It was the animated video called “Maritess vs The Superfriends” that introduced me to the renowned Fil-Am comedian Rex Navarrete. Fast forward to about a decade later when I had the chance to actually watch him perform live recently at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila. The wait was well worth it, especially since the venue made it more comfortable to watch the show, “Top Picks,” which also featured the magic of Eric Mana, and another stand-up comedian, Mike Unson.
Eric Mana was the first front act of the night. A professional magician and mentalist, he wowed the crowd with his smooth tricks on stage. My favorite was his version of Russian roulette where he used an automatic staple gun and successfully guessed where the last “bullet” was placed, with the help of a volunteer from the audience. He performed other magic tricks, none of which were the cheesy hat-trick type. He even did a bit of comedy himself when he played a trick with an unsuspecting audience member, which made the rest of the audience laugh their socks off.
The other front act was local-born comedian Mike Unson. He first opened for Rex Navarrete in 2004 and has been collaborating with him ever since. This 34-year-old prefers talking about stuff in the Philippines—from the mundane to the very specific, but he generally veers away from anything related to politics. That night, his jokes ranged from dating to teleseryes. At the latter part of his act, he even did a fine impression of Jack Nicholson’s character from the movie, “A Few Good Men.”
Indeed, the two front acts did a good job in whetting our appetite for the main event.
Finally, it was Rex Navarrete’s turn on stage, and I must say, he looked pretty comfortable up there. It wasn’t just because he wore a simple jeans and polo get-up. It was probably because he’s been doing stand-up comedy for 23 years now, and has been full-time with it since 2002. He is based in Portland, Oregon, but he travels back and forth to the Philippines whenever he has gigs here. Most of the time though, he works all over the U.S
It was fun watching him perform, as his comedic timing was perfect. His jokes were about things that every Filipino would be able to relate to, and he was able to weave his material smoothly. I was impressed with the way he delivered his jokes, as well as his impersonations of famous personalities such as Manny Pacquiao. He even went as far as to imitate the way Manny sang during his guesting in the show of Jimmy Kimmel, and it was hilarious. “Sometimes when we tatz, the honesty is too matz…”
I had a chance to chat with Rex Navarrete backstage and he mentioned that he gets his material from stuff that has been on his mind already. He shares, “I read about stuff that pertains to us Filipinos. I look to my old family—growing up. I write from our instinct—what would a Filipino do in this situation, what kind of opinions we would have in this situation… Sometimes the material just comes out of nowhere. I just tend to improvise. Every show is a different show. Stand-up gives you the freedom to go off-script and have fun as you go.”
They say “Laughter is the best medicine” and you will definitely get your dose of it when you catch Rex Navarrete on stage. Check out his website to see his schedule of upcoming shows.