At first blush, pairing Bayani Agbayani and Karla Estrada as husband and wife in a TV sitcom is a big risk. Bayani is a seasoned comedian. Karla is more known as a singer and the mother of Daniel Padilla. Her mettle in comedy is not tried and tested.
But ABS-CBN must have seen something else in the "Queen Mother." They tapped her to star as Carlita Delyon, dutiful wife of our hero Bigboy (Bayani) in its new sitcom-gag show Funny Ka, Pare Ko (airing every Sunday at 7 pm on Cinemo, ABS-CBN’s all-day movie channel).
The Bayani-Karla tandem is fresh. Some of the show’s stars are greenhorns in TV comedy. The names Mar Lopez, Walter Balinan, Diego and Gendent of the Crazy Duo are still unfamiliar to TV fans. Ryan Rems has had some exposure as the winner of the Funny One segment of the Kapamilya noontime TV show It's Showtime.
Funny Ka, Pare Ko takes a leap of faith for them.
FRESH TANDEM PAYS OFF. Lo and behold! The first episode shows the gamble is paying off. Bayani and Karla’s sweet looks and endearing words (“honeybunch”) show a chemistry that has the makings of a future Dolphy-Nida (in the well-loved John en Marsha and Home Along da Riles series) team-up.
Their eyes twinkle, their voices have a lilt in them when they address each other. Their body language speaks volumes. Big Boy dances, Carlita follows. She takes her younger brother (Jayson Gainza) under her wing, and Bigboy accepts him.
Even newbie TV comedians comprising Crazy Duo are doing their job. Their cries for pity after they’ve been duped may be over the top, but they make up for it by bringing loads of laughter as the episode moves on. It’s enough to make you forget that the next day is Manic Monday, and you have to go back to work.
Meanwhile, thanks to the Delyons’ good son Jay-Ar (Jesse James Ongteco), Bigboy’s unswerving loyalty to his wife and his readiness to lend a hand, you remember that values still have a place, especially in the home, where everything else begins (and ends).
In making a typical Pinoy family as the show’s centerpiece, Funny Ka, Pare Ko caters to a big chunk of the audience who can identify with the humble and kind-hearted Delyons. The appeal factor rises when the symbol of Filipino entrepreneurship--the carinderia--becomes the center of action.
THINGS TO GET OVER FROM. But just like the plot, which needs something difficult, something uncalled-for to move forward, Funny Ka, Pare Ko has its share of things to get over from.
Ninang Lolit (Beverly Salviejo) and her head-over-heels devotion to her hunky boyfriend Gardo (Manuel Chua) looks and acts too much like the typical cougar. Her tight mini-dresses, high-heeled strappy shoes and long false eyelashes, and the way she wraps her arms around Gardo is too predictable. And must they engage in PDA when it’s obvious what the status of their relationship is?
Speaking of relationships, aren’t Bigboy and Carlita too old when they fall in love at first sight (it usually happens to those who look like they’re in their 20s, at most) and decided they wanted something more permanent? Or did Bigboy and Carlita’s looks remain the same since the time they first saw each other to the time they had a son who’s clearly not a baby anymore?
Yes, people their age fall in love. But they know all about the pitfalls of love of at first sight and take their time in building a relationship. They don’t jump pell-mell into it the way the Delyons did.
Still, all is not lost. The values the sitcom shows make it something you’d like your children or little nephews and nieces to watch. The Bayani-Karla tandem exudes chemistry. The Crazy Duo’s comic timing is engaging.
Let’s hope the next episodes are an improvement from the first.
After all, Philippine TV needs a return to values-laden sitcoms. And Funny Ka, Pare Ko, may just fill this need.