Sunday, March 21, 2010

‘Front Act’ indulges niche geek crowd

(Published March 21, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Geek humor and spontaneous exchanges abound in the weekly “Front Act,” an “alternative comedy show” hosted by young local funnymen Stanley Chi and Mike Unson. Mostly free-flowing and often treading the line between lowbrow and highbrow humor, the 30-minute show manages to elicit laughs--consistently in some episodes, sporadically in others--through safe but creative comedy.

Co-produced by Jako De Leon (TV host Joey De Leon’s son), “Front Act” has a flexible format that accommodates a variety of antics. Guests in one edition included MTRCB chair Marissa Laguardia, who gamely joined the hosts in a short but funny sketch about censored expletives, and even briefly appeared in one of the interview bits. Politicians have also appeared, chatting with the hosts, the exchanges often showing some interesting unguarded moments.

The better episodes have lengthy interviews with established comedians such as Vic Sotto and Jun Urbano (who generously talked about the creation of his “Mongolian Barbecue” character Mr. Shooli). Interviews with “characters” like deejay Ramon Bautista and Guru Shivaker are less absorbing, but still funny in some parts.

The show also indulges a niche geek crowd. Guests like cosplayers and a ventriloquist have talked about their respective crafts. Sometimes, Chi visits events like movie previews and fantasy-themed conventions, primarily to ask random attendees “Tambytes,” which can be valid or trick questions of the week (“Ano sa Tagalog ang ferris wheel,” “Ilang dwarves ang kasama ni Cinderella,” etc.).

Chi is confident and quick-witted when it comes to such conversations. Unson, meanwhile, is a talented standup comic; short clips showcasing his observant, self-deprecating humor cap off some episodes. As for the show’s other gags, they mostly work. Puppets resembling the hosts sneak in some laughs while thanking sponsors in the “Shameless Plugs” portion. However, another puppet sometimes appears, spouting puzzling witticisms that sound like inside jokes.

Despite the short running time, “Front Act” is able to cram in a number of regular segments. They’re not always funny, but the team does what it can with what it’s given. The show has untapped potential, so perhaps with an extra half hour and some careful fine-tuning, it will discover and utilize unexplored comedic territory.

“Front Act” previously aired on TV5.

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