The sweet journey of an all-around gag show


    Like the versatile fruit it is named after, comedy show Banana Sundae has proven how adaptable it can be, no matter the timeslot it has had through the years.

    Originally called Banana Split, the show premiered on ABS-CBN in 2008 on a Saturday night featuring an all-female cast comprised of Angelica Panganiban, Cristine Reyes, Valerie Concepcion, Roxanne Guinoo, Dianne Medina, Princess Ryan and RR Enriquez. A year later, the show reformatted and welcomed comics John Prats, Zanjoe Marudo, Jayson Gainza, Pooh and Pokwang.

    The ‘Banana Sundae’ casts: (from left) JC de Vera, Jessy Mendiola, Aiko Climaco, Sunshine Garcia, John Prats, Pokwang, Pooh, Jayson Gainza, Jobert Austria, Badjie Mortiz. Not in photo is original cast Angelica Panganiban

    The ‘Banana Sundae’ casts: (from left) JC de Vera, Jessy Mendiola, Aiko Climaco, Sunshine Garcia, John Prats, Pokwang, Pooh, Jayson Gainza, Jobert Austria, Badjie Mortiz. Not in photo is original cast Angelica Panganiban

    At this point, Banana began moving from timeslot to timeslot, following management’s orders. It was first given a 30-minute daily afternoon showing as Banana Split: Daily Servings in 2009, and then a morning block a year later. Continuously experimenting, the daily program reformatted in 2011, moved to the afternoon timeslot and adopted the title Banana Split: Lafternoon Delight.

    As a weekend nighttime program, the show reformatted in 2011 as Banana Split: Extra Scoop and adopted a live audience taping, which finally saw a major boost in program ratings. With solid results, the production again switched to a nightly slot as Banana Nite, which succeeded until the program’s most effective timeslot today, Sundays following ASAP. The show is presently called Banana Sundae still with a live performance.

    ‘Banana’ members since 2009: Prats and Pokwang

    ‘Banana’ members since 2009: Prats and Pokwang

    The show’s colorful history, nonetheless gave birth to a mix of a new and returning cast including Panganiban, Prats, Gainza, Pokwang, Pooh, Jobert Austria, Badjie Mortiz, Ryan Bang, Sunshine Garcia, Aiko Climaco and newcomer Jessy Mendiola and JC de Vera.

    Place of refuge
    Speaking to the press on Thursday for their upcoming anniversary show, the cast of Banana Sundae couldn’t help but remember how the show has transformed them as individuals through the years.

    “The difference from then and now? A lot! I was able to buy a car, build a house, a lot,” Gainza jested.

    “But kidding aside, I like that whenever we go out, people would recognize me not as Jayson but as one of the characters I’ve once impersonated on the show, oftentimes as Tito Boy. It might also seem ironic but this comedy show and our director has taught me styles in acting, which I use in my other shows, even if they’re dramas,” the comedian shared.

    Jayson Gainza

    Jayson Gainza

    As for Pokwang, whose first foray in the biz came when she won a search for the channel’s new comedians, she considers Banana a return to her roots.

    “Even though I have done drama and somehow showed people that I can make them cry, I’d still return to Banana—as a comedienne, I need this. Doing drama is no joke, what with all the heavy lines and crying on cue but. Banana doesn’t feel any of that—it doesn’t feel like work at all. We’re just a crazy bunch,” Pokwang imparted.

    Finally, for Prats, Banana has given him not just co-stars but a new set of family. “This show and my co-stars have seen me through my personal highs and lows. Banana has become my happy place. Even if I’m doing other shows, most of which are drama, I’d treat Thursdays [their taping day]as a breather where I can go crazy and just laugh throughout the show. And I must say the bond that we have from is almost family-like, we look after each other. Somehow the fun that we have on and offset resonates with our audience.”

    To return the favor to their fans, Prats, Gainza and Pokwang, along with the rest of Banana “barkada,” will stage Banana Sund8, their anniversary show at the Kia Theater on Thursday. It will feature Banana’s trademark segments and even recurring members. One of the highlights, however, is comprised of group performances from the current cast and their surprise guests. The fun affair will go on Sunday, November 20.


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