Comedian Norman Mitchell has been away from local showbizfor years. Now he's making a comebackthrough the comedy-talent search in dzMM called Laugh Out Loud (LOL).
It may be recalled that Norman was first known in showbusiness through his radio program Kumusta mga Bisaya. Then, he made people laugh in the afternoonvariety show 'Sang Linggo nAPO Sila and the weekly sitcom SuperLaff-In.
This native of Davao also had a few movies before his careerin showbiz came to a halt. He workedwith Eric Quizon and Redford White in Wanted Perfect Murder (1996); thelate Babalu in Haba Baba Doo, Puti-Puti Poo (1998); and Vic Sotto andRosanna Roces in Basta't Ikaw Nangingig Pa (1999).
Since he stopped appearing in radio and TV shows, Normanadmitted that what he misses most was, "Facing the camera. Kinakabahan na ako kasi matagal na akongabsent, e."
In a short interview with PEP (Philippine EntertainmentPortal) after the press conference of LOL, Norman gave us a littleupdate about his life after his last appearance in television.
The comedian said that it had always been his dream to makepeople smile since he was a kid. "That's one of my dreams, kasi sabi ko, ‘I wanna make the whole worldlaugh.'"
Through his perseverance to achieve this dream, Norman wasable to travel to different countries. "Medyo na-achieve ko rin," he said, "Not only here sa Pilipinas kasipati Europe, Middle East, U.S, naka-tour din ako, nagsho-show din akodoon. So, naabot ko na rin ang akingpangarap."
How did he end up in show business?
Norman said that he was 24 years old when he started workingas a folk singer here in Manila. "Aksidente. Parangaksidente. Kasi parang may isang partynoon ang ABS-CBN na na-invite ako. 'Tapos nagustuhan ako ng the late Genny Lopez Sr. Nagustuhan niya ako, 'tapos ginamit-gamit nanila ako.
"Eventually, nakapasok ako sa radio, sa dzMM radio noong '95or '96. Seven years ako nandoon. Then,nakuha ako sa Super Laff In and then, pumasok ako sa 'Sang LinggonAPO Sila."
When he stopped appearing in television and movies, Normanwent back to doing corporate shows, where his career really started. "Kahitwala pa ako sa TV noon, kahit sa radio,sa mga corporate shows talagaako nabubuhay. So, kahit na wala ako saTV o sa radio, corporate shows na lang ako. And abroad, doon ako tumitira [nagsho-show]," said Norman.
The Visayan comedian gave the credit to his exposure intelevision and movies for still being recognized by Filipinos abroad. "Nagulat nga ako 'yong mga bata kilala ako,'yon pala dahil sa mga pelikula ko," he told PEP.
Norman said that because of his shows abroad, he now has tocarefully choose the projects he would do. For instance, he accepted LOL because the episodes would bepre-taped.
He further explained, "Ayaw ko rin tumanggap ng mga maramingcommitments sa TV at radio kasi once na mag-abroad ako maiiwan ko 'yon. Magagalit sila sa akin kasi madalas biglaan,biglaang alis."
NORMAN AS A COMEDIAN. Paradoxically, Norman is naturally shy in person. "Kasi sa totoong buhay, kapag off the stageako, ano ako, e, silent type ako. Hindi ako nagsasalita, good listener langako, e," he described himself.
So, how does he shift to being a comedian when goes onstage?
"Ang comedy ko karamihan nasa audience, e. What you see, what you hear, bato mo naagad, parang ganun," answered Norman.
He said that he's more comfortable working on an impromptupiece than memorizing or practicing what he would perform on stage.
"Kasi minsan, tanong mo ako, ‘Magsho-show ka ngayon? Ano'ng gagawin mo?' [Sasagot ako], ‘Hindi kopa alam.' ‘Ano'ng kakantahin mo? Isulatmo nga sa akin.' Okay, isusulat ko peropagdating ko sa stage hindi ko rin masusunod iyon, e. Kung ano ang nasa isip ko, ano 'yong nasa utak ko, yun na. Bigla ko ring babaguhin 'yon, di rinmasusunod."
He added, "Kailangan lang diyan timing, e. Timing lang kasi kahit na maganda angmaterial mo, kung hindi mo nai-timing masyado, 'yon ang problema. Nakukuha mo sila pero hilaw.'
"TAPOS NA AKO." The veteran comedian admitted that he felt sad when he no longerreceived movie and TV projects, but he has learned to accept this fate.
"Alam mo, showbiz kasi may malungkot na side, may lonelyside. Ganun lang iyan. Kailangan kapag showbiz ka, habang kumikita,mag-ipon. Kasi once you're medyo anona... Para kang laruan, e. Para kang manika, kapag sawa na sa'yo angbata, throw away ka na, sideline ka muna.
"Okay lang naman ako kasi sa pelikula hindi ko talagainaasahan. Hindi ko kine-cater talagasa pelikula. Sa stage lang talagaako. Sa ngayon, wala na akong liveshows na ganito [sa mga comedy bars], karamihan ko mga private or special showsna talaga."
He does not mind that there are younger comedians who cometo replace veteran comedians like him.
"They have their own time," he said. "Ako mayroon din naman akong sarilingtime. Tapos na ako. Mamaya, alam mo kasi kapag comedy kapag two,three years, kapag hindi mo narinig, parang bago na naman sa inyo. Kasi, halimbawa, 'yong nakinig sa 'yo noonay five years old pa lang, pagdating niya ng ten, 'yon pa rin naman angaudience mo, e, kuha mo pa rin siya. Ang comedy kasi, regardless of age, walang problema iyan, e."
Norman was just glad that he had an opportunity to savemoney for himself while he was still active in showbiz. In fact, he was able to put up a gradeschool in Parañaque with his hard-earned money and with the help of hispartners.
So, as we ended the interview, Norman left some advice foraspiring young comedians."Alam mo kapag sumikat ka, huwag lumaki ang ulo athuwag mag-drugs—that's the most important one. Kapag nag-drugs kayo, goodbye na 'yon. At saka mag-ipon, while it's raining! Kumuha ka ng balde, mag-iponka. Kapag wala nang ulan, wala na'yan."