OFW comedian Imah Dumagay brings house down in solo Dubai gig

Hilarious Imah Dumagay, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from Mindanao who fell in love with stand-up comedy, recently brought the house down in an hour-long, major solo gig for a cause at the Mall of the Emirates’ The Theatre.

The crowd could not get enough and wanted some more, which is why a second and bigger show is being put together in what promises to yet again be an evening of laughter. Part of the proceeds will be shared with OFWs recovering from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the city.

“I was, at first, really nervous,” Dumagay told Rappler. 

“Then, soon as I heard everyone excitedly cheering for me before I came on stage, I was overwhelmed with love and support." 

Nawala yung kaba! Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘You (audience) all deserve my best tonight! To hell with the nerves! Haha! I felt so loved, at sa excitement ko, di ko na feel yung one hour,” Dumagay added.

(My nerves were disappeared. I told myself 'you (audience) all deserve my best tonight! To hell with the nerves. I felt so loved and in my excitement, I did not feel the time pass by.)

Photo Imah Dumagay

The show, held on Friday, November 27, had a mixed audience of over 300. The Theatre, a high-end venue that has hosted world-class performances, has a 500-seat capacity. But management had to reduce this to 300 as part of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19.

“Around 60% were Filipinos; 20% South Asians; the rest [of the audience] were a mix of Arabs and Caucasians,” Dumagay said.

The comedienne said she was “very, very happy” with the show’s turnout.

“Especially considering that I could be paving the way for more Filipinos who are interested in stand-up. I maybe the first to do this, but I’m certainly sure I am not the funniest Filipino in the UAE. So, I look forward to many more shows — like having a comedy special with Filipino stand-ups headlining it. That’s the dream,” said Dumagay, whose day job is working as an executive secretary to a Dubai CFO. 

How prepared was she?  “Yung one-hour set was mostly written and rehearsed, lalo na yung order nung jokes para po smooth ang flow at may sense ang jokes. But yung crowd-work po, when talking to the audience, yun po, usually spontaneous,” Dumagay said.

(The one-hour set was mostly written and rehearsed, especially the order of the jokes, so the flow is smooth and the jokes make sense. But when it comes to crowd-work, when talking to the audience, that's usually spontaneous.)

She said part of the show’s proceeds will be donated to fellow OFWs who have lost their jobs and are starting over due to the pandemic.

“Part of the proceeds will go to a selected OFW family here in Dubai to help them recover,” Dumagay said.

Dumagay said organizers are putting together another show tentatively set for February next year.

Gusto nila February. Same show kasi ang dami pang di nakapanuod. Pero wait ko pa kung saang venue daw,” she said.

(They want it in February. Same show because so many were not able to watch. But I'll wait for the venue announcement.) – Rappler.com