A few years ago, Tomato Kick opened its doors to standup comedy. I had a small part in helping it get started, indeed, but it was really GB Labrador who was the one who really made that scene grow, with Lui's blessings. It was amazing, really: I couldn't have felt more happy that there was a place for comedians to hone their craft and get better as performers. There's a reason why GB is one of the most respected comedians around, and his undeniable passion for the craft is arguably that reason.
We built this city on laughs. We made it happen, because nothing but good things can come out from a collection of people who just want to entertain.
It was amazing. We managed to make something of ourselves through all of that, as time went on and on. Standup comedy in the Philippines grew and grew, presenting itself as more than an adequate alternative to the Vice Gandas of the industry, albeit nowhere nearly as popular. And that was fine. That wasn't a problem. We just wanted to do our own thing, and for better or worse, Tomato Kick was a witness to a whole lot of that.
That night in particular, I went with a classic set punctuated by a few new flourishes I've been working on for weeks. I wanted to cap things off on a high note, though, so I went ahead and did my psychokinesis routine, because that's always a crowd-pleaser.
Little did I know I was going to do more than just entertain that night, when I got this from the fine lady who stepped up onstage with me...
Closing time, turn off all the lights on every boy and every girl...
It was funny, really. I may have missed that fateful night when some comics got arrested for whatever reason last year or so. I may have also missed that night where a fight pretty much broke out in the bar. But I always knew that I was surrounded by a crazy bunch, and boy, did I appreciate them for that. It was crazy, but you can't go wrong hanging around people who look at the absurdity of life and laugh in the face of it for a living. These were people you simply cannot ever forget about.
I had countless experiences and memories in Tomato Kick, from their awesome nachos to their incomparable Alfredo Marinara, but overall, the thing that made TK Katipunan rock for me was that it was a bastion for comedy at a point where we felt that we were completely irrelevant and even invisible. I realize that comedy has been cyclical and that we have had pioneers long before already ply their trade here, but it's hard to deny that as more performers came along, the audience grew along with it.
It's a small world, and it's serious business. Egos. Feuds. Battle scars. These things definitely are a part of the comedy world, but I've learned to accept them as a matter of course and realize that they are part of the craft, no matter how uncomfortable they can sometimes get. In the end, though, when the comedians come together to deliver the goods, then egos be damned, that's what they end up doing, and Tomato Kick was one of the biggest reasons that remains possible to this very day.
Three years of memory really do come by quickly when you're having fun. Wednesday night was definitely a wonderful culmination of everything we comics have done, from Comedy Cartel to Comedy Manila to Comedy Mayhem to all the independent open mic guys who went and plied their trade because being a comedian is more important than having to worry about who's aligned with what.
Closing time, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here...
I definitely loved Tomato Kick. It didn't matter what the case was, I made it a point to be there as often as I could, whether to perform or even just to watch and support other comics. I've probably spent over half a hundred hours onstage and gotten my beak wet in comedy far longer than anywhere else, and let's face it: my first ever 20-minute set happened in Tomato Kick, and I never even thought I was capable of that before I tried it. I can't help but reiterate my thanks to GB for that: he gave me that opportunity, and I ran with it.
It's kind of weird thinking that next week, TK will no longer be around, but the people who were part of it, from the comics to Lui to even Jerome, our favorite server, will always have an unbreakable bond forged by the fires of standup comedy. For better or worse, there's no escaping the legacy of TK.
So thank you, Tomato Kick. Thanks for the memories, and thanks for being an amazing part of Philippine standup comedy. Some say this is the end of an era, with you closing down, and with us comics needing to find a new stronghold for our craft, but I simply say that this is far from the end. There is a lot more to come, and what you have instilled in all of us will shine on through wherever we go next.