“I’m not a nurse. I just play one in my husband’s sex fantasies” cracked comedian Patricia Dingsalan who emceed this first scheduled comedy night outside the Lower East Side Filipino-inspired café, Kabisera, on November 21, 2020. The event was a fundraiser for Democrat Deirdre Levy’s 2021 primary campaign for New York City Council in Brooklyn, District 35.
With New York City’s theaters, nightclubs, bars and restaurants having been initially closed by March 16, 2020, in order to halt the spread of Covid-19, and then they’re being regimentally reopened some monhts later, this street side exhibition was a welcome diversion. A microphone “condom,” distanced masked audience seating, and performers’ faces frequently covered, were all signs of the times taken in stride. It was joyous to once again experience the familiar atmosphere of a comedy club for 75 minutes.
If victorious, Ms. Levy would be the first Filipino-American elected to the New York City Council. This sense of ethnic pride was affirmed by the roster of comics who were all of Filipino extraction. The animated Ms. Dingsalan got the show off to a perfect start with her wry monologue and she delivered sharp patter in between sets. The bill of uniformly mirthful comedians was comprised of Michael Cruz Kayne, Dominique Nisperos, Wilfred Padua, Josh Riesgo and Marcus Cardona.
Dating during the pandemic, the preponderance of Filipinos in the nursing profession, politics, stereotypical behaviour, the immigrant experience and overbearing parents, were among the topics of their often funny and insightful observational material. There were a number hilarious asides in the spirit of Don Rickles, as passersby were targeted, heckled and engaged with by some of the comics.
Kabisera opened in 2017 and is owned by Filipino-Americans Augee Francisco and Joey Payumo. In April, they solicited donations to fund delivering free coffee and food to hospital workers. In June, they began weekend outdoor pop-up events with Filipino food and clothing vendors, and more stand-up comedy nights are planned.
151 Allen Street, in Manhattan