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The Philippines Is Ready For Political Satire In The Mainstream

The Philippines Is Ready For Political Satire In The Mainstream

by Lex Celera

In a time where local politics is always a headline (to be fair, when wasn’t it?) in the most comedica of ways, where the allegedly sick suddenly rise up from wheelchairs,  where senators take a leave from the Senate to box, or political candidates own National Breakfast Day as their own gimmick,  it truly is time to say that we’re ready for political satire in mainstream television.

I know, I know, who can laugh in times like these? Netizens have been in Twitter skirmishes with our Chinese neighbours over the West Philippine Sea arbitration case. Our President has called for a war on drugs, and the bodies have been piling up. Out in the street, a cyclist got shot over a fit of road rage. People are hungry for some clarity, which some look for in the various corners of public opinion: long editorials of a big-time broadsheet, blogs in the name of Get Real Philippines, or something called the Mocha Uson Blog.

Nevertheless, the collective Philippine media has been branded by a single, resounding word: “BIAS.” Is the media misinforming us, or are we just too pikon to accept criticism? A good, heavy dose of satire seems to be the antidote. As Lourd de Veyra said in a forum for political satire, “Kasi ‘pag masyadong dineretso, hindi kumakagat eh. [So] dapat siguro may ‘pautot’ ka ng kaunti para yung pagtawa mo, at least, may maaalala ka sa issue.

Smell that? The times are a-changing, and the air we breathe is coming straight from our Western pals by the names of John Oliver and Stephen Colbert. Remember John Oliver’s piece about Duterte? Our local social media blew up at that segment. People got mad at this British person heading an American news show and they got riled up.

But why is it that we need a foreigner to criticise our country for us to listen? Well, let’s admit it: our media diet for the past decade or so has a good amount of American and British calories in all their witty, well-produced goodness. Mr. Robot, Stranger Things, Sherlock—we eat those meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we’re not unfamiliar to comedies that comes with a side of social and political commentary—Black Mirror, Saturday Night Live, The Wire.

Particularly enjoyable are late-night talk shows and their strongly opinionated yet humorously sublime hosts: Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jon Stewart. They know how to take an issue, form it into digestible terms, and turn it on its head. Stewart in particular, can really pound a certain story to the pulp with his long rants.  Political satire pierces through any boundaries of the political spectrum, and can certainly pierce through geological boundaries and language barriers.

[pull_quote]We need someone critical enough to make us exercise our right to be offended, but charismatic enough to make us laugh while doing so.[/pull_quote]

It’s not to say that we don’t have our own history of political satire. Johnny Litton, Mr. Shooli of Mongolian Bar-b-q, and the old gags of Eat Bulaga come to mind. Even Goin’ Bulilit has bits of social commentary in there. We have Lourd de Veyra and friends over at Kontrabando and The Word of the Lourd. But we need a talk show in the same format as Last Week Tonight and The Late Show.

We need someone critical enough to make us exercise our right to be offended, but charismatic enough to make us laugh while doing so. We need a voice to filter out the bull while engaging our supposedly short attention spans without resorting to slapstick or otherwise blunt comedy.Times are ugly, indeed, but objective and storytelling are two words that don’t really go together. Instead of having our news sanitized and manicured, how about we hear opinions that will make us think? Sounds like a good plan, yeah? Let’s level the political discourse up a notch or two.

So, who are our candidates as host? We take our pick from the top of our head:

  1. Teddy Boy Locsin: Uncompromising with a razor-sharp wit. Also he’s dapper af.
  2. Atom Araullo: Pogi, smart, and he’s comfortable speaking in front of the camera since he was a kid.
  3. Lourd de Veyra: The man already does satire and comedy for a living. And he can have Bayaw as the Andy Richter to his Conan O’ Brien.
  4. Patricia Evangelist: Her work on Storyline is top notch. If not the host, get her as the writer or producer.
  5. Erwin Romulo: Who else knows how to tackle issues and get stories out of people better than an editor from Esquire Philippines? He wasn’t just an editor, he was editor in chief.

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