The greatest comedians of all time

STARBYTES By Butch Francisco
The Philippine Star 08/17/2006

(Second of a series)

Last Tuesday, I published an initial list of my Top 10 great comedians of all time. In the list were the names of Pugo, Dolphy, Chiquito and Tito, Vic and Joey. Below are my other choices:

Togo – The sparring partner of Pugo, they started out as the Laurel Hardy and Stan Laurel of the Philippines. In the ’30s, they did stage shows and branched out into films before the war. Among the films they made in the early ’40s were Utos ng Hari, Hindi Mababali, Sa Lumang Simbahan and Binibiro Lamang Kita.

Andres Solomon in real life, he had to change his name to Tuging (Pugo became Puging) during the war years because Togo almost sounded like Tojo, the name of the Japanese Admiral stationed in the Philippines.

In one of their sketches on stage during the war, they did a parody on Japanese soldiers by wearing several wristwatches on their arms and even on their legs. During that dark period of our history, members of the Japanese Imperial Army were notorious for confiscating wristwatches from civilians and wearing them on their arms all at the same time. Pugo and Togo aped this on stage and was a hit with the audience. Supposedly, they were brought to Fort Santiago for questioning.

After the war, the comic duo resumed their film career and did several movies for LVN Pictures: Tambol Mayor (co-starring Jaime de la Rosa and Tessie Quintana, their first picture with LVN), Dalawang Prinsipeng Kambal, Magkumpareng Putik (with Lilia Dizon), Edong Mapangarap (with Eddie San Jose), Ang Kandidato, Nagsaulian ng Kandila, Dalawang Sundalong Kanin and Biglang Yaman. My personal favorites, however, were those films they did with Hollywood starlet Joan Page.

Togo could have been an even bigger name in the field of comedy had he not died in 1952.

Apeng Daldal – Like most comedians in those days, Apeng – known for his big set of teeth and his being a fast talker (Daldal) – started in vaudeville where he was a dancer. He honed his dancing skills, however, in the regular “pasayaw ng mga bakla” in his Tondo neighborhood where he was a favorite male dancing partner of post-war cross-dressers. From stage shows, he also ventured into film (with Gina Pareño as leading lady) and television. His most memorable performance for me, however, was in an episode of Eliza (Boots Anson Roa’s drama anthology in the old BBC-2) where he played the personal assistant of a powerful man (Arnold Mendoza). In the story, Mendoza is married to Boots, but has a mistress (Coney Nubla – later to become Coney Reyes) he treats shabbily. After getting Coney pregnant, he dumps her, she loses the baby and dies during the miscarriage. Secretly in love with Coney, Apeng avenges her death by killing Mendoza.

With Apeng’s excellent performance in that Eliza episode, I really started to get convinced that great comedians also make good dramatic actors.

Apeng Daldal died in 1992.

Tange – His name obviously came from tanga (dumb), but stupid he certainly was not because Tange was one of the wittiest comedians local show business ever had.

His big break came via Super Laff-ins in the old ABS-CBN and from there he did other comedy shows – like Wanted: Boarders where he was houseboy to the family of Pugo and Patsy.

Tange was great at delivering punchlines. In one Wanted: Boarders episode, he was trying to get inside a nightclub when he was stopped at the entrance for wearing only a collarless shirt. (This was the era when dress codes were still strictly followed.) His retort to that: “Yung iba nga, nakasando lang, sumasayaw pa sa TV.” That may not have sounded so funny on print, but the way Tange delivered it really brought the house down.

Tange also did a couple of films during his career and one of the comedies he did was Buntis V, a parody of Voltes V.

In the early ’80s, he became sickly and had a minor speech impairment. He died in 1981 a poor man.

To this day, the young generation still uses the word tange as an expression. But how many of them know the great comedian that was Tange?

Rene Requiestas – A product of theater, his passport to fame was via the post-EDSa satire Sic O’clock News. When Joey de Leon got him to play Chee-tae in the Starzan series, Rene became a very popular comedic figure and eventually starred in his own movies. Pido/Dida with Kris Aquino was a blockbuster hit.

His toilet humor, of course, was denounced by the more proper sector of society. Rene merely laughed his way – toothless at that – to the bank. He lived life to the fullest and in style – complete with a retinue of hangers-on. Eventually, he mismanaged his finances and got sick. He died in the mid-’90s after enjoying half a decade of almost unequaled popularity.

Roderick Paulate – Starting out as a child actor (Kaibigan Ko ang Sto. Nino), Roderick practically grew up in front of the camera. He became famous, however, for playing flaming gay roles: Petrang Kabayo, Binibining Tsuperman, Kumander Gringa, etc.

On TV, he will be best remembered for playing Benny, the gay sidekick of Barbara Tengco (Tessie Tomas) in Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata and, later, as a closet homesexual secretly in love with Aga Muhlach in Oki Doki Doc. Early in the ’80s, he also did Tepok-Bunot on BBC-2.

Roderick is actually an all-round artist: Aside from doing comedy, he sings and also dances well. He was outstanding doing a dramatic role in the horror flick Pa-siyam two years ago.

Michael V. – He began his career as a rapper. After hosting game shows for ABS-CBN, he joined Tropang Trumpo on ABC-5 and now does the gag show Bubble Gang on GMA 7, where his Bitoy’s Funniest Videos is one of the network’s top-raters.

He is at his best doing impersonations and has done almost everyone in the political and showbiz fields: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Cory and Kris Aquino, Joseph Estrada, Charo Santos (who became Charo Santos Conscious – always hiding her face before the camera) and even this writer (Butch Pang-disco – very funny, but don’t do it again! Ha-ha-ha.).

Michael V. is now at the peak of his career. Two or three decades from now, his name would surely still be included if anyone were to make another list of local showbiz’s greatest comedians.

(Next: Top female comics)



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