When we think of stand-up comedy in Manila today, the name Red Ollero immediately comes to mind. Some say he’s a gateway comedian; for others, he’s the guy who loves Chickenjoy. But for most of his fans, it’s just Red = “laughtrip”. In this CLAVEL feature, we shine a spotlight on Red Ollero, a seasoned comedian, actor, host, and podcaster who has become an OG of sorts in the Philippine stand-up comedy circuit.

Now entering his 2024 with a new movie out called “I Am Not Big Bird” with co-actor Enrique Gil and a highly anticipated Netflix special called “Mabuhay Is A Lie.” We got the chance, before his Netflix announcement, to sit down and to talk to Red about what’s funny and what’s true. 

 

Origin Story

“I always gravitated towards the funny guys.”  

Red’s love for comedy traces back to his childhood. While he originally dreamed of becoming a comic book artist, drawing inspiration from the whimsical world of “Pugad Baboy” by Pol Medina Jr., he eventually discovered a natural talent for making people laugh through his jokes. Inspired by renowned comedians like Rex Navarette, Pablo Francisco, Dave Chappelle, and others, Red began his journey into the world of comedy at a very young age.

His entry into the industry came unexpectedly when he joined a contest on Jack TV (Edgy millennials, wru at?) with no prior experience. Falling in love with the art form, Red joined Comedy Cartel and started performing in bars and small venues. It was a humble beginning, but it laid the foundation for his future success.

On Red featuring a custom kimono by AMU

Talking about his first show, Red recalls the nerves and excitement that accompanied it. Late and drenched from the rain, he made his way to Cafe Agogo in Ortigas. The venue may have been underwhelming, but Red got his much needed gig experience. It was the start of a journey that would shape his comedic style.

As Red continued to immerse himself in the comedy scene, he found inspiration from his parents. His father, with his storytelling skills, and his creatively inclined mother, unknowingly contributed to his own unique comedic style. Ranting yet hilarious, Red’s jokes often mirror his mother’s expressive anger and his father’s humor.

 

Making A Joke

“I don’t think it should be called a joke if it’s not funny. The intention is always to be funny.”

Almost everyone can seem like a naturally funny person but for people who do it for a living, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Crafting a good joke isn’t an easy task, according to Red. It needs to be undeniably funny, relatable, and concise. With limited time on stage, every word counts, and trimming unnecessary fat becomes essential. And more importantly, a great joke should also introduce a slice of the comedian’s life, offering a glimpse into their perspective.

“Ang creative process is to exist” 

Red shares, “If you’ve written jokes for a long time, it opens up a sense in you. You see things differently.” It almost seems like there’s a joke factory in Red’s head. Always observing and ideating. 

However, even the most seasoned comedians face their fair share of challenges. In recent years, Red struggled with writer’s block, finding it difficult to write new material despite being surrounded by amazing things happening in his life. He was shooting a movie, making a Netflix special, and got a dog. But despite all that he struggled to write new material. It was a frustrating period that tested his resilience and dedication to his craft.

 

Not Pushing Boundaries

“A lot of people put comedians on this pedestal na parang “truth sayers or modern day philosophers” but  “we just really want to make people laugh.”

It’s hard enough to make a living out of being creative and being a comedian today comes with its own set of challenges, particularly in the age of cancel-culture. Red experienced firsthand the thin line comedians must tread between being funny and facing backlash. But rather than tiptoeing around the culture, Red decided to go all in and embrace his unapologetic self. He believes that comedy should not be silenced or censored, as it represents the comedian’s unique point of view.

Finding Your Comedic Voice

“The whole point of stand up comedy is to show the world your point of view”

Every compelling comedian has their own comedic voice, sort of like a signature flavor of humor. For Red, finding his comedic voice was a significant milestone in his career. What started out as him curating what he thought he was, like avoiding fat jokes and sticking to nerdy humor, turned into embracing his authentic experiences and becoming himself in the process. It required introspection, embracing vulnerability, and making fun of himself. In the end, he discovered that his genuine self was funny enough for people, leading to a breakthrough in his comedic style.

“I had to really learn how to give myself value.” 

Throughout his comedic journey, Red realized the importance of separating his value as a person from his value as a comedian. It was a mental battle of self-acceptance, finding love for himself beyond his performances. Now, as he performs in theaters and receives love from his audience, Red has learned to appreciate his worth beyond his craft.

 

The Red Ollero Show

“What I’m really trying to do is to present who I am on stage. To be unapologetically myself.”

Now, with more than a decade under his belt, Red finds himself playing regular shows at theaters with fellow seasoned comedians from the local powerhouse, Comedy Manila. If you have ever watched a show featuring Red, you would know that they put value on curating experiences for their audience. From lights and music to seating arrangements, Red, along with the rest of Comedy Manila, meticulously creates an atmosphere that is perfect for comedy.

For Red, stand up comedy is all about the sprinkling of the punchlines, the wording, the choice of words, the trimming, the timing, the execution, the combination of it all and all the pageantry and theatrics. That’s what makes a show. That’s what makes a Red Ollero show. That’s what he wants you to see. Making his experiences and observations funny, presented with no inhibitions. 

Catch more of Red by watching his new movie “I Am Not Big Bird” in cinemas and set a reminder for his upcoming special on Netflix titled “Mabuhay Is A Lie.” 

Follow Red Ollero on your favorite social media platforms and listen to his ongoing podcast series called “Bago Matulog with Red Ollero” to stay updated with his laugh out loud takes on life.

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