Political comedy is no joke for Bubble Gang

Edmund Silvestre - The Philippine Star
Political comedy is no joke for Bubble Gang
The cast at a laughter-filled media conference announcing the 23rd anniversary celebration of GMA 7’s longest-running gag show featuring a telemovie titled Bente Tres Oras

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s undisputed gag show Bubble Gang is marking its 23rd anniversary on Nov. 23 with a telemovie special featuring the return of popular characters like Antonietta, Mr. Assimo, Tata Lino, Lebrown James and Don Cantoni spicing up the adventures of Bea Bangenge and Toto Batoto on a journey to find Wi-Fi connection for Bea.

Bubble Gang lead actor and creative director Michael V said the anniversary special presents a narrative intertwining the show’s segment forms — talk, interview, musical parody, sketches, commercial spoof and gag dubbed as Bente Tres Oras.

He credited loyal viewers as the show’s inspiration in producing innovative gags and sketches that made Bubble Gang the longest-running and most awarded Filipino gag show for over two decades now.

Michael V said one of the secrets to sustaining wide following and high ratings is their commitment to being funny without resorting to politics. He said Bubble Gang has become a weekly staple among those who simply want to laugh and relax on a Friday night and escape the stresses of week-long work and current events.

“There was a time we tried politics in our comedy sketches, but we became more cautious because the political scene these days has become more complex,” Michael V told The STAR after the press conference attended by the whole cast.

He said it happened during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, wherein the diminutive leader was spoofed by Michael himself to the delight of viewers.

But the network head, Michael V admitted, instructed them to go easy on political figures and volatile political situations and simply give audiences pure, clean fun. This is in direct contrast to America’s Saturday Night Live or the defunct Pinoy gag show Sic O’Clock News, where comedians mercilessly lampoon politicians.

“There are other means of making people laugh,” he said. “But we still do political comedy from time to time although in a subtle way and not directly.”

Meanwhile, cast members are unanimous in giving Michael V credit for being the driving force behind the show’s unsinkable stature.

“Kuya Bitoy (Michael) always motivates and inspires us to give our best and his creativity is simply contagious,” said Chariz Solomon. “He made us feel how important each one of us is so all of us are driven to always give our best to the show.”

“Michael V is not just a team leader, he’s also a team player and he listens to everyone,” said Paolo Contis.

“He encourages us to give inputs and provide personal touch in every character we portray,” said Denise Barbacen. “He is a good example for all of us.”

Antonio Aquitania, the most senior cast member, said the atmosphere during weekly tapings has always been vibrant and pleasant that he can’t afford to miss coming to the set every Monday.

Bubble Gang director Bert de Leon said his “biggest problem” is how to exercise control over the overflowing joy and energy on the set.

“That great joy is reflected on the screen, which is actually good,” Bert said. “It can be seen and felt by televiewers. That’s the reason why watching Bubble Gang has become a habit for many.”


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