No joke making people laugh
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2015 - 10:00am

He built his career on the success of his impersonation of world-boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. 

Now that Pacquiao has turned born-again Christian, people have been wondering how that will affect Pooh’s impersonation of the People’s Champ. But the actor-comedian says that his act is more than just his Pacquiao impersonation. In short, there’s more to him than just that. All he did was to simply redirect the focus of his act away from Pacquiao’s religious transformation. 

It also helps, he says, that audiences these days look for more than just Pacquiao when he performs. “Hindi naman po naapektuhan ang act ko regarding sa pag impersonate kay Manny,” says Pooh. “Kasi hindi na nakakatawa ‘pag sa pagbabago n’ya ng religion ako mag-fo-focus. I just wait for his interviews. Good thing naman kasi di na naman siya hinahanap ngayon ‘pag nag-i-impersonate kasi naka-focus na rin ako sa mga sarili kong act ‘pag nag-sho-show.”

But while he has changed certain things about his act, the one thing he doesn’t plan to do is change his name. People think he got it from Manny Pacquiao, but the truth is, says Pooh, he got it from Winnie the Pooh. 

Despite that, Pacquiao will always remain a favorite of him, both as a man and a sports icon. In fact, one of Pooh’s fondest memories was of meeting Pacquiao years ago during a trip to General Santos. “He would invite me and Pokwang before. Mabait po siyang kausap. Biruan at tawanan lang po ang nangyari, kasi si Pokie, ginagaya ang Mommy niya (Mommy Dionisia), tapos ako naman, siya ang ginagaya ko. He’s super down-to-earth,” he recalls.

While he’s slowed down on the Pacquiao impersonations (he has other characters in his repertoire), Pooh is still very much active on television, doing Banana Split and the feel-good daytime drama NingNing, featuring child star Jana Agoncillo. There’s also a movie project being ironed out, although he doesn’t have all the details yet. 

In addition to his TV projects, Pooh continues to appear on the live stage. In fact, he’s currently busy with a series of shows for PAGCOR, some of which he’s doing with K Brosas. They just finished one last Oct. 17 at Casino Filipino (CF) Angeles, and will be having others on Dec. 11 at CF Tagaytay (with K); Jan. 15, 2016 at CF Mimosa; Jan. 30, 2016 at CF Davao; and March 12, 2016 at CF Cebu, again with K.

While Pooh enjoys making people laugh on both television and the live stage, he says there’s a big difference.

“Malaki po talaga ang kaibahan sa live at sa TV kasi sa live, quick response agad sa audience ang makikita mo. Alam mo agad kung nagustuhan nila o hindi ang ginawa mo. Sa TV,  di ko alam kung gusto ng lahat. Pero mukha naman silang masaya pareho,” he says with a laugh.

With these PAGCOR shows, for instance, Pooh really prepares for them. “I’ve already done several shows for PAGCOR and I’m glad that they have not grown tired of me. In my upcoming shows, the audience can expect new material.”

Of course, there are days when he doesn’t feel up to the job of making people laugh, but like most entertainers or performers, Pooh subscribes to the belief that the show must go on. This is something he imbibed from his favorite comedians, who include his Tatay Dolphy, Willie Nepomuceno, Nanette Inventor, Jon Santos, Allan K, the trio of Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon, and Vice Ganda.

“Of course, there are times when you have a bad hair day,” he reflects. “But I just think of the effort the audience made to see you, to be able to laugh and be entertained, not because they want to hear your sentiments in life. Inaalala ko din na nagbayad sila ng entrance kaya kahit may problema, dapat ipakita mo kung ano ang hinihingi nila. May mga problema din sila kaya sila pumunta para magamot ko pansamantala sa pamamagitan ng pagpapasaya sa kanila.”

And yet he thinks of himself as more of a comedian. “Halos pareho lang naman po nakakatawa yung dalawang ‘yun,” he reasons. “Yung impersonation nga lang, naka-focus ka lang sa specific character, unlike kapag comedian, lahat puwede gawing katatawanan.”

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