Most comedians can’t make the horrifying colonial history of the Philippines funny, but James Roque isn’t like most comedians.
Roque lights up the stage with his energy, offering plenty of laughs straight off the bat by deciding to introduce himself in a ridiculously over-the-top manner, after giving us all instructions to go with it, of course. As a Filipino man, he launches into his set, a witty, rapid-fire collection of jokes and stories about his struggle to fit into his home country. It may be a slightly sad premise, but Roque keeps it from being a straight up cryfest with hilarious anecdotes, complete with perfect accents and perfect facial expressions.
In addition to perfectly written jokes, Roque shows dedication to his set with a set of pre-filmed commercials which drip with biting sarcasm about casual racism and classism in Filipino culture. He also pulls out all the stops with a satirical karaoke number rife with callbacks to his set, which is a fitting end to an hour of fine comedy.
Roque has the fast paced style of a comedian with confidence, and the writing ability of one who genuinely enjoys making people laugh. His passion for the craft is clear in the way he owns the stage and interacts with his audience. It’s bold to talk about this kind of topic in general, even bolder to joke about it, but Roque manages to achieve the perfect balance of satire and genuineness in Boy Mestizo that even more seasoned professionals find difficult to nail.
8/10: Filipino, Interrupted