Vice Ganda’s new game show challenges comedians to win by not laughing

Picture this: A showdown of top comedians pulling out every trick, antic, and punchline to crack each other up. But there’s a catch — no laughter allowed. The contestant who keeps a straight face until the end is declared the winner. This is the heart and source of laughter in Prime Video’s new game show, “LOL: Last One Laughing Philippines,” hosted by Vice Ganda.

Vice is joined by the country’s favorite comedic talents Victor Anastacio, Jayson Gainza, Pepe Herrera, Chad Kinis, Empoy Marquez, Kim Molina, Jerald Napoles, Negi, Tuesday Vargas, and Rufa Mae Quinto as contestants.

The unique concept or format is definitely what made Vice say yes to doing, for the very first time, a reality-game show that is “100-percent comedy.”

In an exclusive interview with The STAR, the TV host-comedian said, “It’s super fun and the entire program is comedy. Comedy siya talaga! It’s the first time I’ve hosted a program that is 100-percent comedy. The game shows I’ve hosted before were musical but they happened to have comedy because I was there. I just inject comedy.”

“Ito talaga, all throughout, comedy na comedy,” Vice stressed.

Hosted by Vice Ganda, ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Philippines’ is a six-part competition series where Filipino comedians face off in a no-holds-barred showdown of comedic prowess and self-control — all with the goal of making others laugh without cracking up themselves.

For Vice, if there’s one word to describe the show, it’s “extraordinary.” “I always explain that it’s extraordinary. In a comedy contest, you expect the funniest to win, na yun lang ang basis. But here, the winner is the one who doesn’t laugh.

“You won’t expect that it’s the challenge. You’d think the challenge is making people laugh or competing to be the funniest. Here, besides trying to be the best at making people laugh, it’s also about controlling the urge to laugh. And since usong-uso ngayon yung nonchalant, it’s the nonchalant who will win,” Vice quipped.

“That’s why I was so excited to do this. When I learned about this program, when I was offered this, I was super happy. I would be sad if I was not chosen as the host, and I would question myself why I wasn’t considered for the hosting role. Masayang-masaya ako na ako yung kinuha nilang host at nagawa ko siya.”

There have been offers in the past that Vice has since regretted not seizing that’s why completing this project spelled happiness. “And I’m extra happy right now because the staff, the entire production, sinasabi nila na ang saya-saya nila doon sa produkto, with the content that we’ve made.”

Vice is also very proud of the line-up of contestants, saying, “It’s diverse, very exciting that’s why this program makes me proud.”

What’s interesting and surprising to Vice was how the contestants would come up with certain strategies and performances to make their opponents laugh.

Vice explained, “Strategized talaga. Everyone was so strategic. If you’re not strategic, you’ll really be left behind because you should be aware that this is a competition and they intentionally try to make you laugh. You should always expect them to try to make you laugh. It’s not like you forget and start chatting, thinking it’s normal, not knowing they’re actually targeting you, so they each have their own strategies that will surprise you with how clever they are or how they’re really outsmarting you. Some didn’t strategize, but because they’re so funny, everyone ends up laughing.”

Vice teased that there was a contestant they knew was really funny, but because many of them were accustomed to performing comedy on stage, they expected that contestant to be overshadowed. It turned out that this was not the case at all because that contestant overshadowed many of the others’ performances in the show.

“Last One Laughing” is actually the Philippine version of a very successful, international franchise. The format became the most-watched title on Prime Video in Italy, France, and Germany. Versions in Mexico, Australia, India, Spain, Canada, The Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Sweden were also a hit.

Vice believes “Last One Laughing” will click with the Filipino audiences as well. As the comedian, also touted as the industry’s Unkabogable Star due to a series of blockbuster films and hit shows, said, “Filipinos love watching comedy content, right? They love watching comedy movies. For a time, sitcoms were so popular.

“(Comedy) just has different platforms. Before on TV, sikat na sikat ang sitcom then biglang sumikat sa mainstream film ang mga comedy kaya ‘di ba, yung mga pelikula ko nagsunod-sunod na nag-na-No. 1 in film festivals.”

Nowadays, Vice pointed out that comedy content and creators are also popular on digital platforms like TikTok and YouTube, among others, because Filipinos are interested and invested in the genre.

Laughter, Vice believes, is a big part of our culture. “Although hindi na siya ngayon pero dati ‘di ba yung Philippines, siya yung dineclare na happiest country, happiest people.”

Meanwhile, with “Last One Laughing” Philippines available in other territories, Vice believes this is also a great opportunity to showcase Filipino humor.

Asked what makes Filipino humor unique, Vice said, “Ay iba yung Filipino humor! Since the reach of this platform, Prime Video, is worldwide, makikita nila yung husay at saka talas ng Filipino comedy. Kasi syempre yung mga international content, napapanood natin ‘di ba. Yun ang nakikita nila. This one is different. Different siya tapos mabibigyan siya ng special platform. Dahil ang daming subscribers ng Prime Video, they will see how comedy is in the Philippines. Iba eh.”

For Vice, it’s because Philippine society is so colorful. “Iba yung kulturang masa. Of course, sa ibang bansa, wala naman silang kaparehas na level ng kamasahan ng kultura sa Pilipinas, ‘di ba? The experiences that Filipino comedians have are different, like those experiences happening in eskinitas?

“Kasi hindi ko alam kung may mga eskinita naman sa mga bansa nila kaya wala silang mashe-share na comedy about eskinita, the (so-called) kanal humor. Baka wala silang sing itim ng kanal namin dito sa Pilipinas kaya wala silang mashe-share na kanal humor,” Vice further quipped.

“Di ba yung yung kultura ng bunganga ng mga nanay natin dati — I don’t know if their culture is like that — but that’s why Philippine society is so special.”

Vice added that the Filipino society is so funny and that there are so many things about us that can inspire some of the best comedy material out there.  

“Like Jo Koy, right? Remember when he shared stories about his mom, and those really clicked,” said Vice.

“But that’s just one, a story about a Filipino mom. And here, there are so many real Filipino stories that our comedians will bring out in ‘LOL Philippines,’ so it’s different.

“Sabog, salbahe, mapangahas, baboy (laughs) may kababuyang taglay, ganun (Chaotic, naughty, daring, even vulgar, with that kind of mischief). But one of the things I love the most about the show is how it’s anchored in reality.”

(Produced by Amazon MGM Studios with Unitel Straight Shooters, “Last One Laughing Philippines” starts streaming today on Prime Video, which is available in the Philippines for P149 per month.)