Weaponizing humor

[Photo source: Akbayan]

By Joe America

Laughter is great medicine, if hard to find when people in the vicinity are being grim.

It’s also like the point of a spear if aimed correctly, or a shield if needed to parry a blow.

President Duterte is a master of humor as a weapon. He uses off color and womanizing jokes to establish his popular character, that of just another Filipino under the mango tree guzzling Red Horse, stroking the chicken (I could not use ‘cock’ in that context), and sharing off color humor and manliness. It works, and is something the ‘yellows’ cannot master, or they would not be the civilized people they pretend to be.

Thus, the President secures his popular appeal with laughter.

He also uses ‘joke’ as a defensive weapon, a shield, when a statement he makes goes wrong. He’ll “kill this person or that person.” That is followed in short order by “That was a joke”, with a sneer in your direction as if you are dense for taking the President seriously.

The opposition is a fairly humorless bunch if you think about it. They are oppressed and I guess it is hard to lighten up when someone is trying to wrap a chain about your ankles. Or neck. Leni Robredo is so straight-laced she must carry an ironing board in her luggage. Ever hear a joke from Pangilinan? Or De Lima? Or Hontiveros? Or Trillanes?

Ahhh. Trillanes! He actually does make small jokes that make reporters smile. So I know he has a sense of humor.

There are a lot of “yellow” humorists on Twitter. Jim Paredes is one. The Professional Heckler is an artist at satire. Alan Robles spends a lot of humor energy demolishing trolls. He can do humor columns, too. Meme artists abound, both on Twitter and Facebook. The shot of President Duterte with Bong Go as his First Lady had people rolling in their virtual aisles.

I don’t know if “it was a joke” would work for Trillanes to explain how his government could have lost his application papers. If I threatened to kill someone as the President does, I doubt the PNP cybercrime people would catch the humor of the joke.

So I find humor in other ways.

Those two senators Go and Bato are sitting ducks, very ripe for humor. They are such goofs. Unprofessional senators, actually. Duterte (which my Smart Keyboard changed to ‘detergent’) is also ripe for jokes and gets a lot of them. Memes mostly. Or ridicule about sleeping.

Humor keeps us balanced. It lets us hit without being taken seriously.

I hope the opposition, in defense of civility and the Constitution, will let their funny bones fly.

The masses have a sense of humor.


51 Responses to “Weaponizing humor”
  1. NHerrera says:

    The masses have a sense of humor.

    I agree. A thought — if edgar lores is still around I can see him categorizing “humor” and elaborating.

    Blog Police to the Editor: Leni Robredo instead of Leni Roberto. 🙂

    • NHerrera says:

      Humor — the Filipino antidote to worry, stress, anxiety, or what have you. But it will be nice to have the kind of seriousness and actions the South Koreans have relative to their government officials. But do the two traits mix?

    • One of these days I’m gonna toss my dumb smart keyboard into the river. Nice catch, Chief of Blog Police.

    • “It works, and is something the ‘yellows’ cannot master, or they would not be the civilized people they pretend to be.”

      I remember around 2am over there, working women and those dudes that sell cigarettes and candy in boxes would mill about outside bars before moving on to some place that sells hot soup.

      Essentially, the jokes Filipinos like are sex jokes and poor jokes, or a combination thereof. So a cigarette seller would encourage the girl to buy a whole pack for her “boyfriend”, to which a girl would respond something like i’d end up working really hard all tonite if he bought a pack.

      so sex and money jokes, are popular. Then you go to your “Yellow” class, the ones that live in gated communities with guards. Same thing, sex and poor jokes, but now the jokes are directed at the poor people, so jokes of having a mistress and being poor for it, or jokes of screwing the help, who is poor, etc.

      I don’t think the Yellows or educated are humorless, they just know their jokes won’t be enjoyed by most people. DU30 having assumed the mantle of “poor” can, I can’t imagine a Bam Aquino telling jokes like DU30, so its not humor thats the problem , Joe,

      it’s status, or purported status, from which to tell jokes. But jokes are everywhere over there, they just tend to be class specific. That’s the issue, IMHO.

      • I’ve never heard a ‘poor joke’ from a yellow. I’ve seen tons of ridicule of the Duterte elite. Most are working class, not behind gates.

        • Basically, ‘poor’ jokes would be antithetical to their values. You may be thinking of a different ‘class’ of educated, ignorant rich people who lead in corruption. They are not yellow.

          • Sorry, i’m using the term “Yellow” here not as political, but more status— educated, high middle class, living in nice gated communities or them who knows how sturdy they are condos. Who tend to vote “Yellow” , no?

            But your point of a yellow (political) incapable of a poor joke, makes me think , Joe— I think that Korina Sanchez point about her dogs being like people (given her background, which I really drilled on in Wil’s blog), was a type of joke. if you really examine it. No?

            Then you look at photos of homes, one not unlike North American homes, then the other (like DU30’s) looks like a regular Filipinos house, with plastic stools and newspapers and mess on the bench, mess everywhere. My last point, is that also the visuals can be a type of joke.

