Filipino comedian Mikey Bustos has a soft spot for ants

Many of comedian Mikey Bustos' YouTube appearances feature his take on Filipino culture, issues and politics.
Many of comedian Mikey Bustos' YouTube appearances feature his take on Filipino culture, issues and politics.PHOTO: LA COMEDY LIVE

Google "Mikey Bustos" and you would probably get a photo of the Filipino singer, comedian and YouTube star wearing only a pair of Speedos.

His parody of Latin pop hit Despacito, re-titled I Wear Speedos, went viral recently and has become his most popular YouTube music video to date.

Bustos will perform his debut Singapore show on Sunday. He is one of the comedians featured in the Asia International Comedy Festival, which runs from today to Sunday at the School of the Arts concert hall and Kallang Theatre.

Other comedians in the festival include Bert "The Machine" Kreischer from the United States, Kanan Gill from India and Shahar Hason and Yohai Sponder from Israel.

So, will Bustos don one of his famous tiny trunks during his set at the Kallang Theatre?

"That will be a surprise. If people want to find out, they will have to go to the show," he teases with a laugh.

His rendition of the song, originally sung by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, has garnered 8.7 million views since it was uploaded in July.

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    WHERE: Kallang Theatre, 1 Stadium Walk

    WHEN: Sunday, 2pm

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While he has not got an official endorsement from swimwear company Speedo, Bustos says it sent him "several new Speedos and other stuff" after the video went viral.

Bustos, who shuttles between the Philippines and Canada, where he was born, might be better known for his parody of pop hits and comedic videos, but he first made his name as, what he terms, a "serious singer".

Born in Toronto, Bustos joined reality singing show Canadian Idol in 2003. He finished eighth, but the stint was enough to solidify his fan base and kick-start a music career.

He has several releases, including a 2005 EP, Love Me Again, and an 2008 album, Memoirs Of A Superhero.

His foray into comedy, he says, was accidental.

In 2011, he started a YouTube channel for his music, inspired by other singers who found fame through the video-sharing site, such as Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, as well as Filipino talents such as the singer formerly known as Charice Pempenco (now Jake Zyrus) and Arnel Pineda, lead singer of American rock band Journey.

"I uploaded a video every day, but I found I couldn't do singing videos every day. I ran out of songs. So, I decided I'll do sketches, I'll do vlogs and one of them went viral, but it was a comedy skit."

That video, a humorous tutorial on the Filipino accent, has been viewed more than 2.4 million times.

"I discovered that day that I could possibly do comedy too. It wasn't my passion at the time, but when I saw how many people enjoyed it, how it was impacting other people, I continued to do more and it defined the direction of my YouTube channel."

Like his first viral video, many of his other YouTube appearances feature his comedic take on Filipino culture, issues and politics. Another of his famous videos, for example, is a rap about Filipino mythical creatures.

He never oversteps his boundaries, he insists, and makes sure his jokes are always family-friendly and non-offensive.

"A big chunk of my viewers are kids," he says of his YouTube channel. "We see this in the shows. A lot of people are parents who bring their kids. With that in mind, I try to keep things kid-friendly, although I add some stuff only adults might get."

And while many might know him for his comedy and music, the multi-talented bachelor is also an animal enthusiast who runs another popular YouTube channel, AntsCanada, which is dedicated to his other love - antkeeping.

In fact, the channel's most popular video, which features fire ants trying to escape his ant farm, has 17.4 million views - much more than his comedy and music videos. The channel has also grown into a global ant farm business with a presence in Canada, the US, China and the Philippines.

Bustos, who studied zoology before dropping out of school to focus on his entertainment career, says: "AntsCanada fulfils my science passion. I guess that is the other side of my dual life."

Eddino Abdul Hadi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'Funnyman with a love of ants'. Print Edition | Subscribe