"Sakto. Nagpa-wax nga ako eh. Pero bigyan mo ko ng one year. Kausapin ko si Raymond Gutierrez."
Those were comedian Tim Tayag's first words when he met FHM for an exclusive interview. Unfortunately, we didn't schedule a racy photo shoot, yet he was gracious and comical enough to talk about his craft and even crack us up in the process.
The 44-year-old stand-up pioneer is one of the several funnymen who will literally play for laughs in the new iflix comedy series, Hoy! Bibig Mo—the first original production in the Philippines of the video-on-demand service. Hosted by Ramon Bautista, the country's "edgiest comedy club" is a reflection of the Pinoy's lighthearted disposition even in the face of adversity.
Just in time for the show's premiere, Tayag reminisced about his unforgettable moments as a standup-comic in the Philippines, as well as how local humorists like him are pushing the boundaries of comedy in such a conservative setting.
What or who do you consider is your wellspring of humorous material?
Mostly, kumukuha ako kung ano yung currently na nangyayari sa buhay ko. Like now I'm married with three kids, so my topics now are more about those things, as opposed to 10 years ago, nung single pa ko, it was more about dating. I think family madalas for Filipinos, because kin-oriented tayo eh—a lot of jokes about your Mommy, or if you're married, yung asawa mo. Pag Filipino talaga, 'Uy, tawag ka ni Mama.' Takot na tayo kaagad, ha ha!
Are there any subject matter that you make a conscious effort to stay away from?
Personally, pag politics, (medyo off). If you say anything about, you know, Duterte or yung mga EJK, ganyan. If I can, I'll avoid those topics for now. Medyo sensitive eh... Kasi I have topics until now, 50-50 eh. My mom is a single mom, and then my wife was one before I married her. I have jokes about that, which I've been doing for a long time. Pero minsan may audience pa rin, makikita mo parang *does death stare*.
But where's the fun in that?
That license—to cross the line—comes with responsibility. Just because you're a stand-up, doesn't mean you can joke about anything...na you have to be funny and you have to tackle that topic in a way na alam mong you're trying to prove a point. Hindi lang yung, "Ha, I'll just joke about rape!" The more sensitive the topic is, kailangan mas ingat ka na, "Okay, ano ba yung gusto kong sabihin tungkol dito?"
What are your rules on preparation and spontaneity when it comes to your act?
Nagpe-perform ka, biglang may tumawa nang malakas sa joke mo, papansinin mo. Kailangan tawagin mo rin yung nakikita mo. May ganun ka dapat na (dynamic)... Siguro magandang analogy yung Waze. Kunwari punta tayo sa Greenhills. So alam mo yung route mo, "magsi-C5 ako, magle-left ako sa ganun." Pero as you're driving, oh, na-cut ka ng motor, iiwas ka, so yun yung balance between knowing what you're going to do, but at the same time you have wiggle room.
Has social media been a boon or bane for stand-up comics?
When I first started doing stand-up in the Philippines, they always thought, "So kumakanta ka? Bakla ka?" But because of the internet, my job is now easier kasi di ko na kailangang i-explain na ganito yung ginagawa ko. It allows me to reach more people, if I post my videos and jokes online. Yung negative, well, you could be taken out of context. Also, your jokes could be stolen. But overall, the positive outweighs the few negatives.
Is it possible to import Pinoy jokes in front of a foreign audience?
I did a show a long time ago in France. French yung audience, their English is, I don't know, limited, although they understand. I did the show in English, tapos meron akong joke about "Psst," sabi ko, "Filipinos, we can communicate just with this sound. We could say different things like, Psst, you forgot your cell phone." And they got it... If I'm going to say a joke about Anne Curtis, hahanap ako ng celebrity counterpart. (Dito) if I mention EDSA, alam nila traffic kaagad yan.
Hailing from the States, did you experience some sort of culture shock here?
When I was doing comedy there, I was a minority. I'll say whatever I want and I can get away with it. Pagdating dito, "Ay matapobre yung jokes" ang dating sa kanila. One of my jokes: "You know the squatters...ay, sorry. They're called informal settlers, pwera na lang kung naka-barong yan, formal settler yun." Pero what I realized is you have to put down yourself first, kasi di nila ma-gets na I'm making fun not of the poor, but I'm making fun of making fun of the poor.
Can you recall a performance that you think has been the highlight of your career?
One of the worst and best times I had was in 2005, pinadala ako sa Doha (Qatar) for the Asian Games as a stand-up comedian. First night ko pa lang, I realized 90% of the audience, hindi marunong mag-English. Yung mga Pinoy, hindi pa nanonood! It's mostly, from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, iba-iba eh. Eh I rely on language. Dun talaga naiyak na ko on the first week, kasama ko yung magician, si Erik Mana. Sabi ko, "I have to change my act. This won't work."
How did that turn out?
So ang ginawa ko, stupid magic. Na-develop nang na-develop, tapos kinukuha ko yung audience, hanggang sa naging super nakakatawa yung show ko, na wala na akong sinasabing words at all. "Finger-dini" pa yung name ng character ko. The next three weeks, biglang it was the best time. It was funny kasi there was a point na sobrang nakakatawa yung ginagawa ko, si Eric Mana na totoong magician, sabi niya, "That one night, I was afraid to follow you."
But has there been an instance where nobody laughed at your jokes?
May ginawa akong show sa Bulacan, matagal na to eh. School siya, kasabay ko sila Jon Santos tsaka SPIT (Improv). Biglang sabi ng organizers wala yung students, tapos lumabas sila, tinawag nila yung mga naglalakad dun, tricycle at jeepney drivers. Eh yung 90% ng material ko English, and yung jokes ko, I'll admit it, hindi siya for that particular audience. So nag-bomb ako for 10 minutes. Pero wala, you just kind of brush it off and then you do another show.
Consisting of eight episodes of no-holds-barred comedy, Hoy! Bibig Mo is now available for streaming or download on iflix