He trudged into the set of ABS-CBN’s “Yes Yes Show” then quipped, “Mahirap yata yung mga tanong mo e.” He related himself on a yellow couch, slightly strumming the guitar he was holding. Almost uneasily, he waited for the interview to begin.

Isko Salvador appeared just as he looks like on TV—simple and laid back, wearing a plain white polo shirt, slightly-faded denims, and a pair of worn-out, slip-on shoes. Upon learning that the Varsitarian often features famous Thomasians, he smiled and let out a short laugh.

Apparently, Isko Salvador is just like that—simple, rather quiet, but likes to throw in a couple of jokes.

He said he always liked comedy but becoming a comedian came as a surprise to him. Back in 1976 when he took up Communication Arts from the then Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, he knew he was going to be a writer for comedy someday. And write comedy he did.

No class clown

Salvador described himself as an average student who had no interest in any school organization. “Hindi ako mahilig magsasali sa (mga organizations) enjoy lang ako mag-aral,” he said. He traced his love for comedy to his student days but said he never became the class clown. “Hindi ako attention-grabber, tahimik lang ako kasi nag-eenjoy ako makinig,” he said.

However, Salvador actively participated in every class production. He said that Communication Arts students then practiced their skills in a radio program “Lunchbox”, a noontime variety show of Radyo Veritas. Each class was tasked to produce the show for one Saturday every month. He recalled writing the script, composing spoof songs, and playing the guitar on the show.

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He described the University as a haven for study. “Ang atmosphere ng UST hindi magulo,” Also, he favored the teaching of Theology and believed that of the total student population, only one percent is “evil”. Because of this, his stay in UST made him feel secure. “Naging panatag yung (loob ko dahil) safe yung environment. Conducive talaga sa pag-aaral ang UST.”

The comedian confessed that he had difficulty finding a job after finishing school. He remembered applying in advertising agencies and getting rejected. Eventually, luck came his way when he landed his first job as a scriptwriter for “Sapak Talaga”, a daily afternoon variety show in GMA-Channel 7.

Though a veteran writer of 23 years, Salvador said that it is not easy to write for comedy, “Mahirap talaga magpatawa e.” But that is not to say he likes scriptwriting less than being a comedian. The difference is, as an actor, he is able to put his ideas directly in action. However, he finds scriptwriting “more powerful” because he produces the actions and dialogues of each character.

With his local influences like the late director Ading Fernando and Apeng Daldal, as well as Hollywood comedy idols Woody Allen, Bob Hope, and Jerry Lewis, it is no wonder Isko Salvador ascended the ladder of comedy fame.

Being famous

Unknown to many, Salvador’s acting stint began when he co-wrote for the sitcom John en Marsha in the ‘80s. When a scene would call for a crowd, the director would ask him to join. One role required him to play a man who owned a sari-sari store. Although he did not have a dialogue and was not paid for the roles, these small parts became his first steps in becoming a comedy icon.

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When John en Marsha folded up, Salvador focused on doing his first love—scriptwriting. In the following years, he wrote for different TV sitcoms, like “Champoy”, “Going Bananas”, and “Buddy en Sol”. His big break came in when he became head writer of GMA 7’s hit comedy show, “Bubble Gang”.

There his acting career was revived when he became “Brod Pete” in a segment he and his co-writers produced and called “Ang Dating Doon,” a spoof on the religious TV show, “Ang Dating Daan”. It was just a one-shot deal but the segment raised ratings, and the rest, as they say, was history.

Up to this day, Salvador considers this project his greatest accomplishment. The writer-turned-comedian was never an actor in the making. Instead, Salvador ascribed his fame to fate. “Hindi ako nag-ambisyon o nag-dream na maging ganito. Basta gusto ko lang comedy”.

Salvador has played roles in various TV sitcoms such as “Da Boy en Da Girl”, and even had a hosting stint with Kris Aquino in the revised version of the game show, “Game KNB?”.

At present, he is part of the funny gang of “Yes Yes Show.” He drops witty one-liners along with equally talented actors Bayani Agabayani, Vhong Navarro, and Long Mejia.

Movies soon came along with his fast-rising popularity. His last movie appearance was in “Mr. Suave.” He will be seen again soon in another comedy flick starring Mikee Arroyo.

Salvador said that 50 per cent of his creative juices is innately produced; the other half developed through the years. Even with all he has achieved, Salvador has yet one dream to accomplish. That is to work with no less than the king of comedy, Dolphy.

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He advised aspiring to write to do research and prepare themselves for the job. He himself watched videos of sitcoms and comedy films, dissected them, and studied why a particular scene was funny. He also read books about the lives of prominent comedians such as George Burns.

Aware of all that he has gone through, he leaves his co-Thomasians who will soon enter the real world a truthful yet sincere wish, “Good luck sa inyo, dog’s life dito kaya i-enjoy nyo yung pag-aaral ninyo…at sana ‘pag sumubok na kayo sa totoong g’yera, magwagi kayo.”

Indeed Isko Salvador has gone a long way, but his was not an easy climb to success. With his simple nature and “roof-raising,” talents he is sure to tickle more the Filipinos’ funny bone. Ma. Charise Lauren C. Adonay

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