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Jerald Napoles shares why Pinoy comedy can attract a global audience

August 30 ------ A new and one-of-its-kind comedy series starts streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video this Aug. 31 and stars Carlo Aquino, Rufa Mae Quinto, Andrea Brillantes, Jerald Napoles, Cai Cortez, Awra Briguela, Justine Luzares and Drew Arellano. Besides its incredible cast, the six-part series Comedy Island Philippines has an interesting format. A hybrid of scripted and unscripted elements, the reality comedy-adventure show features seven celebrities trapped in a magical island where they have to play the Centennial Games and only one will emerge as the winner.

In a recent intimate roundtable interview with one of its actors, Jerald gave more details about the concept behind the series and how the Filipino brand of comedy is showcased in the Philippine version of Comedy Island. “All of us are playing as ourselves,” began Jerald. They used their real names in the series, as seen in the teaser trailer. “We know the narrative but we don’t know the challenges (that we will be doing)… We have a script, there’s voting, may matatanggal, may pinarusahan, and merong nagmakaawa (someone gets kicked out, someone gets punished and you have someone begging for reconsideration).” “It’s very interesting,” added the actor-comedian. Further describing the concept as “unique,” he said other countries also have their versions of Comedy Island. “Their approach is different from us. The challenges we did were different. In (Comedy Island) Indonesia, bahala sila kung anong gagawin nila. Sa Philippines, bahala kami kung anong gagawin namin.” There’s also a Comedy Island Thailand version. What’s more interesting for Jerald is the cast. He said, “It’s very different. I think we would only be able to have that kind of casting if we were going to do a movie. But if it’s a semi-reality show, improv, and we have this kind of setup where someone gets evicted or whatsoever, and we are the cast, for me, if I am the audience, I will be asking, ‘What’s happening there? I will watch it.’ I think it will build interest in the audience.”

Jerald was also in awe of how big the production was. “Ticket pa lang, you would know that the budget was huge. All of us were in Business Class, tapos Singapore Airlines pa,” he mentioned. They also filmed at a luxury resort in Phuket, Thailand. As soon as they arrived on set, they could tell it was a major production. He observed, “Especially when we went to the set and the entire process of production, even the workers may delegation ng trabaho. (So) it’s really big. “And then, we realized that it’s big because it’s an Amazon original. So Amazon Prime Video is actually pouring effort and funds into their originals — there’s Comedy Island Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.” The Amazon team from the US was also present during the shoot, Jerald added.

The STAR asked the actor how the Filipino brand of comedy differs from those of other countries and why he thinks the global audience will appreciate such type of comedy as the series is set to be shown in various parts of the world. “The Filipinos are used to physical comedy, so in terms of… I remember ‘pag nag-challenge kami, yung energy namin naka-up lahat. Waaah! Our energy was like that,” he answered. “I think the structure that was imposed on us, for each country, was that it had to be the flavor of your country,” he continued. “It has to be culturally Filipino, the concept, the set, (etc). With Indonesia, the concept, the appearance of the set and everything should also be Indonesian.”

Jerald cited as well the theater actors who were part of the series. “’Pag sinalang mo mga ‘to kapag sabihin nating hindi natin kilala, automatic mag-shine. I remember they were also our stand-ins because they were there first for blocking. And they did the exact challenge. They told us that when they did it, they had so much fun. It’s because these are theater actors who are used to improv challenges,” he said. “So, I think Pinoy comedy is very connecting. It’s like, ‘What shall we do next? Gaganito ako, gaganito ka.’ Filipinos are like that. Tapos, ‘O tatlo tayo, ganun, tapos kunyari ganyan.’ Alam mo yung ‘pag naglalaro tayo sa kalye, ‘O sige kami magkakapatid, tapos kayo kapitbahay namin.’ It’s like that, magkaka-connect. It’s different. I think it’s evident and different also from other countries’ brand of comedy,” he added. On how the global audience can relate to the Filipino comedy showcased in the show, he said, “Ang maganda kasi ngayon napansin ko malakas yung Pinoy sa mundo, so there’s no convincing factor for me to watch the show. It’s automatic because we have Filipinos everywhere in the world, especially in the US, Middle East, so may manonood at may manonood (there will always be an audience).” “Our humor is also not very different from others like Latin humor. It’s the same somehow,” he went on and pointed out, “It’s because there’s also familiarity sa humor nila and sa humor natin. It’s almost the same. I also noticed it in Mexican, Spanish humor, so I think hindi tayo dry humor. I think other countries can also relate (to our humor), maybe not all, but comedy is comedy.”

Meanwhile, being the comedian that he is, Jerald believes that using humor can be a way to attract girls. He used it on his girlfriend, actress Kim Molina. “I used it on Kim. She is a ‘victim.’ It’s like a web. I’m the spider, web yan, yung comedy ko. ‘Pag pumunta ka dun sa web, ‘OK, come here ganun yun,’” he quipped. “Nagamit ko kasi ‘pag you would want a person because you have to start a conversation. And how do you start a conversation? You have to get her attention. So, the first line that you’re gonna say kailangan gusto na niyang makipag kwentuhan sayo. So, you have to be funny.” He definitely doesn’t find it challenging to use his humor on Kim being a comedienne herself. “Kasi bungisngis siya. Napaka-bungisngis niya. Kahit ganung matalino yun, bungisngis yun sobra and she is also a comedian. And alam ko rin ‘pag pinagtri-tripan niya ako.” He revealed, “Actually, you know what, in our relationship, mas madalas akong pagtripan ni Kim. Because in real life, nasa isang sulok lang ako. Ganyan. Babangka ako ‘pag barkadahan. Pero ‘pag hindi ako kinakausap, for example, nandito tayo, nandiyan lang ako kung hindi niyo ako kailangan.” “I’m like that. Kim is the one who’s (talkative). So, ako yung pinaglalaruan niya lagi sa bahay. And that’s what I love about her. It’s very rare for someone like me to find a girl like that. (I hit the) jackpot.” Are they going to take their relationship to the next level after nine years of being together? “You, guys, would know (in time) because it has to start from us and then, (we will) announce it,” he told this paper. “But of course, may mga usap kami sa bagay-bagay because we are also business partners, so I don’t think na magkakaroon ng problema itong relasyon namin. So, it will go to the next level. It’s inevitable.” “Ang napag-usapan lang namin kasi ngayon puro business and projects. But it will happen,” he concluded.



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