Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Laughing through a roast

Today, with cable, we can get anything we want--within the parameters of decency, of course--from the television screen. If not at the time we want it, then all we need to do is be patient. So, for would-be dance divas, the dance contests that highlight the best dancers and the best choreographers. And for those who don't care for dancing, a multiplicity of options: one-man comedy acts, nonstop drama/melodrama series, musicals, art shows, news, sports.

Back in the '70s and '80s, the choices for Filipino televiewers were very limited. Once you found a good thing, you had to hold on to it and hope there were others doing so and that, together, you could organize enough critical mass to sway the decision-makers, whether in local or foreign networks.

Of course, I wondered sometimes if they ever listened to me. I never got telephone calls from survey companies asking me what shows I watch on television, or what brand of anything I purchase. Not what I feel or believe about the country, the government, our leaders. Not on any topic of national, business, or entertainment interest. At all.

Perhaps I should be happy I was never a statistic.

"Impressions," TV Times, 29 April-5 May 1979


I do love a good roast. Perhaps it is because I prefer to be hit by the verbal club rather than be socked by the sight gag. What Bob Hope says is what makes me laugh, not how he looks. How Cloris Leachman (in Phyllis) thinks is much funnier than what she does.

So, I like Something, at least the roasting part of it. The other numbers, I can get--and sometimes better--in other shows. The backdrop, I can gawk at--and better-looking ones--in House and Garden. But the roast I will take, with great laughter. Now.

Many will say the show is a blatant imitation of a foreign production. But comedy should be universal, and I cannot be expected to control my laughter just because it comes courtesy of a foreign format. And as long as every other show on local television does not imitate it, an hour of roasting a week is welcome.

Thankfully, those who roasted the roastee in that episode of Something that we watched did it with truly evident affection for the roastee, rather than with the ill-concealed coldness with which their American counterparts perform the exercise in many a Dean Martin roast. Some of the lines said about Maya Valdez were mirth-provoking and uproariously funny, managing to exercise the funny bone while keeping a sympathetic finger on the human pulse.

I would not know, of course, whether any roastee's seat is cool enough for him to be able to laugh through an hour of roasting. There are many who consider a roasting an exercise in emotional violence and offhand cruelty. But I do know something. Anybody who can laugh while others rip off his masks and and smash his defenses cannot but gain in inner confidence and wisdom. The experience is simply too unique not to figure in the individual's consciousness. And anybody who can smile through a roast, and smile at those who roasted him after the event, in all sincerity, seeing it neither as an insult nor a critique but very simply a show, has effectively underscored his stability and accepted his humanity.

Aside from that, and certainly equal to it, is the fact that a roast can provide ordinary viewers a few good and booming laughs. At other people's expense, of course. But what can be very much wrong with doing it while they are around and not when their backs are turned?

A warning, though. The time will surely come, and soon, when the show's producers will find it difficult getting roastees with enough confidence in themselves and roasters who are both excellent wits and real friends of the roastee. When that time comes, we hope the producers will know that the time to end the show has finally and irrevocably arrived.


Mga Kuwento ng Pag-ibig very often manages to entice. It is technically well-done, with storylines that are crisp and crackling. The talents, too, often perform creditably. Those who do not are, at least, not made to look silly and stupid.

But now, Armida Siguion-Reyna can perhaps turn her attention to the development of lesser-known--and even unknown--talents with the face, the flair, the flamboyance for TV acting. Plus the sensitivity for the kind of dramatic productions she likes.

Charo Santos is undoubtedly a very competent, highly skilled performer, with her own taut style of delineating a role, but it would also be worthwhile to watch other talented names and faces make it in the kind of roles she often portrays for Aawitan Kita Productions.

The stage should be a good place for starting the hunt.


I have nothing against dance shows, and this opinion must be a minority one. But I find 3-1/2 hours of dancing on television every week--plus the sporadic dancing in all those other daytime variety shows that cannot seem to do without dance numbers--just a little too much. Especially since the dances all look alike and there is no real effort to instruct the viewers.

Dancing, admittedly, is an art. And television, as a mass medium, should devote a little time and attention to it if it is to satisfy the needs of its vastly varied audience.

But must I have 3-1/2 hours of it a week? And why only disco dancing? And should the dance programs come a little too close to each other in the week?

I don't particularly like Deney Terio (he is straight out of glittery, garrulous Hollywood) of Dance Fever, but it seems to me he has the best idea for making a disco dance program watchable: fast pacing, some judging, a little instructional at the end, and short, short, short.

Penthouse 7 is simply too long. After the first hour, boredom sets in. The dance numbers should probably go through stricter screening. Some dances of the modern group appear to serve no purpose. A little less of the cutie-pie chatter (which, as I can deduce from some of the letters received by "Feedback," riles many viewers, and I can understand why), even less of the plugs, a tighter show all throughout--these may help make the show more tolerable.

-- NBT

No title in original published column

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