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Comedian lectures on laughter

Jokes are rooted in a culture but their relatability is boundless, a famous performer said last July 12 at the Audio-Visual Theater.

Gabe Mercado, a commercial endorser, actor, and TV host, said a joke does not need to be green or brown to make people laugh.

“A joke with humor and an emotional truth accompanied with an emotional ‘bang’ of relatability makes someone laugh,” Mercado said during his lecture entitled, “The Art of Laughter,” which was part of the 2014 Albert Faurot Lecture Series.

In 2002, Mercado founded Silly People’s Improv Theater (SPIT), an improvisational group in the Philippines, after being trained by the Father of Modern Improv, Paul Sills, at the Wisconsin Theater Games in the United States.

According to Mercado improvisational theater or improv is a stage act where actors do not have scripts, do not rehearse and do not follow the regular standard of theater acting.

He added that he formed SPIT mainly to promote improv in the Philippines and to create another dimension of fun and humor.

“Improvisation in SPIT is immediately applicable to real life situations. It is humor that one can relate to. [We perform] situations [that] really happen in our society,” Mercado said.

Practice makes perfect

Mercado said that in order to be an effective improv actor, one must have self-confidence as it enables a person to connect with the audience.

He added that an improv actor must be well-read and curious in order to be more innovative, playful, and creative on stage.

“An actor doesn’t need to be smart. Just expose yourself to history and philiosphy. Be curious, enrich yourself and have something that sets you on fire,” Mercado said.

Mistakes are blessings

In most theater acts, mistakes are not acceptable. However, for SPIT, failures are blessings, said Mercado.

According to SPIT’s artistic director, he has experienced a lot of mistakes during his performances.

But despite the errors, Mercado added that the show must go on.

“Celebrate failure and move on quickly. It’s not you who failed but the character you portrayed,” he said.

Improv as a helping tool

Aside from sharing laughter to the people, Mercado said that SPIT has been doing socio-civic programs that train and prepare disaster-prone communities for quick thinking.

“The art of improvisation can help people to act quickly and react immediately. It also allows communities to have a comfortable [form of] communication making the dissemination of information faster,” Mercado said.

SPIT returned to Dumaguete after three years. It offered another unscripted, unrehearsed, and totally spontaneous taste of humor last July 11-12 at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium.

By Kathryn Ged Ballesteros

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