ko silang lahat (I look up to all of them since I’m the youngest. They’re all my idols),” she said at the press conference.

She said that at one point, she simply chose to cry so that she wouldn’t laugh at the others’ hilarious antics. Another challenge was that her longtime onscreen and real-life partner, Jerald Napoles, was also in the cast.

Mr. Napoles explained that the two of them did not allow their relationship to get in the way as they just focused on the competition.

He did mention the effect of creating the series in the age of cancel culture. “People are more opinionated now and they can choose and filter what they like. We’re hoping that, because of social media, people are more aware of different types of comedy. We as comedians get to enjoy the variety,” he said.

The LOL: Last One Laughing format is available in 13 countries on Prime Video, with the Italy, France, and Germany versions being the most watched in their respective territories. There are also versions of the show in Mexico, Australia, India, Spain, Canada, The Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Sweden.

Alongside the newly released Filipino adaptation, LOL: Last One Laughing Thailand and LOL: Last One Laughing Indonesia also premiered this July.

“Filipinos can expect local touches in their edition, such as setting it at bahay ni lola (grandmother’s house), with a set built from the ground-up and backed by months of planning and pre-production,” said Darin Darakananda, head of central scripted series and movies for Amazon’s international originals.

However, the mechanics across all franchises are the same — any laugh, smile, or even lifting of the corners of lips will warrant a warning. The second time an individual receives a warning equals their elimination.

The cast was handpicked carefully to ensure an interesting mix of diverse professional backgrounds, from comedy bar stalwarts to stand-up performers to funny theater and onscreen actors.

Randolph Longjas, director of LOL: Last One Laughing Philippines, added that he had watched other versions of the franchise prior to filming theirs.

“I’m now super proud with our brand of comedy that can match and even outmatch the others. Vice Ganda is also the only host of any LOL franchise who is from the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer plus) community,” he said.

Mr. Ganda explained that, as host, it was his privilege to sit back and enjoy the “six-hour free show” that the 10 contestants provided — but he also had to watch them to make sure no one laughed.

“Noong una natatawa ako, pero mamaya napapahanga na rin (At first I felt the laughter, but later it turned into admiration).In comedy, you can see the soul of the person,” he said.

“Napapangiti nito ang mukha at napapasaya nito ang puso (Comedy lights up the face and it also brings joy to the heart).”

LOL: Last One Laughing Philippines officially premiered its first two episodes on Prime Video on July 4, with two more to be released each subsequent week. Prime Video is available in the Philippines for P149 per month. — Brontë H. Lacsamana

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