Dolphy, the basketball coachBy Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SHAH ALAM, Malaysia—I dropped for now a column about sports here in Malaysia as I am on the road again for an academic conference in this city 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur.
My wife Gigi texted me that Dolphy had passed away. I thought about his partner Zsa Zsa whom we had worked with in the 1990s, when the local entertainment scene was alive with concerts every week. I thought about his actor-director son Eric who was thrilled we liked his direction of his father in a full-length TV movie on fatherhood. There was also Ronnie, the athletic Quizon who played all the sports in the Star Olympics.
After all the laughs he gave us, it was but fair that I give this space to the Comedy King who once acted as a coach.
That’s right. As the news finally sunk in with Facebook friends repeatedly saluting Dolphy, I thought about the time in the 1990s when yours truly, Chot Reyes and a handful of other PBA players were guests in the hit TV sitcom Home Along Da Riles. The PBA gang played as a barangay team and I was the game barker.
I had one scene with Dolphy when, according to him, he did his version of Tim Cone complaining about a call. The game was getting out of control and one player hurled the ball at him. He ducked and I got the full force of the errant pass and “acted” like I was out for the count. The whole gag had Dolphy’s hand written all over it as he rehearsed the scene with us quickly before the actual take.
I’m not very straightforward when asking for a photo of me and a celebrity to be taken but I did not hesitate to ask photographer Tony Lu, who documented the whole shoot, to snap one with me and the comedy giant. I just had to have one with the man who made Tagalog translations of songs so outrageously funny, wearing loose shorts a fad and single fatherhood as just another challenge to face with a chuckle.
Before the basketball scenes were taped at the unholy but natural show biz hour of one in the morning, Dolphy revealed to us his keen basketball knowledge. He knew his hoops history and the latest about the PBA at the time. He could mimic many of the funny things that happen in local hoops but did it in the hushed tone he had when he was away from the spotlight.
I guess only a great comedian knows that comedy happens when one is dead serious in doing something and finds nothing hilarious in the heat of the moment. Just like when John or Mang Kevin were desperately trying to do something seriously right, it usually ended up as a comedic mess.
I read often that Dolphy continued following the local game and the NBA at home, especially when he could no longer go out to work as often. As a great dancer, he probably found the offensive patterns and athletic moves akin to the show performances he did in bodabil, TV or in movies.
Remember the movie El Pinoy Matador? Dolphy could wave that red cape as graceful as any señor.
And now the Philippines has lost the man that tickled its funny bone. He tickled us when he was our coach and we laughed along with him. We will always remember his best play: That life isn’t fair but it doesn’t mean we can’t joke or laugh about it. We did so that day when we were along the riles and as we remember him for all time.
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