Your Starter Guide To Pinoy Stand-Up Comedy, According To The KoolPals

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The KoolPals give us the scoop on running a top podcast, their upcoming anniversary show, Pinoy stand-up comedy, and more.

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If there’s one thing you can count on from Filipinos, it’s their love of comedy. Whether as a form of entertainment or a distraction from all the noise of the world, Filipinos love to laugh and make other people laugh. It’s an art that Filipino stand-up comedians have down to a science. While the local stand-up scene may not get as much attention as its international counterparts, it still deserves the proper attention and respect other Filipino comedians have been receiving. Local stand-up comedians are some of the most talented, and not to mention funniest people you’ll meet. Just look at The KoolPals

Initially formed in 2019, the Filipino comedy group, composed of GB Labrador, James Caraan, Nonong Ballinan, Muman Reyes, and Ryan Rems, has been getting laughs from their sold-out Comedy Manila live shows and popular podcast of the same name. With the simple premise of five comedians being hilariously relatable by talking about life through the lens of uniquely Pinoy humor, The KoolPals has dominated the Spotify podcast charts as the top comedy podcast in the country. 


Millions of views and tens of thousands of fans later, The KoolPals are celebrating their fifth anniversary with a comedy and music festival called The KoolPals Block Party: a Stand-Up Comedy + Music Special this May 11 at 123 Block in Mandaluyong City. Headlined by the gang themselves, the star-studded show’s line-up also includes Kween Yasmin, Eloisa, Lion and the Scouts, Tanya Markova, Dilaw, and Johnoy Danao. Their anniversary show serves as yet another reminder of Filipino stand-up comedy’s continued rise in the mainstream zeitgeist. 

Ahead of their block party, we got the chance to chat with The KoolPals as they talk their popular podcast, anniversary, how and why you should get into local stand-up comedy, and more. Read on below for the full interview. 

How would you describe Filipino stand-up comedy? 

Rems: Hindi na sya pang bakal lamang.

James Caraan: Masasabi kong this year ang pinakamagandang year ng Filipino stand-up comedy dahil mas lalong tumataas na ang awareness ng Pinoy sa style namin with the help of our podcasts, social media, and recently lang, yung Netflix special ni Red Ollero.

GB: Filipino Stand-Up is getting more support from comedy fans and more Filipinos are now trying standup through our Open Mic venues every week. Comedy Manila has 70+ comedians in rotation and has a more diverse lineup of comedians.

Muman: Diverse. Fighting. Growing.

What do you think is the secret behind the success of your podcast? 

Rems: Walang buraot sa amin. 

GB: We were friends and fans of each other’s humor before we started the podcast. It made our conversations and jokes come out naturally. 

Muman: We try to be ourselves. No inhibitions, all natural 🙂 Mahirap gawin to sa ganitong kalaking scale (600 plus eps) if you are trying to play a character.

Do you think doing your podcast is easier or harder as compared to a stand-up show considering you don’t have a live audience watching you?

Rems: Mas madali, kahit makatulog ako tuloy pa rin sila. 

James: Mas madali ang podcast compared sa stand-up since sa KoolPals, five kami na nagbabanter, and dahil kilala na namin ang isa’t-isa, nasasalo namin if ever may sumablay na joke para ma-maintain namin yung energy sa conversation.

GB: The KoolPals always has a live audience during our recording making our show interactive. What is easier in doing a podcast with five comedians on board is that not everyone needs to be funny all the time unlike StandUp where we’re alone on stage.  

Muman: Different animals. Stand up is more refined, it takes preparation. Doing podcasts only requires us to be spontaneous, but consumes a lot of time compared to standup. Similarity lang niya is we have to be funny sa parehong discipline 🙂

Where do you get your inspiration for your jokes and come up with new material?

Rems: Pag nakakarinig ako ng trigger words, dinudugtungan ko na lang. 

James: Usually, nakakaisip ako ng jokes sa mga experiences ko and sa mga inis ko sa buhay lalo na pag nagbabasa ako sa social media.

GB: I get my jokes from everyday life. From current events, life as a parent, husband, and a Filipino. 

Muman: Everything that is happening around me, even the negative things. Walang bawal pagusapan, basta nakakatawa.

Out of all the things you could have done to celebrate five years together, why a comedy and music festival?

GB: Every year we try to do something new to celebrate our podcast and Pinoy StandUp. This year we wanted to share the stage with our musical guests that our KoolPals listeners enjoyed in the podcast. 

