Ethel Booba, that funny girl, should not sell herself short the way I did. To clarify, I did not sell myself short—I sold her short. For no good reason, I might add, except that I mistook her for someone not to be taken seriously. People who make other people laugh for a living probably have to contend with that—not being taken seriously—on a frequent basis; the problem with being the entertainment is that the audience will dismiss you as nothing more than the amusement, good for laughs and nothing else. But occasionally, the entertainment will surprise you.
Ethel’s stage name plays on her obvious physical attributes but the drawback to playing on the obvious is that the appeal is surface. If I may be allowed to make a not particularly mordant observation, when the attraction is based on surface, it tends to be—I’m warning you—superficial. I once read about this make-up artist named Way Bandy who during his time was the top of his field in New York. He worked with the top fashion magazines and designers and models and landed the most lucrative contracts. Fashion makes its dime on surface appearances which earns it a reputation for shallowness. This isn’t really fair considering that clothing is one of mankind’s basic needs, plus fashion is a billion-dollar industry that employs millions of workers and artists. If it opens itself to parody, it’s because fashion, at times, takes itself too seriously and Bandy was not unaware of this. Of his profession’s focus on the exterior, he said, “Scratch the surface and what do you get—more surface.”
Now that was mordant. And you know who else is mordant? There is evidence Ethel Booba is. The last day for filing one’s certificate of candidacy for next year’s national and local elections fell last Wednesday the 17th. Among those who trooped to the Commission on Elections were Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.These three stand accused of plunder but that did not stop them, not for a minute, from seeking re-election to the Senate. Regarding his candidacy and that of JV Ejercito, the son of Joseph Estrada and ladyfriend Guia Gomez, Jinggoy admitted, ““We are not on speaking terms actually,” adding though, “kung ako masusunod gusto ko dalawa kami manalo sa senado.” Ethel was quick to tweet: “Kung ako masusunod kahit wag ka na. Charot.”
Juan Ponce Enrile also got Ethel’s attention. The typewritten certificate of candidacy of the former Minister of Defense of Ferdinand Marcos stated, in the box describing the candidate’s occupation, that Enrile was a “businesswoman.” The faux pas was eventually corrected but not before Ethel tweeted, “Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile granted of bail due to his poor health condition. At age of 94 you should rest and enjoy your life as a businesswoman (according to his COC form). Charot! ”
As for Bong Revilla, she advised, “Kuha po kayo ng NBI clearance sa Counter 6. Charot!”
I don’t remember where I read that the difference between a comic and a comedian is that a comic opens funny doors while a comedian opens doors funny. With those comments, I don’t think anyone can accuse Ethel Booba of being merely another pair of boobs, or merely a plain boob, period. Booba, I should add, also plays on the word boob, meaning a complete idiot, while boba is a stupid woman. While Ethel may not win the Fields Medal anytime soon, it takes a certain intelligence to zero in on the hilarious where hilarity is not apparent. It’s been said that life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think. Certainly for those who feel that this country is going nowhere fast, the coming elections are a tragedy, but for those who think that this country is going nowhere fast, 2019 is a potential goldmine, a rich vein of opportunity to skewer the egos and pretensions of those who presume to rule over us.
There is comedy, and then there is comedy. Physical comedy is the province of comics and from what I can tell, Ethel Booba isn’t that, or at least she’s no longer that. Neither can her tweets be written off as catty remarks, which are the basest form of humor, I think, baser than puns which are supposed to be the lowest. The best humor emanates from pain and hurt and disappointments, which is why I think black humor is so much edgier than white humor, and female comedians more interesting than male comedians. In the space of the 280-character limit set by Twitter, Ethel captures the electorate’s frustration with the same old politicians, dynasties, campaign promises unfulfilled and self-serving public service. This comedian is a surrogate.
It’s true. Why should job applicants be required by prospective employers to submit police clearances and disclose any pending criminal cases against them while politicians accused of stealing from the public may seek re-election without such documents? Why should members of the same family be permitted to run for multiple public offices? Why should an architect of martial law, the embodiment of traditional politics, not give way to fresh blood? Yet here we are—again.
Charot, Ethel’s digital sign-off, translates to “Just kidding!” But is she? This woman’s comedic smarts go deeper than her cleavage, and that’s saying something. G