Marlon ‘Tapalord’: This small entrepreneur is now a stand-up comedian

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Marlon ‘Tapalord’: This small entrepreneur is now a stand-up comedian

STAND-UP. Small entrepreneur Marlon 'Tapalord' Cadag is now part of the Alex Calleja-led Comedy Crew.

Marlon Cadag Facebook

Mentored by veteran funny man Alex Calleja, frozen tapa seller Marlon 'Tapalord' Cadag delivers clean religious comedy

MANILA, Philippines – After becoming known for his frozen tapa (cured beef) business, Marlon Cadag, aka “Tapalord,” has levelled up (not in heaven, thank God!) and is now a stand-up comedian. 

Cadag was noticed on social media around four years ago for his resemblance to what people have been taught to be what Jesus Christ looked like – a man with long hair, moustache and beard – while selling tapa on Facebook.

In April 2022, the Philippines’ number one news and public affairs show, Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (KMJS), featured him, which boosted his social media presence as well as his small business. 

“Hindi lang daw looking blessed si Marlon, feeling blessing din daw siya! Ang kanila kasing tapa business, dumami ang mga suki!” said KMJS in its video caption for the episode, “Lalaking Kamukha Raw ni Hesurkisto, #Blessed din ang Negosyo.”

(Marlon isn’t just looking blessed, he’s also feeling blessed! Because the regular clients of their tapa business has grown! The business of the man man who they say looks like Jesus Christ is also blessed.)

Almost two years after his appearance on KMJS, Cadag is now a stand-up comedian. He’s “Marlon Tapalord,” the newest member of Comedy Crew, a group of stand-up comedians and writers led by veteran funny man, Alex Calleja. 

Last week, they had the show “Laugh at First Sight,” in Berjaya Hotel, Makati on Friday, and in PETA Theater, Quezon City on Saturday. Aside from Calleja and Cadag, the other comedians included Israel Buenaobra, Mak Navarez, Rex Millora, Ramon Cabochan, Dawit Tabonares, Yuki Horikoshi, Anthony Andres, and Imay Dumagay. 

Other recent Comedy Crew shows included Victor Obera, Grease Junio, Jeps Gallon, David Blattner, Winer Aguilar, and CS dela Pena. 

Cadag got the name of his tapa business from netizens who suggested it after seeing his resemblance to Jesus Christ. 

“Noong una, nagbebenta talaga ako ng tapa, tapos nung pinost ko siya sa social media, ng food pages, yung mga tao nagpangalan sakin na ‘Uy, dapat Tapalord.’ So, yun na yung binrand ko sa tapa ko,” Cadag told TV5’s Gud Morning Kapatid on Thursday,  February 15. 

(At first, I was just selling tapa, and then I posted it on social media, food pages, and it was the netizens who gave me the idea for the business name, they said, ‘Hey, it should be Tapalord.’ So, that’s the brand I used for my tapa.)

From a small enterprise in Pateros town in the nation’s capital, Tapalord now has resellers not just in Metro Manila but also in Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, Batangas, Zambales, and Camarines Sur. Some comedians also order the frozen tapa which they cook and eat during shootings.

Clean religious comedy

In predominantly Catholic Philippines, using Jesus Christ for comedy can incite religious sensibilities, but with advice from Calleja, Cadag has learned how to be religiously funny the right way. 

“Dati kasi, ‘di ba delikado yung masyadong religious….Ang ginawa namin, inayos lang namin yung kanyang pag ii-stand-up…Na parang sinasabi niya, ayoko, kasi masamang iano yun, kinukwento lang nya yung mga naranasan nya,” Calleja said in their TV5 guesting. 

(Before, it was dangerous if it’s too religious…What we did, we just fixed his stand-up, it’s like we’re saying, we don’t want to [offend religion], he’s just relating his experiences.)

One example is Cadag’s skit where he cites the negative side of looking like Jesus Christ, using the different definition of “tawad” in English (forgiveness) and in Filipino (discount). 

“Kilala ako sa social media bilang isang negosyante. Nagtitinda po talaga ko ng tapa. Nakikita pa lang nila yung profile pic ko, humihingi na sila agad ng tawad,” he quips.

(I became known on social media as a businessman. I really sell tapa. But once they see my profile picture, they already ask for forgiveness/discount.) 

Watch parts of his stand-up below in this video uploaded by Comedy Crew.

Marlon ‘Tapalord’: This small entrepreneur is now a stand-up comedian

Another skit makes light of the common view that when a person is about to die, he or she may get a message from God telling him his “time is up.” 

“Bukod po sa pagiging online seller, nagtayo po ako ng computer shop, pero nalugi, ‘di ko alam kung bakit. Ang galang-galang ko magsalita, lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila, ‘Anak, time mo na. Extend ka pa?‘”

(Aside from being an online seller, I also put up a computer shop, but it lost money, I don’t know why. I was very respectful, I always tell the customers, ‘Son, your time is up. Are you going to extend?’)

It was a photo of Carag with a large pan of fried tapa in 2020 that went viral, sparking funny quips as well as criticisms of him disrespecting Jesus Christ. But he told KMJS in 2022: “May mga nagagalit sa akin kasi ginagawa ko raw kalokohan ang Diyos. Ginagawa ko ‘tong gimik na ‘to para mabuhay kami. Ang ginagawan ko ng kalokohan is sarili ko lang, hindi naman ‘yung Diyos eh.”

(There were those who got angry, they say I make fun of God. I use this gimmick so that my family can live. I make fun of myself, not God.) 

“At dumami ‘yung suki ng tapa business namin. At alam kong ang lahat nang natatanggap kong pagpapala ngayon, blessing mula sa langit.” 

(And the loyal clients of our tapa business grew. I only know that these blessings I receive today are all blessings from heaven.) 

He also said that Comedy Crew offers a kind of comedy that veers away from skits that criticize and offend. 

“Kwento ng sariling buhay, sariling patawa, sariling experience, observation sa paligid, at mga pangyayari,” he said in a Comedy Crew video that introduces him.

(We tell stories about our life, our laughs, our experiences, our observations of what’s around us, and about happenings.) 

Cadag, who has been training by doing open mic for the past five months, is all praises for his mentor, Calleja, saying he and the young comedians in Comedy Crew have learned a lot from the veteran funny man. 

“Masaya, maraming kaming natutunan. Nainspire kami kasi isa siya sa mga unang nag-stand-up comedy,” he said. 

(It’s fun, we’ve learned a lot. We’re inspired because he’s one of the pioneers of stand-up comedy.)

Stand-up comedy has seen strong growth in major cities in the Philippines. Vin Buenaagua, a law student who does stand-up comedy from time to time, attributed this to the opening that social media provides, the entrepreneurs who see the demand for live comedy, and to a public looking for connection and fun after being cooped up in their homes due to the pandemic.

“In places like Metro Manila and other urban centers that come alive at night, more and more bars and restaurants are opening their doors and setting up their stages to host live events. There is also the abundance of ‘open-micers’ willing to perform just for stage time, exposure, and the occasional free food. And it can’t be denied that many people have been starved for live events since the pandemic locked them inside their homes. Performers and audiences alike are raring to create and immerse themselves in experiences outside the virtual realm, and it is in this peculiar set of circumstances that stand-up comedy is thriving at the moment,” Buenaagua said in an article published by Rappler. (Read the full piece below.) –

Filipino stand-up comedy is thriving – here’s why

Filipino stand-up comedy is thriving – here’s why

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.