            Like the visuals of a Pepe Mujica and the Obamas in Martha’s Vineyard,

            • I think there are yellows capable of making poor jokes just as we all put out foot in our mouths from time to time. But it is out of step with yellow values, which are more ‘pro-poor’ than poor peoples’ values these days.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    I try humor every now and then. I hit and I miss.
    Duterte is never funny, I hope I would never see him talk live so I would not have to heckle him and be thrown out of the building.
    Worse, I do not want to clap and laugh out fear.

    • kasambahay says:

      I’m trying to suppress me helicopter joke po, the bell helicopter only 2yrs old and downed on maiden flight to nowhere, made virgins pa of gamboa and kapolisan! plop! baby bell dont wanna be polis taxi. got crash date with own procurer and turned feral. no encore.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Sorry, not funny.

        • kasambahay says:

          I’m sorry as well, some humor are not meant to be laughed at. I did not mention the alien on board, something laundered, laundry, the root of all evil. paki-delete lang po. ang comment kong ito so unworthy of high standard set here.

          • karlgarcia says:

            The helicopter has no black box, tinipid nila ajala nila never maaksidente
            Nakita ko sa tv Hindi pa sila umaangat dami ng alikabok add ash fall to that dapat di pinilit.

  3. An Apo Hiking Concert, made into the LP “The Worst of Apo Hiking Society” that took place sometime between Aug. 21, 1983 and Feb. 1986 had Jim Paredes cracking jokes about Marcos’ hidden health vs. hidden wealth, his pronunciation of assassin and more.. Marcos became a lame duck, humor overcame fear long before the people suddenly appeared on EDSA.. Cardinal Sin was the funniest Filipino cardinal of all time maybe, joking that the opposite of bigamy is monotony – nobody could put the label of a straitlaced preachy moralist on him as he was not like that..

  4. Kamote Procopio says:

    Laughter is the best medicine but I can’t find humor in Duterte. Disgust would be more appropriate.

    • kasambahay says:

      kaya po, duterte is sickly, lacking kasi ng laughter best medicine. I’m afraid to see him laugh though, really laugh. baka something like black bile will come out of his mouth and turn him inside out. super bilious man, anti hero. going to have talk with much maligned water concessionaire manny pangilinan at sometime point in the future.

      that’s a date. true, true happiness will follow if you only follow me, yeah, yeah. two men on a date with lots of excited chaperones hovering, bong go for sure is one.

      bong go is gonna polish duterte’s chariot, the quad bike. the brand new only 2yrs old bell helicopter kasi is transformer, metal wreck transformed in plain sight of high ranking kapolisan. such magic. unprecendented.

  5. Micha says:

    Can one detect humor at Anthony Hopkins’ character in Silence of the Lambs?

    The horror of knowing people actually laugh at the sick perverted jokes of a psychopath like Duterte.

  6. I’ve always wondered why with so many good artists in the Philippines,

    they don’t churn out a lot of art as a nation. There should be for example a lot of political cartoons produced, plays/theatre I didn’t see any while there. Newspaper , news and commentary , were written by high school graduates it seemed.

    But visual and performing arts, politicized, has a lot of potential there.

  7. sonny says:

    Reminds me of the old joke:

    Ques: What is “F*ck you” in Yiddish?
    Ans: Trust me!

  8. Micha says:

    The Insane Clown President :

  9. Micha says:

    Ooops, should have posted this one :

  10. karlgarcia says:

    Bong Go making jokes of Dilawan opposition.
    Yelo pag natunaw tubig ( yelo is ice )

      • karlgarcia says:

        I was at an event recently, hosted by a civic organization, where Go was a featured speaker. An awardee for government service, he was supposed to speak on behalf of all the winners, representing diverse fields. Instead, he spoke for himself and especially for President Duterte (who was not an awardee); he repeatedly made uncalled-for and unfunny jokes about “the yellows” (meaning of course the opposition); he brought a Duterte impersonator to perform on stage; he made the same promises he made during last year’s senatorial campaign. In other words, in accepting the award on behalf of all the awardees, he gave a basic, and mediocre, campaign stump speech. He did not honor the organization with so much as a mention of its high ideals (which in my view was betrayed by the very selection of Go as an awardee); he said nothing substantial about the other awardees, many (but not all) of whom deserved the recognition; he offered no inspiration or sense of purpose. It was crass — talentless, tactless, triumphal — politicking.

        Its only object was to paint him as the President’s closest ally. He started by saying he and the President did not believe in awards, because their work is public service (yada yada), but in giving him the award, the organization was honoring the President too (more yada). He said he ran for the Senate last year because Mr. Duterte had a feeling (“may kutob”) that he would win — but he did not mention that that feeling was backed by massive ad spending paid for by supporters even before the campaign started, by the re-alignment of government projects to lend him a higher profile, by the President’s order to local government officials to ensure that Go place in the Top 3 or else face his wrath. On a night meant to honor achievements that cut across all divides, Go made senseless “jokes” designed to highlight political division; one of them, for instance, was based on the absurd premise that he cannot open an ice-making plant in Manila — because, of course, ice in Filipino is “yelo,” or yellow.

