Friday, June 17, 2011

Review of Klasmeyts

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What kind of hilarious, naughty fun can six men get into for one whole hour? Veteran comedian and politician Herbert Bautista, versatile comedian Bayani Agbayani, singer/actor Keempee de Leon, dancer-turned-actor Michael Flores, Ang TV boy-turned-teenage heartthrob Paolo Contis, and director Johnny Manahan give you all sorts of answers to that question when ABS-CBN presents the gag show “Klasmeyts”. It is being hyped up as a live comedy skit show, a la “Saturday Night Live (SNL)”, which is a small screen landmark in the United States.


‘Klasmeyts’ gives Herbert, Bayani, Keempee, Michael, and Paolo the challenging task of performing their own brand of comedy in front of a live TV audience. Such ‘Klasmeyts’ are ready, willing and able to do anything for laughs. ‘Klasmeyts’ has everything, from gags to funny song parodies and commercial spoofs. The boys even show the funny side of news and current affairs shows, action blockbusters, popular foreign shows and the top teleseryes, all in an effort to make the audience laugh at their silly antics. At a trim half-hour running time, Klasmeyts endeavors to give Philippine TV a different taste of comedy.


Director for ‘Klasmeyts’ is comedy master Johnny Manahan, who has helmed many of ABS-CBN’s most successful sitcoms, which include Abangan Ang Susunod na Kabanata and Ang TV. MTB and Arriba Arriba writer Joel Mercado heads the ‘Klasmeyts’ writing staff, with Ariel Ureta serving as creative consultant. Emma Vilbar, whose credits include Home Along Da Riles and Kaya Ni Mister, Kaya Ni Misis is the executive producer.


The show is not entirely live, of course. There are pre-taped skits, interspersed with the live antics of the five mainstays. The live parts are mainly of them standing around in the set, talking to each other, and shooting their mouths off whatever topic. The live segments also include interviews with female guests, which serve to titillate the male part of their viewers. In fact, most of the show seem geared to the male population. As is the case with most of the comedy shows here, scantily clad girls are part of the decoration. Regardless of whether they know how to act or not, they’re there for eye-candy.


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Speaking of acting, there is nothing spectacularly comedic about the actors there. Some might have a few funny moments, but for the most part, they just seem to be trying too hard. The actors’ delivery of lines is so unnatural that they’re obviously reading from a Manila paper, on which the lines are written. Furthermore, they even chuckle at their own blunders, as if hinting that the slip-ups have been done on purpose, so that the audience would immediately get a kick out of the scene, long before actually blurting out the joke’s punchline. It seems that the actors haven’t prepared enough to get into character. Though, it is a live show and impromptu acting is fundamental, the actors should have some form of run-through of the show’s episode. It is a fact they are viewed by people on national television and even internationally, thanks to the wonder of satellite technology. Their performances hardly elicit any tolerable, much less, believable impact on the audience, as seen on the faces of the people, who are physically in attendance at the show’s studio. Moreover, viewers in the live audience are shown on camera, and they try to give out their best impression of ‘people getting a good laugh’. The [live] laughs don’t really come that strong and fast, so the experiment is only a partial success. It is evident that what the actors are reaping is nothing short of ‘pity’ spectator acclaim. Of course, the folks behind their home network feed off this response and spin it to the show’s advantage. This is accomplished by getting specific members of the audience to give bursts of hearty laughter on cue. On the other hand, the studio spectators do crave for their TV exposure even for a brief moment. They’re all about looking good on television. In all, it’s a win-win situation for both the show and its audience. The former gets the viewers’ approval that it needs, while the latter has the opportunity to be seen on national television.


With regard to its content, there’s barely any substantial material to set it apart from the rest of the crop. There’s little comedy because the situations aren’t really funny. Such circumstances include poking fun at another person’s physical flaws, constantly having the urge to flirt with sexy girls, exaggerating on shallow Filipino stereotypes of men and women, and distastefully parodying famous personalities. In fact, they aren’t situation-oriented at all, and are really just a grab bag of jokes, punchlines, visual gags, etc. The jokes and gags on the different skits feel tired. Usually, these jokes revolve around the premise of getting a person to be the ‘victim’ or ‘dumber one’ among a group. Another instance would be on the subject of ridiculing a person’s state of poverty or any sort of deficiency. Also, there are gags that are merely about literal wordplay of anything under the sun. They’ve been done and rehashed in various shows. Going Bananas/Bad Bananas, Tropang Trumpo, and Bubble Gang come to mind. The jokes have been passed on from person to person before, whether by people casually joking around, joke books, or e-mail. The show’s comic content is so exhausted that viewers could predict the outcome, even before the actors could pronounce the punchlines. If this keeps up, it would be definitely pointless to watch the show. On the other hand, the show stands firm on giving its viewing market the affirmation that what they offer is ‘mindless entertainment’. Clearly, it won’t encourage anybody, who tunes in, to think for just one second. What’s worse is that the program’s humor is built on the premise that everything has to be conveyed in the context of sex. Certainly, many are offended by its brand of comedy that’s too risqu� and raunchy for staunch advocates of old-fashioned Filipino values.


Moving on, the venue is supposed to have a stand-up comedy “feel” to it. The show undoubtedly stays true to this assertion by putting up a stage that’s inclusive of the typical ‘bar’ paraphernalia, and having enough room for a live audience that would serve as the immediate spectators of such broadcast. It is such a shame that the performers get to act out the episode in a low-budget type of setting that’s comprised of substandard-quality equipment, when the show is produced by a prominent television network. The sets look like they’ve been made by high school students, who happen to belong a group that could only put up a small show for some school occasion. Particularly speaking, such stage sets appear to have been made out of cheap materials like old cardboard box parts that have been painted, decorations that came out of somebody’s garage, faux pas backdrops of certain locations, and improvised signboards. The props are also of such second-rate caliber, and they don’t even pass for the kind of props that are realistic to some extent. These props look as if they’re by-products of art supplies from a nearby bookstore. It’s obvious that the production team held back in coming up with well thought-of program conceptualizing.


About the show’s premise, there isn’t much to talk about, that is, satisfying and worthwhile, to say the least. Every week, the program imparts a series of jokes and cracks set in various locations like a jungle, the beach, a massage parlor; that’s all. When doing a special about certain holiday themes, such as Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, they merely tackle ideas that have been tried and tested. Mentally and psychologically, watching the show is a pointless activity. Why? A person benefits nothing from the program, much less, learns something useful or creative. Moreover, viewing it in its entirety only slows down a viewer’s brain activity by exposing him to senseless and gratuitous display of visual humor and wisecracks. It’s also exasperating to see people subject themselves monotonously to humiliating situations for the sake of public entertainment.


First-class comedy need not be vulgar or senseless. It just has to be creative, innovative and witty. There is still a lot of room for improvement for this show. Hopefully, the writers, and everyone else involved with this show, will realize it regardless of the resonance of self-gratifying applause in their home network.


‘Klasmeyts’ airs every Wednesday night at 10, right after Whattamen, on ABS-CBN Channel .





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