Curtain call for Zirkoh, Klownz
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - July 15, 2020 - 12:00am

I’ll make you laugh when you’re blue

That way I can be close to you...

That’s the part I must play

That’s the way of a clown

Contrary to the message of the Teddy Randazzo song, the clowns are not laughing these days, they are not making us laugh even when we are all feeling blue. They are weeping, their tears rolling down their cheeks like droplets of dreary dew sans sparkle. The reason? The curtain has just fallen on Zirkoh and Klownz, the showcases of their make-you-laugh antics and source of living.

“I have no choice,” said Allan K, owner-manager of the two comedy bars. “It has been almost four months since the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) was imposed so we have no income pero tuloy-tuloy ang renta ng lugar. No operation, no money, so I decided to close the business.”

Both located in Quezon City, Zirkoh (on Timog Avenue) had 40 employees and Klownz (on Quezon Avenue) had 37, all of them provided for by owner Allan K who has declared bankruptcy. Zirkoh was opened in 2004 and Klownz in 2002.

Toeing the DOLE guidelines, Allan notified his employees about his decision (“That we were going bankrupt”) through letters since they couldn’t meet personally because of the “social distancing” protocol. “I took care of my employees; inalagaan ko naman sila. Tanggap nila ang sitwasyon. They understand.”

Both located in Quezon City, Zirkoh (on Timog Avenue) has 40 employees and Klownz (on Quezon Avenue) has 37, all of them provided for, and that’s not counting the 30-plus entertainers (including Eat, Bulaga! regulars Wally Bayola and Jose Manalo, Ate Gay, Boobay, Beki Belo and Boobsie) who alternated around the nightly slots. Klownz was put up in 2002 and Zirkoh in 2004.

“Mga baby ko ang mga ‘yan kaya mabigat sa loob ko ang pagsasara nila,” Allan admitted.

The letter “K” is highlighted in the neon signs of both venues and it stands for, you guessed it, Kilantang which is Allan’s surname.

“It’s actually spelled Quilantang with a ‘Q,’ pero it wouldn’t sound good if I used ‘Q’ kasi parang Banana Q ang dating.”

The facade of Zirkoh is reminiscent of the old Clover Theater in Sta. Cruz, adorned with colorful circus figures.

“That was inspired by the Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) which I saw at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Ang saya-saya tingnan lalo na pag lighted sa gabi, di ba? Parang maliit na advertisement ng Cirque du Soleil, di ba?”

These two pre-pandemic photos were taken from Allan K’s Instagram: Business as usual when the crisis is over.

That served as a big come-on for people who trooped to Zirkoh night after night. These days, the facade is dark, unlighted, and the billboard is stark blank when it used to be filled up with performers’ names during the heyday. The pre-lockdown front parking space is now empty, save for Grab motorbikes waiting for delivery orders from nearby restaurants.

“Both bars were the launching pad of aspiring stand-up comedians,” noted Allan who was an OFW performer in Japan for three years, coming home and going back six times. “Marami ang na-discover sa Zirkoh at Klownz, one of them Boobsie. I saw her in Dubai. I told her, ‘Umuwi ka sa Pilipinas, bibigyan kita ng show.’ Giving new talents a break makes me really happy.”

For almost four months now, Allan has been “missing” in Eat, Bulaga!, his home for 25 years now. A senior, he has been on lockdown like most everybody. Bulaga has resumed airing live but only with Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza, Paolo Ballesteros, Wally Bayola and Jose Manalo in the studio, with Vic Sotto virtually co-hosting from home (with wife Pauleen Luna as camera woman).

“I miss our kalokohan,” said Allan, “and the live studio audience. A few days before the ECQ, we were performing before empty seats and it was sad, nakakalungkot. Now, the audience is people watching at their homes.”

On July 29 when Bulaga marks its 41st anniversary, Allan and the other co-hosts (Joey de Leon, Pia Guanio, Ryan Agoncillo, Ruby Rodriguez, Jimmy Santos, Anjo Yllana, Baste and Ryzza Mae Dizon) are expected to return.

In the meantime, Allan is locked down wondering how soon a vaccine or a cure can be found.

“Mabangis na virus,” he tsk-tsked. “Where did it come from? Nagkaroon ng SARS at HIV virus pero never nagka-lockdown. Iba itong virus na ‘to.”

His daily routine has been radically changed.

“Before the lockdown, after Bulaga, I would take a nap and then dress up to go to Zirkoh and Klownz and stay there until 3 a.m. Back home, hindi ka naman kaagad makakatulog, so 5 a.m. na ang tulog ko. Then, I wake up na to go to Bulaga. Now, bawi-bawi sa tulog.”

He has been taking care of his health. He eats brown rice and avoids sweets (his blood sugar is a bit high), and brisk-walks around the village. The norm at home is easy-breezy.

“Four months na ako hindi nakakatikim magsuot ng shoes at pants,” Allan chuckled. “All I wear at home are shorts and sandos, one pair for daytime and another pair at night. Matipid, hahaha!!!”

When things get back to normal, when the situation is safe, Allan hopes to reopen his comedy bars.

“It’s the only business na kaya kong patakbuhin, even with my eyes closed. If somebody asked, ‘Sir, ano ang gagawin dito?’ Alam ko kung ano ang gagawin.”

Okay then where are the clowns? Send in the clowns!!!

Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta, passes away at 57.

Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta, passes away at 57

Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta, passed away at 57 last July 12. Preston had been battling cancer the past two years. She grew up in Hawaii and had her first major movie role in Mischief and later appeared in hits Twins, Jerry Maguire and For Love And Honor.                               “Travolta and Preston were married for more than 28 years. She is survived by daughter Ella, 20, and son Benjamin, 9,” said Hollywood-based Filipino designer Oliver Tolentino who did Preston’s striking red gown for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival when Travolta was a chair of the AmFar charity gala.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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