Jazz darling Junji Delfino forays into stand-up comedy in her latest role as an entertainer.
Women, in general, juggle many roles and jazz singer Junji Delfino is no exception.
When she’s not singing her heart out, the Filipina songstress is a wife, mother of five kids, cook, nurse, driver, ATM machine, missus fix-it, and entertainer. In fact, she manages so many roles that she really doesn’t know who the real Delfino is!
That has become the premise for her first stand-up show in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, Will The Real Junji Delfino Please Stand-Up!. Her lovely voice can move you with its tenderness but Delfino as a comedian?
“I blame it on Patrick Teoh and other friends who tell me I say the funniest things and make stupid statements,” she says in a recent interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
“Off stage, I say the darnest things and I think I’m funny, but I could be under an illusion! However, it’s only this year that all these different personas got tested to the hilt because my maid went back and I had to manage everything.”
After almost 20 years of having a domestic helper, Delfino, 54, and her kids, ranging from ages 12 to 31, were initially at a loss on how to cope. Push came to shove and pull through they did, with Delfino as taskmaster.
“The comedy material started from there. I’ve taken stuff from my life in Malaysia with touches of life in the Philippines. It’s not purely comedy, but has songs woven in. It’s not a running story either, but each song has a foundation for a story and vice versa,” she reveals.
“When I conceptualised this, I wanted to use this as a testing ground to develop it into a bigger show ... a sort of ‘he says, she says’. All club shows are similar so I wanted to offer something different. I’m gatal that way!” she says, giggling.
“I want to show people that you can do a stand-up without being vulgar. My style is to let certain things be unsaid without having to add fertiliser.”
Delfino will be accompanied by The Michael Veerapen Jazz Trio, featuring Veerapen on keyboards, Daniel Foong on bass and Steve Nanda on drums. Together, they will play 10 songs.
What happened to hubby David Gomes, who is also a jazz musician? “He’s going to be in Australia during my show so I had to ask Michael to be my music director. David will be in the bigger show and his only plea is that I don’t reveal too much of our personal life.
“Yes, I’m scared, excited, jumpy and keeping my fingers crossed that hubby will give the stamp of approval! I’m trying to psyche myself up by saying it’s just another stage play,” says the bubbly woman.
Delfino started singing at the age of four and by the time she was 10, her father, himself a renowned Filipino jazz musician and composer, was sneaking the apple of his eye into jazz clubs. It was there that Delfino became infused with jazz – its melancholy yet exuberant love of life, its scatty sense of humour, its love of playful improvisation while remaining true to achingly beautiful melodies, and its sudden switches from madcap to gloomy.
“My life parallels my father’s,” she says. “I was exposed to life as an entertainer at a young age and I gravitated towards it although my dad didn’t want me to be in showbiz.”
She started out singing in jazz clubs in Manila, the Philippines back in the 1980s and in the 1990s, moved to Malaysia and landed at the famous All That Jazz club in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Soon after, she began her long-time association with Gomes, who eventually became her husband.
Delfino's talents stretch from centre stage to the small screen, and she has acted in many plays and was cast in Singapore’s English television drama series Red Thread in 2009. But throughout her 25-year career, her first love remains music.
In Will The Real Junji Delfino Please Stand-Up, Delfino admits that she had to write down the script but she declares the show as “scripted improvisation”.
“My only fear is that I have so much material, I may go off tangent and not be able to come back. That worries me.” So, who is the real Delfino?
“I guess the real Junji Delfino will surface as and when Junji Defino needs to surface! You’ve got to have a healthy sense of humour to survive this mad life. This is going to be an historic show for me. It’s going to be so bad or so good. If it is not good, I blame it on Patrick Teoh!” she jokes.
> Will The Real Junji Delfino Please Stand-Up! takes place from July 18-20 at the Theatre Lounge Café in Kuala Lumpur. Showtime is at 9pm and cover charge is RM65. For bookings and directions, call 03-6730 7982.