Stand-up comedian Mike Unson serves ‘mayhem’ with unique brand of ‘wholesome’ humor

June 21, 2017 - 4:49 PM
Mike Unson. (Photo by Marco Soliven)

Unlike many other stand-up comedians, Mike Unson is not the type who will resort to cuss words or toilet humor to get cheap laughs. As a matter of fact, he takes pride in using the word “wholesome” to describe his unique brand of observational point-of-view humor.

“Ever since I started, that’s what I’ve really wanted. I want to be one of those performers that offer an alternative for audiences who want something different or are tired of the usual mainstream stand-up comedy in the Philippines,” Mike told InterAksyon following his recent well-received comedy show, “Mayhem in the First Degree,” at Century Mall in Makati City.

“By mainstream, I mean the kind of stand-up comedy you see in places like Quezon City. It’s more of shock comedy, insult theater and often known for their sexual and vulgar content. There is a big market for that kind of comedy. What entertainers like me offer is an alternative to that.”

Even with this rather unorthodox approach, at least by the usual stand-up comedy standards, Mike became one of the most sought-after performers in the live circuit over the course of his eventful 14-year career.

One of the mainstays of the acclaimed stand-up comedy group The Comedy Cartel, which also produced the likes of founding member Tim Tayag, Alex Calleja and Victor Anastacio, among many others, Mike elicited guffaws mainly for his material that often consisted of his childhood memories, relationships and interactions with everyday people.

Specifically, Mike’s greatest hits include his colorful encounters with cab and jeepney drivers, street vendors, mall security guards, his childhood nanny and less than talented bands.

“I’d like to think that my material is very relatable. Many of my jokes fall under the umbrella topic of family. Also popular with audiences is my ‘What if’ series like what if there was already a social media during Biblical times, I also talk about everyone’s fantasy about wanting to be a hero, people who look like someone famous is something that people automatically find funny,” he added.

Filipinos appreciate those who laugh at themselves so it’s also not surprising that Mike’s self-deprecating humor is popular with audiences. How Mike copes with being friendzoned and being a middle child are two more of the many real-life situations that many could relate to.

As timing is everything when it comes to comedy, Mike is very much adept at building up comic rhythm which he concludes with well-timed punchlines and thought-provoking insights. It also doesn’t hurt that he delivers his jokes with a straight face that further enhances their audience impact.

It wasn’t always like this for the Makati-based 39-year-old entertainer, however. A Production Design and Technical Theater major, Mike started his entertainment career behind the scenes as stage manager for ballet recitals and other shows. By the time he mustered the courage to take centerstage, the country and later, the rest of the world has also begun to take notice.

Since he began performing professionally in 2003, Mike has opened for Rob Schneider, David Sedaris and Rex Navarrete, all renowned comedians in their own right.

Last year, Mike’s popular act was recognized with an Aliw Award nomination for Best Stand-Up Comedian. Even as his stock continues to rise, Mike’s “wholesome” image has eventually caught on and is a big reason why he remains a popular performer.

Mike has also invaded our living rooms on numerous occasions. He was a mainstay of shows like TV5’s “Front Act,” and Studio 23’s “The Men’s Room.” He was also a recurring guest on Jojo Alejar’s “The Medyo Late Night Show.” He is currently part of the creative team of GMA Network’s popular sitcom, “Pepito Manaloto,” as brainstormer and translator.

This year, Mike will mark another career milestone as he is set to release a comedy album on Spotify. But for now, fans can catch him live this Saturday, June 24, in “Mike, Chris & Roy’s Mayhem Adventure” together with fellow comedian Chris Bacula and musical performer Roy Antonio at the Conspiracy Garden Café along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City.

Like “Mayhem in the First Degree,” Mike promises his upcoming show to be a much-needed respite from “all the unpleasant news on TV and social media” that people have been subjected to as of late. Given the way he keeps his audiences in stitches, that’s a promise he is likely to fulfil.