DUBAI: Working as executive assistant to a CFO, you’d imagine her to be prim and proper at day. But all that changes when the sun goes down.
Meet Imah (pronounced: ee-mah) Dumagay, the lass from Cotabato, who has lately been keeping Dubai up at nights laughing out loud.
“My name is Fatimah but I have reduced it to Imah because I’m no longer fat,” is her usual icebreaker whenever on stage in a roomful of strangers – indeed, it takes a lot to be funny with all weary eyes on you.
Imah, who arrived in Dubai on a visit visa 11 years ago, said stand-up comedy is her passion.
“My day job is my bread and butter. I enjoy it specially that I have a very supportive boss. Stand-up comedy on the other hand is my passion. It’s challenging to make strange people laugh but once you manage to do so, it’s really satisfying. Laughter is a stress-buster, so in my own little way, I want to help them de-stresses even for a short while,” Dumagay said.
Dumagay started doing stints as a stand-up comedian last year. “I’m always told that I have a knack for making people laugh, so I decided to try it. So far, maganda naman po ang reception ng mga audience,” she said.
She said she gets her jokes “mostly po from my life story, experiences then I slightly tweak it.” Not to mean, of course, that her life is a joke. She admits nonetheless that she “sometimes exaggerate to make it funnier.”
The late King of Philippine Comedy, Dolphy once remarked that it’s ok if a drama actor fails to make the crowd cry, but never ok when a comedian fails to make people laugh.
Taking off from this, Dumagay recalls a moment when her audience did not get the punchline.
“There was this time na the joke went really flat and it’s all because I talked so fast tapos nagka-tech problem so when I said the punch, lahat sila naka-kunot nuo parang ‘What?!? Nag-panic ako pero I had to contain myself. So I made fun of it then proceeded to the next joke. Kelangan ready ka din sa mga ganung instances, yung quick ka dapat mag-improvise,” she said.
For those wanting to be stand-up comedians, here’s the drill: “ 1. There should be an interest to do it kasi that interest will be key in overcoming the challenges in learning, writing, and of course performing. 2. keep writing jokes/material. 3. Be original/authentic. Copying others’ work can end your comedy career very fast. 4. keep performing in open mics or in front of your friends, family, colleagues to improve delivery. And 5. Learn from the pros. There are so many videos available online of popular comedians. They’re inspiring,” Dumagay said.