How Fil-Am comedian JR de Guzman adapts to diverse audiences


Posted at May 03 2023 05:24 PM

JR de Guzman. Handout
JR de Guzman. Handout

JR de Guzman has been playing his standup show “Later That Evening” before sold-out audiences across many states in the US.

He has also previously brought his other shows to Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia.

This time, the Filipino-American comedian is gearing up to bring his latest comedy set to the Philippines when he takes the stage at The Theater at Solaire on June 3.

During a press conference on Wednesday, de Guzman shared how performing in different countries actually influences his materials.

“From those experiences, a lot of those were in 2013 and 2014. It’s pretty straightforward as far as not doing local references and inside things that are culturally you would know as somebody in the US and just doing things that are more relatable like family, making love,” he said.

De Guzman also gives credit to music as he goes international, describing it as a universal language, to which everybody can relate to. Nonetheless, he admits that it is hard to figure out what is going to work in one country and in another. 

“I think it’s just something that you have to find out by doing shows there. I am just trying to think broad and on a human level than on a cultural level when I travel overseas. That’s how I adapt,” he said.

De Guzman was also asked whether there are topics that he wouldn’t dare touch on in this age of “woke” and “cancel culture.”

“There’s not really anything that I wouldn’t touch if I could make it funny. I won’t find something that’s on the line just to be on the line. But if it’s a topic that I genuinely think I can have a funny perspective on, then I would do it,” he said.

“That being said, I have done some things where people message me or DM me or send an email. And I was really like, ‘Oh should I stop doing this?’ But every joke in your set, somebody can find something to be offended by. So if you cut out every joke that offended one person, you wouldn’t have a set,” he added.

For De Guzman, if he genuinely believes that something is funny, he wouldn’t take it out of his lineup. Fortunately, he hasn’t had any experience yet where someone heckled him because of something he said on stage.

“I think because I look like a nice guy and a friendly guy that when I tell someone to shut up, it’s not intimidating at all.”

For his Manila show, De Guzman said he would involve his father, Tony, who now has his own fans after his funny videos appeared in his posts.

De Guzman began his stand-up career 12 years ago. He took up a musical comedy class at the University of California, Davis and found success through college shows.

He was part of the select group of up-and-coming comedians who had 15-minute sets in the 2018 Netflix special "The Comedy Lineup." 

But it was during the pandemic when many turned to their phones and other devices for entertainment that his comedic talents became even more known globally through his social media posts.

De Guzman lovingly roasts his family in his shows. But despite the lighthearted jokes, he said he considers his parents as heroes.

Born in the Philippines, he was raised in Eagle Rock, California and now lives in Sacramento.