alt

To most of her admirers, Mitch Valdes will always be a comedienne. But, she doesn’t really think of herself as such: “I just have a funny outlook in life,” she observes. When she was in high school, she would entertain her classmates during recess. She shares, “I wasn’t aware of my sense of humor—it just came naturally, because in our family, comedy is a way of life. My dad had the albums of standup comics like Bill Cosby and Sammy Davis Jr. Tapos, nung  kabataan ko, I loved watching the shows of Carol Burnett and Dean Martin.”

She’s proud of her theater roots, specifically in musical theater. And, given a choice, she’d pursue it as a profession. She recalls, “I was kicked out of school, and my parents separated, kaya walang family income! So, after high school, I was forced to get a job. Peque Gallaga used his connectionspara i-guest ako sa ‘Super Laff-In’ sa ABS-CBN in 1969-‘70. But, what people see on TV is what they’ll hire you for. So, forever na akong naging comedienne!”

When Mitch ventured into the movies, she thought it was an opportunity to tackle serious roles for a change. To her dismay, she was still assigned comic roles. “Medyo weird, kasi ako, ayokong nabababad sa isang medium or style—gusto ko, smorgasbord lagi. Kaya lang, dito, kapag smorgasbord ka, ‘di ka yayaman,’’she laughs.

Balladeer

She’s glad that, in the ‘90s, the likes of Janno Gibbs and Ogie Alcasid could do comedy and be romantic balladeers at the same time. She’s also glad that more people have accepted her as a singer.

What is her comedic style? She replies, “After I did ‘Tit for Tat’ with Nanette Inventor, where we portrayed multiple roles, I realized that there was a side of me that was dying to be just Mitch—without mask or camouflage! If I were to do comedy, I want it to come from me and from my personal experiences. Ang dami-dami, puwede akong magsulat ng libro!

“So, my style of comedy benefits from the power of observation—hindi patama sa iba, observation kung ano ang ginagawa ko in the situation I’m in. So, it’s very personal. I want to break down stereotypes. Kaya, ayun, TV could no longer take me because I didn’t want to be boxed in.

“Minsan, comedy has no punchline—it’s the situation that’s funny. For some time, I couldn’t take TV and vice versa—nag-uuntugan kami ng style—so, I did lounge acts, where there are no boxes!”

Style

When she was just starting, Mitch acquiesced to the demands of TV comedy: “Na-master ko ‘yon! Naabutan ko si Mang Nano (Pugo). We had a daily live show, ‘Oras ng Ligaya.’ I was the mascot with the kolehiyala accent. Nagulat sila na merong kolehiyala na kenkay. My trainers were Dolphy, Ading Fernando, Chichay, Chuchi, Aruray, Sylvia La Torre, Balut, Tange—all the greats at the tail-end of the vaudeville period. And, they all came from the theater—that’s what drew me to them.Hindi ‘yung style ng TV ngayon na one rehearsal, take, then just try to be as funny as possible.”

From the “masters” of comedy, Mitch learned discipline and timing: “May pagka-Charlie Chaplin ang comedy nila. You came from a certain sadness, pathos or tragedy, then you turned it around—I was attracted to that.”

Mitch usually performs her lounge acts without a script, she just lists down the topics: “I never know if it’s going to work until opening night, because there are no rehearsals. After the first night, pina-plantsa na namin with my director—bawas dito, dagdag doon, or we resequence the topics. It can give you a nervous breakdown—but, it’s been working so far.”

Her musical shows are a different matter. She shares, “I hire the best musicians, at may backupsingers pa! Para kang nanood ng play, ako nga lang ang taga-kuwento, singer and dancer! At ang script—tungkol sa buhay ko!”

Guests

For a while, she had guests on her show—usually the “crushes ng bayan.” She sighs, “Pero, ayoko na, nakakasira sa flow ng show. What songs can we do together without me looking like a pedophile?”

Most of Mitch’s admirers are women, because “I say what they are thinking. They’ve come to appreciate honesty and sincerity. They may not agree with me all the time, but it comes from a place where it feels real—I just put it in a humorous light, para hindi siya masyadong masakit.”

Mitch takes humor very responsibly. She muses, “My attitude toward my comedic gift is to treat it with integrity, so people keep coming back for more! I keep the dignity of the comedian, not the clown. Humor should always be treated with dignity!” inquirer.net

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