Rems: Shabuhan talaga trip ko pero ayaw nila. 

James: Gusto naming i-celebrate yung 5 years namin kasama ang lahat ng naging part ng KoolPals, kaya hindi lang ito music festival and comedy, may party din ito sa backstage kasama ang halos lahat ng naging guest namin for the past 5 years, all thanks to Spotify.

Muman: We will try to do something different every year, next year baka magicians or zumba party.

What can fans expect from your upcoming concert?

Rems: Asahan nila na amoy downy ang aking brip.

James: Every year namin gustong i-elevate ang anniversary shows namin, kaya siguradong mas malaki ito, mas masaya, at mas pwedeng mag-lasing. Yung mga nauna kasi naming venues, madaming restrictions pagdating sa pag-inom ng alcohol, e since ang theme ng podcast namin ay long-table inuman, dito sa event na to, mas magiging malaya tayong lahat.

GB: There will be a lot of good vibes on and off stage coming from the performers all the way to the listeners. Jokes and laughter will be echoing all throughout 123 Block on May 11!  

Muman: It will be filled with Music and Comedy and previous guests, just like one big block party. Goal is not just to celebrate the podcast, but the community.

Why do you think more people should pay attention to local stand-up comedy? 

Rems: Di ko macocontrol yan, optional pa rin panonood sa amin. 

James: Tama ang sinabi ni Ryan Rems, nandito lang naman kami as an option for entertainment. Basta kami, gagawin namin kung anong tingin namin ang nakakatawa, eventually, makikita din kami ng mga audience namin na same namin ng wavelength. 

GB: Stand-Up comedy is a reflection of our society. People should pay attention because some of the jokes are coming from a place where they can relate and most of the time the laughs help in making us feel that things will be okay. 

Muman: Because we are trying to make a difference, establish something homegrown, something we can be proud of. This applies to everything sana, mapa music, movies and any other local art form. Hindi biro ang sakripisyo ng karamihan na Philippine artists

What is one thing about being a comedian that you wish more people knew? 

Rems: Gusto namin ng libreng lapdance. 

James: Malaking tulong yung podcast namin para mas makilala kami ng mga tao. Lahat naibubuhos namin sa podcast, frustrations, excitement, mga nangyari sa kapitbahay ko, lahat yan mapapakinggan nila sa KoolPals. Usually, yung mga hindi namin ma-translate into a stand-up set, sa podcast namin binubuhos, akala kasi ng mga tao scripted lang kami lagi. Kaya magandang mapakinggan din nila ang KoolPals kung na-tripan nila yung material namin sa stand-up comedy para mas makilala pa nila kami.

GB: Whatever we say or joke about, we only want to make people laugh. 

Muman: Jokes are complicated to make, it looks easy but the only way you will be able to relate is if you ever try doing it. We will do everything to make you laugh. Yung laughter ang currency namin.

As local stand-up comedy enters the mainstream, how can Filipinos support local comedians and the stand-up scene? 

Rems: Suportahan nila ang gusto nila. Kung gusto nila ng dalawang bakulaw na nagsasampalan para matawa, wala namang problema. 

James: Panoorin nyo kami sa mga shows namin. Lahat naman ng ginagawa namin is iisa lang ang goal, yun ay yung may manood sa mga live shows namin na makikita nyo sa Comedy Manila.

GB: Keep watching the live shows and our open mic. Help inform people about the craft that a joke is no different from a painting or a piece of music, and should never be used or copied without permission. 

Muman: By sharing our content legitimately. Copying our jokes and videos makes it harder for us. Watch out shows, I am not saying you should like us, but you should at least by watching us live.

Where do you see The KoolPals five years from now? 

Rems: Ngiwi na isa sa amin dahil sa stroke. 

James: Si Ryan Rems yung na-stroke, de joke lang. In five years, ang personal goal ko para sa KoolPals ay mapuno namin ang Araneta Coliseum. Kahit wag na yung Philippine Arena, kasi bawal kami dun.

GB: The KoolPals will be helping more comedians build their own shows and find their comedy audience. 

Muman: Doing another NYLON interview. Hopefully with a bit of money

Finish this sentence: Filipino comedy is ____

Rems: Not me. 

James: Unique

GB: getting bigger and funnier! 

Muman: Here and it’s going to stay either you like it or not 🙂

Tickets to The KoolPals Block Party: a Stand-Up Comedy + Music Special are still available. You can get them here

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