        This is the sort of idiocy we hear far too often from Go, who presumes to set policy for the entire country; he is in that position solely because he is, and remains, the President’s aide: the one who controls access to him, the one who can anticipate his mood or sentiment or decision. It is not because he is a senator; without Duterte, Go would not only be rudderless in the Senate, he would be powerless in politics. Unlike other factions in the increasingly uneasy coalition supporting President Duterte — those led by Mayor Sara Duterte, by former president Gloria Arroyo, by the Marcos plunderers, by the resurgent Villars, or by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano — Go has no real political base to rely on if the President is no longer a factor.

        Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/127129/the-unfortunate-bong-go#ixzz6FrXczJB3
        Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

        • ‘He did not honor the organization with so much as a mention of its high ideals (which in my view was betrayed by the very selection of Go as an awardee)’

          Comedy (performance) and satire (print) is highly prized over here, karl.

          I’m thinking the butt of the joke isn’t Bong Go (per se), but his audience and by extension said organization giving him an award (what was the award for?).

          But the antidote, used here often once the jig is up, and you realize you’re the joke having to listen to this joke, is simply walk-out, booooooooooooo, and/or heckle (if the last two are too dangerous), walk out or don’t show at all.

          In most of these acts, the audience is the joke. SO, don’t be the audience.

          On a linguistic note, Spanish hielo is very Tagalog , while American ice is very Visayan.

          Turns out the ice machine became popular there around the 1890s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Linde#Patents , but said ice machines didn’t make it to the Visayas, then Mindanao, til after the Americans, by that time Spanish

          wasn’t in fashion any more, hence “ice” and not “hielo”. I’m no comedian but i’m sure hielo not yellow can be made into a joke. Something like , We’re not yellow, we’re ice, “All the better to see you with, my dear!”, now Go Go Go, kiss your Do Do’s ass.

        • NHerrera says:

          Yes indeed. Go is a joke. If only that is where it ends. But it makes the PH one big joke.

        • Yes, the man is a showman. The only thing he’s missing is the suitcase with snake-oil in it.

  11. NHerrera says:


    Here’s news from BBC:

    Philippines confirms two more cases

    The Philippines has confirmed two more virus cases – a man that had travelled to Japan, and another man who has no travel history to any affected country.

    But it’s still too early to say whether the latest case shows that local transmission is taking place.

    That brings the total to 5 confirmed cases from a rather firm 3 for weeks.


      • NHerrera says:

        100,000 MARK BREACHED

        The official worldwide Covid-19 confirmed cases has just breached the 100,000 mark.

        There are now more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, according to a count from US’ Johns Hopkins University.

        The university’s dashboard reported a total of 100,329 cases across the world this morning [US-ET].

        Remember: This number is slightly different than the latest count from World Health Organization, which is reporting 98,202 cases around the world. Johns Hopkins and WHO report tallies at different times of the day, so the counts often differ.

        Meantime, the infected cases outside of Mainland China is surging ahead. By sheer momentum and considering the previous week’s speed of infections, the number of confirmed cases in these Other World Locations, I believe, can get to the 50,000 mark from the current official 19,800 confirmed cases — by mid March. That mark would then be more than half the current Mainland China’s official 80,600 confirmed cases.

        • karlgarcia says:

          karlgarcia says:
          March 6, 2020 at 1:05 pm
          I think with the suspected local transmission, we may be no longer virus free.

          • NHerrera says:

            What is alarming now is the worldwide scope of the covid-19 spread outside of China:

            * earlier, a week ago or so, we read numbers in the lower to higher 20s of countries infected; then numbers like 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. And now the latest country scope puts it at 85. Some of these, of course, are just showing their first cases.

            * most of these later countries to be infected got their cases mostly from Italy and Iran — the two secondary “epicenters” aside from South Korea.

            * in the US, just a few days ago, when I displayed the US locations of those infected with covid-19, the number of states stood at 14; now, it is 20.

            What is sad with the US case is the confusion about the rate of testing, shortage of test kits and the relatively poor management of the situation with the Twitter-in-Chief adding to the confusion. That, for the most wealthy country in the world with time enough to prepare after the China experience with covid-19. What is positive is VP Pence who has been placed by Trump to take charge is consulting with Health Experts in the communication area.

            • NHerrera says:

              There are some blessings though for countries such as the PH: light crude oil price has gone down from about $62 per barrel in early January to about $42 per barrel. Russia and OPEC have not agreed to a more drastic supply cut.

            • Two weeks ago, my brother in San Jose, California, was relieved to get off his cruise ship to the Amazon. Passengers were worried about what the (Filipino) crewmen were bringing on board. Now he’s at home, and the stupid disease is getting closer.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Micha may disagree with Pence in charge, but to each his own.

              • NHerrera says:

                Pence had an epiphany. Covid-19 is truly democratic: it enjoys human cells equally — be they Republican, Democrat, or Independent; and so gets his respect more than his Boss, for once.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Comment liked

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