by Isabella Argosino
It might seem like the ultimate dream job: Getting paid to be funny. But for Joel Balbuena, comedy is so much more than just reciting lines from a joke book or having someone to poke fun at. Having performed last month during Satchmi’s Anniversary Party, Balbuena has shown us a little bit about the finer aspects of comedy, which is a far-cry from the local industry’s choice method of put-down humor. For Balbuena, comedy is an art form to be taken seriously – something a lot of people would find paradoxical, but that’s exactly what makes it so interesting. We spoke with the comedian about the science behind humor, how he started out, and one thing he absolutely cannot joke about.
1.) How did you get into comedy?
Well you could say I was into comedy at a very young age. I always loved being the class clown and there was just something about making people laugh that gave me a sense of fulfillment that I can’t fully put in words. But I got into point-ofview stand-up comedy back in 2007, where I joined Jack TV’s “Lafapalooza”. I remember doing my audition set in a spider-man costume. But after the contest ended, I took a hiatus from stand-up to focus on college. The next time I hit the stage to do stand-up again was in April of 2014.
2.) What can you say about comedy as an art form?
I find comedy to be a paradoxical form of art. Because in stand-up, your material is made up of jokes, and the essence of jokes somehow contradicts itself in this way: Jokes are not supposed to be taken seriously, but to right jokes, you have to be serious about it. So in a manner of speaking, jokes are seriously written and prepared to not be taken seriously. It’s like trying to mix fire with water and the whole process of this paradoxical art form is what engrossed me to practice it. (That was some pretty deep philosophical stuff back there but at the end of the day, it’s just a really interesting art form)
3.) What’s the best and worst thing about being in the comedy industry?
Let me start with the worst. Sadly the comedy industry that is prevalent in our country is the put-down or “okrayan” kind of comedy. Where the comics will take whatever defects they can find from their audiences and put them on stage for them to make fun of. If you’re not the object of the “okray” well it is pretty hilarious but it is degrading for the object of the joke. Its success has proven that it works, but in my opinion, I find it a very cheap way to get laughs. Because no joke, no matter how good it is should be at the expense of the dignity of someone in the audience.
4.) What inspires you?
The chance to perform in bigger groups of people is the one of the main drives that inspires me to keep outdoing myself in terms of the jokes I produce and perform. I just find inspiration to continue doing comedy at the prospect of being able to perform for more people.
5.) Do you have any favorite comedy pieces?
Jim Carrey’s Unnatural Act, and Eddie Murphy’s RAW are one of my favorite comedy pieces. The antics of Wally Bayola and Jose in Eat Bulaga crack me up as well.
6.) What advice can you give to budding comedians?
My best advice would be is that if you are really passionate about comedy, then don’t ever stop. Keep pursuing it until you find your rhythm and when you do get your groove, always be humble. Jokes always come first before ego.
7.) You can be as silly or as serious as you want with this question, but what is one thing you cannot joke about?
Well probably any material about the Binays. Because every Binay joke is too DARK. (Get it? Dark. *laughs while typing this*)